Digital Marketing Archives -

2019 Online Marketing Checkup for Small & Medium Businesses

Posted on January 10, 2019 by

laptop and stethoscope

Time for your online marketing checkup!

With 2019 now upon us it’s time to do a quick check of your online marketing assets. This is designed to be short and snappy but you will almost certainly find something useful.

SEO – Check your search engine rankings in Google

Put your browswer into incognito (Chrome) or private mode (Safari) and search Google for your main keywords or phrases. If you aren’t ranking on page 1, it’s time to take action! There are some free tools that do this but I’d recommend a manual check for this one-off instance.

Website technical – Check your online forms are working

Go to your website and complete all your online forms to check they are all working as expected. If any are broken or end up in your spam, take action to fix them right away so your don’t risk missing any enquiries.

Website technical – Audit your website for technical issues

Go to ScreamingFrog and run a site audit of your website. It’s free and will give you everything you need to know with regard to any technical issues that you have with your website that are negatively affecting your SEO. Fix these asap!

Website design – Look to see how your site compares to your competitors

How does your current website stack up compared to your competition? Is yours looking tired or old? Many visitors are put off by old or dated looking websites so be critical and take steps to improve or redesign it if necessary.

Responsive web design sign

Website technical – Is your site mobile friendly?

Use Google’s mobile friendly test and check that your site is mobile friendly. If it’s not then this is a problem that you need to fix right away as it’s a key SEO ranking factor for Google. It’s also very important that your site works well for anyone visiting your website on a mobile device (obviously!).

Branding – Is your branding consistent?

Check your branding across all your online and offline assets. Are you using the same branding and logo across your social media accounts, website, printed material, sign-work, vehicles etc? If not take action because your brand is important.

Website UX/UI – Audit your website user journey

This might sound arduous but it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of a website visitor and check that they can easily navigate your website and get to everything quickly and easily. Also make sure that you have plenty of CTA’s (Calls To Action) on the key parts of your site.

Website SEO – Check your website speed

Use Google’s Page Speed Insights to check how your site performs across all platforms for speed. If you are getting a slow score for either Desktop or Mobile, or both, then take action to fix it asap.

Website SEO/Technical – Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Hopefully, you already have Google Analytics set up on your website but you should also have Google Search Console set up too. Follow the links above or Google it and then follow the setup instructions and check out the user guides.

SEO – Optimise your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Find out who’s ranking well for your keywords and see if their page titles and meta descriptions are more interesting or engaging than yours. Also check your keywords are there. Click through rates are higher for well written titles and descriptions and this is a key SEO ranking factor.

Summary

Running through the points in this checklist will serve you well. You will be able to start the year off knowing that you’re in good shape online.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback – just leave them below and we’ll get back to you. Otherwise, we hope you found something useful.


301’s, 404’s and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Posted on December 10, 2018 by

301 redirects

Why 301 redirects are VERY important for good SEO….

In this article you will find out what a 301 redirect is and why it’s so important. This is especially true when launching a new website. You will also find out the implications of not using 301 redirects properly and how that can destroy your rankings and website traffic.

What is a 301 (permanent) redirect?

A 301 redirect is basically a way to redirect one (old) url to a new url. There are several reasons why you’d want to do this but in this article we are talking in the context of a new website. To practically demonstrate a 301 redirect, click on the following link;

https://www.web-feet.co.uk/about/work

You will see that this will take you to this page on our website;

https://www.web-feet.co.uk/how-we-work

The first URL has a 301 redirect on it that permanently redirects it to the second URL. The reason being that when we launched our most recent website we changed the URL structure.

Why is a 301 redirect important for SEO?

Let’s use the scenario of having a new website built – and incidentally, this happens a lot.

You have had your website a while, built up some good page ranking in Google, you may have even paid for some SEO in the past. You are getting good traffic to your site and converting leads. As a result you want to further invest in your online presence and you have a new website built.

Website launch day!

Your new website goes live and it represents everything that you wanted. It looks great and you can’t wait for your existing customers to see it. You also know that it’s way better than your competitors’ and you wait for new leads to come rolling in.

Except they don’t.

You check your Google Analytics and your organic traffic has tanked.

seo rankings going down

You do some searches in Google and you are still listing well but when you click on the link you see this;

The dreaded 404 page! (I mean hopefully you don’t see our 404 page because then something very wrong has happened with your website)

What happened?

When your new web company built your website, they totally disregarded what was already there. Yes you got the nice new website that they promised but they did nothing to transfer all your old URLs and search data to your new website. They say they’ve done their job – you have a new website. You are left crying into your 404 page error and flat lined organic traffic report.

All, or maybe just some, of your valuable past SEO efforts and page rankings have just gone up in smoke.

If this has just happened to you – don’t panic.

If this has just happened to you, it’s not too late. You can rescue the situation, or at least limit the damage if you act quickly. It’s beyond the scope of this article but you will find help online, it’s not a unique problem. Whilst a bit technical, this MOZ article – Recovering Your Organic Search Traffic from a Web Migration Gone Wrong will help you out.

New website – plan ahead.

If you are having a new website built, make sure you, or your agency, take proper care to plan your migration from old to new website. You will want to research all that was good about your old website and the positive SEO results and ensure this is all reflected on your new website. This takes time and effort but it can steer you away from catastrophe.

Specifically, with respect to URL structure, make sure all old URLs are pointing to it’s closest cousin on your new website. It’s best to not change the URL structure too much if possible. Nevertheless, you will almost certainly change at least some.

How do I set up a 301 redirect?

WordPress

With WordPress, you can use a plugin to create 301 redirects. If you are using Yoast you can consider using their premium SEO plugin which will handle 301 redirects. This article How to create a 301 redirect in WordPress explains this in more detail.

Coaster CMS

With Coaster CMS it’s really easy to set up and manage 301’s because there is a page within the site admin to enter before and after URLs. It’s really easy and we added this feature because we like to make life easy 🙂

Any other CMS…

Google it!

new website and seo planning meeting

SEO Migration – bonus section!

I touched on this above, but to expand..If you are having a new website built. Take some time to map out your old URL structure (site map) and plan out your new one. A spreadsheet is good for this because you can copy and paste from your HTML sitemap. Make sure that all the old URLs are either maintained or redirected to one of the new pages.

Once you have this complete. Do some keyword research on your current page rankings. This is especially important if you are changing or updating content. 

You want to find out which keywords your current site is ranking for and for which pages. Now you want to find your most valuable pages and keywords (you can do a lot if not all of this in your Google Search Console). This in turn tells you which is your most valuable content. Be mindful of making this content better but not changing it too much at this stage. At this point you want to focus on maintaining all the good rankings you have.

Anything that’s not ranking well can be updated more freely.

Summary

You are now up to speed on 301 redirects and why they are important for SEO. You know how they should be used and how you can preserve all your good SEO and rankings when moving to a new website.

I’d love to receive your comments and questions and hope that you’ve found this useful.


Local SEO Hampshire

Posted on December 7, 2018 by

local seo hampshire search on mobile

 

As I said in my recent article on Local SEO – 7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO – 46% of all searches on Google are local.

Local search is critical to your business and is only going to get more important as search and Google shift more towards mobile.

What is this article about and who is it for?

You may be asking why Hampshire? If your business is based in say, Surrey, that’s fine, this guide is also for you but I needed an example county. Seeing as I’m in Hampshire, that seemed like a good place to start.

Who’s it for? Well, anybody that has a website and wants to understand how search, and in particular local search, works with Google. This will allow anyone to perform some basic search engine optimisation specifically for, in this case, SEO Hampshire.

Your two primary considerations wrt Local Search

Number 1 consideration – Google’s Local Pack & Google My Business

Your business is almost certainly in a town or city, let’s use Eastleigh as an example throughout this guide. No surprise, that’s where Web-Feet is based. Eastleigh is a town in Hampshire with a population of around 130,000, roughly 10% of the population of Hampshire – just to put things in perspective. If you are from much further afield and have no idea where I’m talking about, welcome! Hampshire is in the UK, on the South Coast of England.

Google Local Pack

When you search for a product or service on Google, you will quite often get served up some ads There are at the top of the page, followed by what’s called the Local Pack. An example of which is below. In this case, there are two ads followed by the Local Pack. Underneath the local pack are the Google Organic Search Results.

Search results for landscaping services in Google

Now, see how I just searched for ‘landscaping services’ and not ‘landscaping services Eastleigh’, or ‘landscaping services near me’? Google is smart and I wasn’t even using my mobile. You can see that it has placed me on the map by way of a small blue dot just underneath where it says ‘Chandlers Ford’. Whatever device you are using, Google knows where you are. Or has a pretty good idea and gives you relevant search results. A few years ago, you would have had to have been more specific with your search queries. Now, you don’t need to be. In fact, you probably haven’t even noticed because most people have adapted to the new way of finding things online.

Google My Business

If you provide Landscaping Services in Eastleigh you will want to be listed in the Local Pack. The main reason being that it’s below paid ads but above organic results. This is your first consideration with respect to Local Search. I’ve covered this in a bit more detail in my article  7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO. To get straight to it with Google you can go to the Google My Business page. Here you will be able to complete the whole process or update your existing listing. Without covering the whole process, my advice would be to be as thorough as possible and make sure that your NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) are entirely consistent wherever they are listed. Google will get confused otherwise and you won’t get the full benefit of the listing.

If you need any help with SEO - don't forget we can help

Number 2 consideration – Letting Google know the area your business covers

So now your Google My business is set up, let’s move on.

Let’s say you are a landscaping business in Eastleigh and you’re listed in the Local Pack. That’s great, but Eastleigh isn’t that big a place and your business covers the whole of Hampshire. This actually presents your business with a bit of a challenge. Anyone searching Google will always be served up a business local to them in the Local Pack. Someone doing the same search above in Southampton  (a city just down the road from Eastleigh, population around 250,000), is going to find a landscaping business in Southampton, not Eastleigh. At least as far as the Local Pack results go.

Adwords (slight diversion)

To cater for this scenario you can consider running Google Ads, this will allow you to target specific areas for search. This will ensure that your business is placed at the top of search for very specific search phrases and in specific geographic locations. Google Adwords is beyond the scope of this article however.

Letting Google know the areas you cover

Now whilst the Local Pack is important and you want to be listed here for local searches, underneath is where the organic search is. In order to rank well here, you need to optimise your website for, in this example, landscaping Eastleigh, landscaping services Southampton and landscaping services Hampshire. The temptation here is for businesses to build a page for each location they service but then go on to duplicate all the page content because it’s the same service, just in a different location. I would advise against this although you will still see this strategy in use. This approach is a bit dated and the problem with trying to unnaturally game the system is that Google makes the rules. Essentially, the more natural your approach to this the better. Always keep real people in mind. Don’t try and second guess what a computer thinks.

If Google decideds clamps down on the use of this tactic, your entire online business is instantly compromised. You would need to make some significant changes to your website to address (sorry no pun intended) this. You need to be smarter than this because Google doesn’t like duplicate content and to be honest, neither should you.  It’s just not adding any value to your visitors.

How to let Google know the areas you cover

Let’s do that search for landscaping services again but add a location to our search this time

Search for landscaping services hampshire in Google

You will see that the ads are now gone, which presents an opportunity perhaps but that’s not in the scope of this article.

Let’s break this down a bit. The local pack is still showing services local to me, as expected. Looking down at the organic search results however and you will see two businesess that have made it clear to Google that they cover Hampshire. Equally, it’s clear to the person searching that they cover Hampshire. This is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s hard to see how if you carried out this search you’d not click on those two websites to investigate further. This is exactly the outcome you want as a business listed on Google.

How to make it clear the areas you cover

Let’s say that you had 2 minutes to pitch your business to an audience in person. You’d almost certainly cover the following topics;

  • What your business is called
  • The services you provide
  • Where you provide them
  • What makes you special
  • Something about yourself

On your website, you obviously need to cover all of these points, and much more, too. Focussing on where you provide your service, make this very clear on your website. For example;

  • Where you are based
  • What areas you cover
  • Provide a map if that’s relevant
  • Showcase work you have completed with details of where you completed it
  • Show testimonials of happy customers and make it clear where you carried out their work

Basically, take every opportunity to say what you do and where you do it.  This makes it clear to both your visitors and Google. That way, your website and business will be properly associated with all of these things. Google will list you accordingly and you should receive good quality click-throughs to inquire about your business. Each of these clicks is valuable and hopefully, you can convert them into a sale.

On page SEO – some techy tips

Don’t forget that Page Title, Meta Description and other on-page areas are all places that you want to make your geographic business coverage clear. Going back to the example search above, you will see that Hampshire is mentioned in the Page Titles for both of the ranked pages in all four top positions. It’s not just this Local SEO factor that will get them this listing but it is a factor. More importantly, to the person looking at the search results, it’s clear to them that they are relevant to the search term they used.

That brings this article to a close. I hope you found it useful. If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.


7 Step Guide to the Best Local SEO

Posted on November 29, 2018 by

Search magnifying glass

Local Search and appropriate Local SEO is important.

Here’s why – 46% of all Google searches are local

Below, I will share with you the top 7 best strategies to optimise your website for local search and in fact good SEO generally.

1. Nail your keywords (the heart of good SEO)

Keyword research is very important for your SEO and therefore success online. Never assume that you know how people find you online. Sign up for a free trial with either SEMRush, MOZ or ahrefs and this will do a lot of the work for you. Yes, this will be a steep learning curve but you will uncover a lot of useful information. They all have a ton of helpful guides to get you started. Keyword volume is absolutely critical to understanding where there is search volume. Next, you need to know who’s currently ranking well for these higher volume keywords. If you supply niche products and services you can benefit from a higher conversion rate with lower volume keywords. Otherwise, search out keywords that have some volume and try appending your local area to the search. This way you will see what keywords are generating the volume in local search. Once you have a good handle on your keywords you can use that information to find out who is ranking well for them and delve into how they’ve achieved that.

2. Complete EVERYTHING in your Google My Business account

Listing well in Google’s local pack is very important for local search success. It’s tempting to just enter the basic information and make a mental note to go back and finish it off later. Don’t do this. Fill in everything you can as comprehensively as you can. This is the next best thing to free AdWords. The local pack sits between paid ads and organic search so a good placing here is extremely valuable. Google ranks knowledge highly so a well-written description of your business, it’s products and anything else valuable, like some photo’s, is a must. We’ll talk about reviews below but also make sure you keep on top of any you have already. Everybody knows that things go wrong sometimes so make sure you reply constructively to any negative feedback. It’s how you deal with these things that matter.

3. Put a strategy in place to get more Google reviews

Building upon point 2 above, to really nail your local SEO, you need to build trust with Google as well as your customers. There is no better way to do this than get some good reviews and bake this into your business strategy going forward. Ask any recent customers for a review and then put a strategy in place to ask all future customers too. Making this as friction-free as possible for your customers is a must. Use the tools on Pleper to help with this. You can use their Google Review Link Generator to create a short URLs to email or print on business cards along with a QR code inviting reviews. This will take your customers straight to the review card where they can rate you and leave a review very quickly.

Goal, target audience, content artwork4. Research who’s ranking well in Google’s local pack and check their local citations

So now you’ve got your Google My Business listing all done and you are getting regular reviews it’s time to see who’s on top. Search for your products and services online and see who’s listing in the local search box. If you’re not there you have some work to do. Local citations are from directories that list products and services by geography. Whitespark have a Local Citation Finder that will do all the research for you. It will list all the citations from all the people ranking well in the local pack. Once you have this information, you can spend some time listing your business on the same directories. This will likely take a while but it’s time well spent. Some of the directories may charge a listing fee but before you do this, find out how valuable that link is first. Whitespark will rate each citation so only consider paying if the citation has a high rating. Alternatively, do all the free ones and wait and see how this works for you over the next few weeks or months.

5. Audit your website with a special audit tool

If you are serious about nailing your SEO yourself then you have hopefully signed up to one of the services mentioned in section 1. All of these will allow you to carry out an audit of your website in order to improve your SEO and SERPS. The audit will basically pick up anything that’s suboptimal for SEO as well as anything more serious. This process can sometimes be daunting because the volume of errors can be significant. That being said, you can resolve sometimes hundreds at a time with just one simple fix. Other issues such as missing alt tags on images can just become a process of longer-term resolution. It’s unlikely you will fix everything straight away, or even quickly. Don’t be put off, just keep chipping away and everything you do will start to work in your favour. This will translate into better rankings over time. Be patient and don’t expect miracles.

picture of spanner and hammer6. Fix any errors or problems on your website

The tools you are now hopefully making use of are powerful. They are also well established and as a result all have a ton of useful information with regard to understanding and fixing issues. Granted sometimes this can be technical and daunting but don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek assistance from your developer here. Most of the issues are going to be one-off fixes or issues that you can avoid in future with your new found knowledge. The best SEO involves diligent attention to detail and the ticking of many many boxes. Over time, like anything in life, this diligence will pay off, in this case, with better rankings.

7. Write expert content and share it as much as you can

Now that you’ve done all the groundwork to ensure that your website is on a firm base, it’s time to think about content. If you have fixed all the issues with your website and it’s diligently optimised for local search, content becomes the next critical factor. Google, and just people on the Internet generally, value good content. Chances are that you are an expert in what you do. Share this information and you will be rewarded. You don’t need to give away your trade secrets or anything but remember that most of what everybody knows can be found on the internet somewhere anyway. Sharing advice and specialist knowledge will be rewarded with online interest, sharing and ultimately better rankings from Google. Share your content everywhere that you are likely to have an audience and over time you will see traffic increase. This will build your standing with Google and any online followers you have. Don’t try and substitute quality with quantity though. Make your content useful, unique and engaging. Like all things SEO, don’t expect instant results. Work hard at this aspect and good things can happen quickly but chances are you will need to be generating good content for a while before you start to see great things happen. Stick with it though because your patience will be rewarded eventually.

Summary

So that wraps up this article. I hope you found it useful. If you would like any help or assistance with website design, website development or Search Engine Optimisation please get in touch. We are based in Eastleigh in Hampshire in the UK so if you are in the Southampton or general Hampshire area you are more than welcome to come in and see us. We’d love to talk through your online business needs in person. We will be happy to suggest solutions perfectly tailored to your needs.

If you enjoyed the article, found it useful or have any questions or comments, please get in touch below and we’ll get back to you.


Top Tips for Content Creation

Posted on October 23, 2017 by

content creation blogging

“On average, people consume 285 pieces of content or 54,000 words every single day” – Hubspot

Content marketing is more competitive than ever.

In 2017, many businesses are putting out original pieces in a bid to entice, delight and satisfy customers. According to Hubspot, each person consumes 285 pieces of content per day, or 54,000 words on average. With more pieces of content appearing every day, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to get noticed online.

What is Content Marketing?

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience” – The Content Marketing Institute

The keyword here is valuable. Content marketing isn’t just about throwing any piece of content out there. The content creator’s job is to give the readers or viewers content they want to consume, providing information that’s highly relevant and of value to them, whether it’s presented in the form of a blog post, an article, an infographic or video.

content creation video

What is content?

In web marketing, ‘content’ simply means a piece of information that’s available electronically.

As a rule of thumb, good content should be interesting, shareable and valuable to your target audience. It also has to be digestible information that’s presented in a useful and accessible way.

It can be written or visual, and there are hundreds of different types of content available online. The most common types of content we see online usually fit into one of the following categories:

  • Infographics
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Memes
  • Guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars

Don’t worry – content creation doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Infographics, blog posts and short videos can be created by businesses of all sizes on both big and small budgets, and are relatively simple and straightforward to produce. Guides, whitepapers and webinars are often more time consuming and will require more research, effort and expertise. The type of content you choose to produce will depend on your target audience, type of business and time available.

You may wish to include a range of types of content within your content marketing strategy, or just stick to one or two – there are no rules and you should do whatever works best for your business and your target audience.

Below we’ve included some of our top tips for content creation, based on our own content marketing strategy at Web-Feet!

1. Utilise content creation tools

For the graphic designers and videographers among us, producing an infrographic or short video is a breeze. For the rest of us, it can be hard to know where to start and what tools to use. Thankfully, there are some fantastic content creation tools available online that are completely free, accessible and easy to use.

Canva (below) is a graphic design tool we use for internal marketing at Web-Feet. It’s fantastic for creating high quality infographics and images for social media or blog posts. You can use it to create high-quality and visually engaging templates using your own branding. These can be saved, so you can use them again for future posts or campaigns without starting again from scratch. It’s pretty straightforward and user-friendly, and you can connect multiple social media accounts, making content distribution easy.

content creation buffer

For creating videos to be shared on our YouTube channel, we use the cloud-based online video editing tool WeVideo. WeVideo enables even the least skilled video editor to get to grips with creating high-quality videos, which can be embedded within a blog post (like below) or shared via social media.

2. Brush up on your written English

Writing skills are important when it comes to producing great content. It’s all about effective communication – you need to get your point across to your readers clearly and concisely to keep them engaged.

Your tone, style and the quality of your written work also reflects your brand: a sloppy piece with poor grammar and spelling that hasn’t been proofread doesn’t send across a good message to your readers. In fact, it can be very irritating so read and put people off your company altogether!

Keep your tone clear, consistent and representative of your brand.

If writing skills aren’t a strength in your team, there are some great online tools out there to help. Download the Grammarly Google Chrome extension to eliminate grammar errors and polish your written work.

It’s also a good idea to ask somebody to proofread your work, as even those with the strongest writing abilities can be blind to their own mistakes!

3. Take advantage of data

Content driven by hard facts and data is often the most successful. Many companies will spend lots of money doing research and gathering their own data, which is fantastic if doing so is within your means.

However, you don’t need to spend loads on research in order to produce great content, as there is a world of data out there ready to be taken and turned into a great marketing campaign. Government data is a fantastic source of free, trustworthy data that encompasses a variety of sectors, from business and the economy to health and the environment.

When you use an authoritative data source, your business takes on some of that authority, giving your brand a unique voice it doesn’t normally have. This can enable you to use that data to create something unique, valuable and interesting.

4. Use a Content Calendar

A content calendar is a great tool for planning ahead, making content creation much easier. Use it to plan around seasonal events and dates that are relevant to your business, and let it guide your overall content strategy. Come up with some content ideas and use your content calendar to create a backlog for future marketing campaigns.

You can find out more about planning content and download a free content calendar in our blog post Marketing Planning: Do you know your key dates?

content creation calendar

5. Think carefully about content distribution

Before clicking post or send, think carefully about who you want to target. Knowing your target audience will help you to decide not only the type of content you’re creating, but also where you will place it and how you will spread the word.

Content marketing is about more than just creating your content: it’s also about utilising the best tools out there to promote your valuable content in order to attract and retain customers. Below are three marketing tools that we use at Web-Feet, either for our own marketing or on behalf of our clients.

Buffer

For posting infographics and sharing blog posts on social media, we recommend using Buffer. Buffer is a free social media management platform which enables you to manage multiple social media accounts from one page. You can add content to a ‘queue’, selecting the time, date and place you’d like your content to be published. This means you can plan in advance, setting time aside to create and upload content Buffer which will then trickle your content to your followers.

You can also download the Buffer app to a smartphone or tablet, enabling you to add content to your queue away from your desk and on the go.

Hatchbuck

We also distribute content, such as blog posts, via email. For this we use Hatchbuck, which is a fantastic all-in-one sales and marketing automation software. We love Hatchbuck because of its wide range of features: not only is it a great CRM system for storing contact details, but you can also track leads and prospects, helping you reach out to the right people and stay on top of your marketing strategy. It’s essentially a tool which streamlines your marketing and sales strategy into one place, which makes it a great fit for many businesses.

MailChimp

MailChimp is another marketing automation service that’s popular with businesses of all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have the added bonus of a built in CRM system and functionality that Hatchbuck offers, but it’s a great and affordable alternative if you’re looking for a straightforward email platform. MailChimp is responsive on mobile devices and tablets via an app, so you can use it whilst on the go.

To find out more about the Content Marketing services we offer at Web-Feet, including content creation, then Contact Us today.


Proximity Marketing for the Tourism Industry

Posted on September 26, 2017 by

On average, we check our phones a whopping 150 times a day. This offers a huge number of opportunities for savvy marketers to target us with products.

Marketers know that providing personalised content to end users is critical to increase engagement. We are constantly bombarded with information, which makes filtering what’s important or relevant to us hard. One thing’s for certain – users will engage with content much better when this is done for them.

This concept isn’t new and is used increasingly in end user communications. However, what’s been missing in the past is the physical or location based element to this puzzle. Many websites contain lots of useful information but filtering through this to get to the information you need – especially on a mobile device – is often cumbersome and frustrating.

Bluetooth beacons solve this problem.

Beacons broadcast content that is specific to a physical location. This means that end users get access to what’s relevant and useful to them specific to wherever they may be – whether they’re at an airport, in a hotel, at a tourist location or a shop. Considering ‘near-me’ searches have doubled in the last year, the location specific content has become more important now than ever. It’s expected that 70% of retail companies will use beacons over the next 5 years.

Take a minute to think about the possibilities that beacons offer and you’ll realise powerful this concept is – to be notified of location specific content. Imagine standing outside a famous landmark and receiving a notification on your smartphone, alerting you to a nearby cafe along with a 25% discount – you’d probably swing by and purchase something, wouldn’t you? Offers, maps, and other important information can be all broadcasted via Bluetooth beacons, making the possibilities endless.bluetooth beacons

These beacons enable you to create micro-moments with your customers: these are critical touch points within the consumer journey which, when added together ultimately determine how that journey ends. Micro-moments are all about anticipating your customers needs in a specific physical location, and taking action to provide them with the information they need. Do they need directions? Tourist information?

All the technology exists today to make these location specific micro-moments possible, but it can be hard to know where to start.

This is where Coaster CMS comes in.

Coaster CMS is a next generation, beacon enabled Content Management System. It has been built from the ground up to make the management of content easy for the website owner. It’s beacon enabled with support for both Kontakt and Estimote beacons, and has innovative features that make it the perfect platform to build both static and location based content.

As Coaster CMS was built from the ground up to make use of beacons, it allows different content to be displayed at different times of day. Imagine being able to not only build amazing static and location based content, but also choose the times of day, day of week, or even hour of the day, that different content is displayed – pretty handy, right?

Even if you aren’t ready to move directly into location enabled content, Coaster is an extremely capable CMS in its own right. As such it future proofs your content and serves as a platform to build location based and time specific content as and when you are ready to deploy beacons.

Bluetooth proximity beacons are a technology that will revolutionise our use of the internet, so contact us today to find out how you can make use of this technology now and get yourself ready for the Physical Web.

Coaster CMS is a next generation CMS built from the ground up by Web-Feet, an innovative digital agency based near Southampton in Hampshire. Being an agency we serve the needs of our clients and Coaster reflects this by combining the latest technology but with a focus on usability.

To read a bit more about Beacons in tourism;

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/ibeacons-event-industry/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/yorkshire-wildlife-park-ibeacons/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/beacon-installation-gatwick-airport/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/ljmu-beacons-use/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/lighthouse-city-guide/

http://www.ibeacontrends.com/beacons-levis-stadium/


Setting up the Kontakt Gateway + Location Engine with Proximity Beacons

Posted on September 26, 2017 by

Promotional graphic of Kontakt Location Engine

Introduction

This article will detail how we set up and used Kontakt’s Gateway + Location engine with Bluetooth Proximity Beacons – We’ve worked with Kontakt’s range of Bluetooth Proximity beacons for a while now but it was some time ago that we received our Gateways but never got around to setting them up, until now! Part of the reason for this has been that we’ve been really busy on customer projects and the other is because we thought it might take a while, this couldn’t have been further from the truth as it turns out.

So, we’ve set two Gateways up at our offices in Southampton in the UK and these are both subscribed to Kontakt’s Location Engine. Here’s a summary of how to set them up and what you can do with them. But first…

What is a Kontakt Gateway?

It’s a small USB powered BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) + WiFi device that allows you to track and monitor BLE devices via a cloud interface or API (Application Programming Interface). Effectively real-time Bluetooth scanning that allows you to also connect your BLE beacons to the cloud. The Gateway works directly with the Kontakt Location Engine via a monthly per unit subscription.

What is the Kontakt Location Engine?

The Kontakt website says that ‘the Location Engine is an API that empowers you to build BLE based asset tracking solutions cheaper and faster’. In my view, it’s actually more than this because it doesn’t just allow you to track assets unless you consider people assets – which in many cases they are but I’d prefer to call them people.

It’s also more than an API because it’s actually a very nicely thought and well-presented web interface that gives you access to a broad range of live and historical data based on the movement of BLE enabled devices. Furthermore and perhaps most importantly, it also allows you to set triggers and then actions based on how BLE enabled devices move, say into or out of range of a Gateway. These triggers and actions can be linked to IFTTT  which makes it a really powerful tool.

What does a Kontakt Gateway + Location Engine do?

In practical terms the device allows you to track, monitor and collect data on assets and people via BLE devices. The Location Engine adds the ability to perform real-time actions based on this data.

Setting them up

So each Gateway has a micro USB port for power, one is provided with the unit, but be warned, it’s pretty short (30cm). Don’t worry however as any micro USB cable will do. At this point, you have 2 options for connecting the Gateway to your local wifi network. The first is via the Kontakt app (you will need to be the owner of the device in the Kontakt panel), the other is to connect the device, via USB, to a PC. Both are pretty straightforward – you basically just need your network SSID and password details. Once the Gateways have been updated with your wifi details the LED on the top of the device will show green once it’s been through its startup cycle.

Don’t forget that the gateways each need a subscription to the Location Engine, you have a couple of options here, quarterly or yearly, the latter attracting a discount.

Creating a venue

In order to make use of your Gateway, you need to create a venue. In my case, I set one up called ‘Web-Feet Office’. You then have the option of uploading a floor plan. A good place to create a nice looking floorplan is Roomsketcher. Once you’ve done that, you apply some dimensions in the Kontakt panel for scaling purposes (each Gateway has a range of about 50m) so that the location engine software can apply the appropriate scale radius zones for the Immediate, Near and Far ranges of the beacons. This is so that you have an accurate depiction of the associated ranges of each beacon and nearby devices.

Adding the Gateways to your venue

Now you’ve uploaded the floorplan you can place your beacons, virtually on the plan to reflect where you have placed them physically within the room. It’s really easy to move them around within the panel, just drag and drop. Nice!

Live Streaming data

So you have your Gateways powered up, connected to your wifi network, your floorplan uploaded and your Gateways virtually postioned on the plan. Now you can start streaming live location data. Click on the big green button to start live streaming data to the screen (it will be paused by default). Please note however that the data is still being collected in the cloud, it’s only the streaming of live data to your screen that is paused.

Screenshot of live streaming data in the Location Engine
Live streaming on the Location Engine. The number of devices for each proximity range is displayed in each zone.

Once you’ve started live streaming data you will see how many devices (I’ll explain why I say devices and not beacons shortly) are within range of the Gateways, split into 3 concentric circles to signify the Immediate, Near and Far perimeters. This is standard beacon terminology by the way. You have full control over switching each zone on/off on screen depending on what you want to see. If you click on any of the proximity rings, you will see on the right of the dashboard panel a list of the devices that the Gateway can see in real time. This will be either the 4 character identifier for Kontakt beacons or a MAC address if it’s another Bluetooth device, such as a mobile phone or another non-Kontakt beacon.

You can give the devices an alias if you want to make it easier to identify them in the panel. To do this you can just click on the link next to the device and add the alias. This is something I would recommend doing at the outset as much as possible as it makes the data more valuable that way – especially when assigning triggers and actions, more on this later.

Right now your Gateways are set up and busy collecting data which is being stored on the Kontakt cloud.

Analytics

There are quite a few options within the panel to analyse the data being collected by the Gateways. Here’s the data you can report on.

History

This allows you to select a timeframe and then see which BLE devices were within range of a Gateway during that period. You can see by Immediate, Near and Far for each Gateway and filter accordingly.

Dwell Time

This doesn’t strictly show the dwell time for an individual beacon but actually shows you the cumulative total of BLE devices within the specified time period for a Gateway in each of the 3 proximity ranges, Immediate, Near and Far. This allows you to see, up to a minute by minute timeframe how many BLE devices were in the range of a Gateway and how that changes over your selected timeframe. It should be noted that the actual specific dwell time on a BLE device by device basis is available via the API.

Screenshot of device dwell time by gateway
Dwell time for one gateway, hour by hour for a 24 hour period – shows total number of devices stacked by Far, Near and Immediate proximity

Heatmap

This data is actually very similar to the data presented as Dwell time but isn’t broken down by Immediate, Near and Far – just the total number of BLE devices within range of each Gateway during the specified timeframe.

Screenshot of total BLE devices per gateway over 4 x 15 minute period
Shows 2 x gateways on the horizontal axis and then 4 x 15 min periods with total BLE devices in range during that time as a ‘heatmap’

Connections

Connections provides you with a complete list of other BLE devices that were near one Gateway but in the perspective of another BLE device. For example: Let’s say that there is a Gateway in a meeting room and there was a meeting scheduled by me at 10:00 am for everyone who would like to join. If say a manager would like to know who attended my meeting, by going to connections, they can search for me (my beacon) and see what other devices were reported by the Gateway at 10:00 am.

Timeline

Timeline shows which devices were in range – Near, Immediate or Far – of any Gateway

This is the most detailed view available in the Analytics suite and lists each individual device that is in range of any Gateway for the specified time period, broken down by Gateway. This is a good example also of how an alias is really useful for a Kontakt beacon – see top to entries whereby both my beacon and Taylor’s beacon are in range of both Gateways for the entire period being displayed. Beacon NyTM however was in range of Gateway S14li for the entire period but only in range of Gateway MMaoZ during the period 11:45 – 12:00 and 12:15 – 12:30

Screenshot of the Timeline output in the analytics panel
Timeline shows each device on the horizontal axis and how it was detected by our two Gateways during the selected period.

Triggers and Actions

Triggers are a really powerful feature of the Gateway + Location Engine. They are also incredibly easy to set up. First of all, you name your action – in this example, I’ve set up a trigger called ‘Beacon detected’. You then choose the type of trigger – this can be ‘Beacon detected’ or ‘Beacon lost’. In this exampl, I have used ‘Beacon detected’. Executor can be Cloud, Gateway or Proximity SDK. This allows you to define what part of the solution triggers the action and for this example, as I’m using the Cloud based features, it will be the Cloud. The tracking ID is the ID of the Kontack BLE beacon I want to use to trigger the action. You also configure the proximity range that you want to use for the trigger (this is obscured in the screenshot by the Type drop down). In this case I’ve set this trigger to ‘Near’.  Finally, the source ID is the ID of the Gateway that you want to use to trigger the action. This is all you have to do to set up a trigger.

Screenshot of where you set triggers up in the web panel
This is where you set up your triggers within the Location Engine web panel

Once you’ve set up the trigger, you can click on the tab to assign an action to it. In this instance I’ve created an action called ‘Stewart entered office’. So basically, this is a beacon that’s assigned to me and the trigger is set up so that when I come within ‘Near’ range of the (specified) gateway the action is triggered. The action in this case is to Send HTTP request. The content of the request is to trigger an IFTTT action. Kontakt have a useful guide on their website explaining how this works – you can see it here.

In this case the IFTTT action is to simply send an email when the action is triggered informing the recipient that the action has been triggered (and Stewart has entered the office).

Screenshot of assigning actions to trigger
This is where you set up the actions associated with the triggers you’ve set up in the web panel

The Location Engine API

I want to mention this specifically because the data that is presented with in the Location Engine web panel is only a subset of all the data that is available via Kontakt’s API. The data presented via the web panel is designed to show enough data to provide a really robust, useful and cost effective solution straight out of the box. It’s also pretty easy to set up. This means that there is a whole lot of additional data and analytics that can be accessed using the API. This would require a developer but also offers a whole lot more customisation options. That’s outside the scope of this article however.

Summary

Kontakt has produced a really solid solution with the Gateway + Location Engine. It’s a very powerful solution that’s really easy to set up and make use of straight away. The ability to track assets, set up alerts and trigger actions as well as collect data offers opportunities that would otherwise be very expensive or very difficult to set up. With a huge amount of additional capability available through the API many more complex solutions are possible.


Marketing Planning: Do you know your key dates?

Posted on September 14, 2017 by

A marketing plan is crucial for any business.

If you don’t have a cohesive marketing plan, you’re more likely to slap content together haphazardly.

This approach is risky, and you are unlikely to get the results you want.

A marketing plan will help you to regularly engage your customers with content that’s both relevant and interesting.

When developing a marketing plan, it’s important to keep in mind important dates and events throughout the year. Seasonal planning will guide your marketing themes, which will in turn keeping your content fresh and focused.

Developing a marketing plan also helps to get your team’s mental cogs turning early on, providing inspiration for great content during brainstorming sessions.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a marketing plan yet. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to effectively plan your marketing strategy by:

  • Mapping out the structure of your marketing calendar
  • Planning your campaigns ahead of time
  • Adapting your marketing strategy to events

Create a marketing calendar?

A great way to start your plan is with a marketing calendar. An up-to-date marketing calendar is a fantastic and widely recommended tool. Not only can these record key dates and events, but can also be used to plan blog posts, email marketing strategies, and social media topics for the year.

Having an easily accessible marketing calendar in the workplace, either physically or online (i.e. Google Drive), also helps to open up channels of communication between members of the marketing team.

The whole point of a marketing calendar is essentially to get organised, save time and reduce stress during busy periods.

If you’re a super busy person then don’t stress – Web-Feet have created a marketing calendar free for you: download here

Choose a platform

Google and Microsoft both have online tools for creating calendars that are integrated with Google Mail. These calendars can be very useful, allowing you to set recurring events and reminders, which can be useful for scheduling newsletters, social and blog posts.

At Web-Feet, we often use spreadsheets which can be shared with our team on Google Drive. Spreadsheets are more flexible and allow you to access lots information at a glance, but you will lose the functionality of the online calendar platform. We recommend choosing the platform that best suits your business needs.

Remember your key dates

The annual events, holidays and celebrations that take place throughout the year present different marketing opportunities for different businesses. For many businesses, these dates often coincide with their most busiest and most critical times of the year.  You’ll be able to create future content and campaigns around these general themes and ideas.

Start by listing events that you know will come up throughout the year. These can include:

  • Holidays and seasonal events. Christmas, August Bank Holiday, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Seasonal sale events. Black Friday, Boxing Day sales, etc.
  • Charity and National Awareness events. Movember, Bike Week, Mental Health Awareness Week, etc.
  • Sports, arts and cultural events. Wimbledon, Glastonbury Festival, Royal Ascot, etc.

All of these dates can offer unique opportunities for a variety of business sectors. However, not all events are suitable marketing opportunities for all businesses.

The key thing here is to keep it relevant – if you’re a tea company or a cafe which serves afternoon tea, then National Tea Day on 21st April would be a perfect opportunity to market your business. If you sell children’s shoes, then the school holidays will be important dates to include in your marketing plan.

Try not to stick to the obvious dates – local events, celebrity birthdays and popular TV shows may provide unique marketing opportunities and generate interest in your products and services!

Remember: To protect official sponsors, some events (particularly sporting events, such as the Olympics) have strict rules regarding the commercial use of the official name and logo.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid running a marketing campaign around that particular event – you just need to be careful. The best way to get around this is through adopting a creative approach – you could use relevant, witty hashtags and emojis to allude to a particular event (we have some great examples in our ‘Key Dates 2017’ below!)

I’ve got my marketing calendar sorted – now what?

Once you’ve got an idea of the key dates and events your business is keen to target, it’s time to think about the types of campaigns you can run around the particular theme. Try and plan this in advance, so if necessary you can run your campaign during the build up to the particular event.

The type of campaign you choose will depend on the event chosen, your business and what resources you have.

We’ve listed some marketing strategies below, with some examples of how these strategies can be put into practice.

Social Media 

Social media is a great way to engage with your customers. Integrating social into your marketing calendar can be as simple as joining in the national discussion with witty captions, hashtags, emojis or running a competition on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Social media is also great for giving customers a sneak peak into all the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that goes on in your business. Not only are these strategies good fun, but this also helps to increase engagement and brand awareness. Instagram is a great platform for giving customers an insight into what goes on internally – feel free to follow our own Instagram account @webfeetagency!

Idea ? If you run a gift shop, spa, florist or beauty brand during Mother’s Day, you could hold a photo competition, where followers were asked to share their a picture of their entry, tagging your brand and using the relevant hashtag. The best photo winning a prize (that would work as a suitable Mother’s Day gift).

Paid Advertising

It’s a given that some products will sell better at certain times of the year. Therefore, it’s important to consider which events may trigger an increase in sales, and to create a marketing campaign around that event. If customers are likely to have a heightened interest in a particular product, you want to stick it in front of them as best you can.

Idea ? Imagine you’re a kitchen equipment shop during The Great British Bake Off – consider running a PPC campaign around KitchenAids during this period of time. This could also work for baking equipment, novelty aprons, etc.


Email Marketing

An email marketing campaign is a great way to target customers directly. You could send out E-shots via a CRM system such as Hatchbuck with themed templates, links to blog posts and themed discount codes for products.

Idea ? Le Tour de France is on and you sell bikes – advertise your products through an E-shot (perhaps a yellow or Alpine inspired template?), offering a discount at the checkout with the code ‘letour2017’.

Blogging

Blogs are a fantastic way to increase traffic to your site and generate interest in your brand, and can be easily integrated into your marketing strategy. At Web-Feet, we strongly recommend that all websites have a blog and post content regularly.

Blogs can be easily shared by your followers, fuelling discussion on your social media pages which can attract new customers. Consider posting a collection of themed blog posts about a current event that’s relevant to your business.

If you already have a successful blog on your own website, consider guest blogging for an online publication in an area that is related to your business. As well as increasing brand awareness, they may provide a link through to your website, which can increase your referral traffic and position in the Google search rankings.

Idea ? You sell outdoors clothing and camping gear and it’s festival season – ‘5 Things Everyone Should Take to Glastonbury’ and ‘The Ultimate Guide to Glastonbury 2017’ might be good ideas for blog posts.

Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope it can give you a few ideas to adapt to your business

Key Dates for September – December 2017

To help you get started with your marketing calendar, we’ve put together some of the key dates in the UK for the remainder of 2017.

September
6th – Back to School?
15th – London Fashion Week?
15th – 24th – Southampton Boat Show⛵

October
16th – October Half Term?
29th – Daylight Saving Time ends, clocks go back⏰
31st – Halloween?

November
1st – Start of Movember?
5th – Bonfire Night?

December
25th – Christmas Day?
26th – Boxing Day?
31st – New Years Eve?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but provides a good starting point for a marketing plan.

If you’d like to have a chat about our services with one of our Web-Feet marketing experts, then please Contact Us today.


13 Myths and Misconceptions of SEO

Posted on July 11, 2017 by

Search Engine Optimisation is one of the most talked about, searched for, and read about topics for internet entrepreneurs.

Myth 1: SEO is a Scam

Due to the nature of the internet it is very easy for anyone to claim that they are an SEO ‘guru’. This has made many webmasters skeptical of bringing an SEO into their employ for fear of being ripped off, or worse having their site blacklisted from Google.

Continue reading →


Emoji Push Notifications Boost Marketing Engagement ?

Posted on April 21, 2017 by

emoji

We all ❤ emojis.

Whether they’re used in texts  tweets or adding a bit of magic to our Instagram posts, emojis are everybody’s favourite messaging trend. According to the Telegraph, they’re the fastest growing language in history in the UK.

Their growth in popularity is driven by our love for emojis and the emotions they evoke.

But beyond their novelty purposes, can emojis help mobile marketers engage with users?

Continue reading →


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