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Renascence Rack Cards Arrival

Posted by on Friday, August 16, 2013

Our friends at Renascence have some fantastic Rack Cards! They just arrived, and we're extremely happy with how they turned out.

Take a look:


Content Strategy Explained

Posted by on Friday, July 26, 2013

Content Strategy sounds like something that’s reserved for the Fortune 500 companies. It scares many people because they’re not sure what it is or whether they can actually do it. However, the good news is that it’s an easy thing to do, and it can make a great opportunity for a small business to define what they’re trying to do with the digital medium. It also gives direction to what’s usually a chaotic attempt at Online Marketing. Even right here in Montgomery, Alabama, your business can still use Content Strategy to gain more clients and produce more revenue.

Content Strategy includes a few different areas, like design, development, marketing, SEO, and others. You probably aren’t an expert on all of these, so it’s better to get the right people in the room before you start writing this.

Why am I creating ‘Content’, anyway?

The stuff you’ll create is called ‘Content’, and it includes everything from writing articles to filming videos for YouTube. It’s all content, and it’s all valuable to your business in tons of ways. Your business probably won’t be able to create every type of content, so you’ll get better results concentrating on one or two types. If your website design allows you to have a blog, I would recommend you use it for this purpose.

A simple example would be a local coffee business. They don’t have a large budget, so YouTube videos and a Podcast about Coffee wouldn’t be feasible—but they could write about the newest flavors they produce and make a few videos about their process, which would provide results faster than just text. The video and articles would get traffic from Social Media, which means more customers.

How often are you creating your content?

If you’re filming video, chances are it’s a one-time deal. Most businesses can’t afford to produce monthly videos about their business—but that’s okay, since it isn’t worth it for most people.

I’d suggest you choose to write a few articles per month or per week. It takes effort to follow through with this, and consistency is key to writing. Only set a schedule that you’re willing to stick with in the long-term. One article every two weeks, or even one article per month is okay, as long as you’re consistently posting it on time. Make sure your website design is designed so that it features your content prominently!

I’m already too busy! Why should I add this?

It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but once it comes to taking responsibility, most people take the easy way-out: ‘That sounds great, but I’m too busy, already!’.

The truth is that you should make time for it. You’re leaving money on the table if you attempt anything online without truly setting goals and responsibilities. You’re risking confusion and loss of income that could be coming from new customers. In the long-term, it’s worth it to make some time to sit down and work this stuff out. You’ll be glad you did in six months’ time.

Who is responsible for this stuff?

It’s important to clearly define who is responsible for creating your content, and what they should be creating.

If your secretary is responsible for updating the blog—well, what should she be writing about? Her vacation? She needs relevant topics to your business, and guidelines on what is and isn’t okay for her to write about. This prevents confusion and hurt feelings down the road.

Tell the person responsible how often they should be creating your content, and where they should post it. Give them access to Social Media for your business so they can promote the articles.

Next Week: Define Your Goals

Next week we'll continue this series by talking about Defining Your Goals, and how you can get the most benefit out of your site without having to spend hours working on it.

Stop by and talk with us about how your business can benefit from Content Strategy! We're available anytime during business hours at 334-356-3561, or come by if you're in Montgomery, Alabama!


SiteTips: A New Website Series from ProductiveIT

Posted by on Friday, July 05, 2013

What is SiteTips?

SiteTips is a series that we'll be creating weekly that concentrates on some of the common features that clients can use to make their business better. It'll usually be a short video (<3 minutes), but will occasionally include an article.

The Inaugural Video: Editing a Page

We've gotten numerous calls about this feature, and it's one of the most common things that you'll be doing in Online Business Suite. So, we want to show you the easiest ways to do this. The video walks you through each step, and explains what it is.

SiteTips: Edit a Page in OBS from Taylor Daughtry with ProductiveIT on Vimeo.

The plan right now is to publish these occasionally on some of the most common questions and features that we work with for most clients. Got a suggestion that we should cover? Email us and we might cover it for you!


5 Tips to Make Twitter More Effective for Your Business

Posted by on Friday, June 28, 2013

Twitter is one of the largest social media networks today, and it’s quite possible that many of the people you know at least have an account on Twitter. If you’re like most small businesses, then you might have an account just for your business. Maybe you even post a few times per month.

However, simply having an account isn’t enough to build your business, there are a few things you’ll need to do in order to get the most out of your effort, and make Twitter start working for you, and build your business’s brand:

Make your Twitter name easy to say and remember.

This matters. When you’re talking with someone, make sure your Twitter Handle (your account’s name) is easy to say and understand, as well as remember. SuperCompanyDesign is much easier than SuprDesgnCompanyLLC1. Avoid numbers, abbreviations, or other excessive variations (EX: 5Up3RD351GN instead of SUPERDESIGN) unless they’re an integral part of your business name.

If your company’s name isn’t available, get in touch with the account holder and see if they’re interested in selling the name. (NOTE: this is technically against Twitter’s Terms of Service, so it should used as a last resort. Your mileage may vary!)

If your name isn’t available, try variations. For example, SuperDesign probably isn’t available, but perhaps SuperCompanyDesign is. ExtremeSports isn’t available, but maybe ExtremeAlabama, or ExtremeSportsAlabama is.

Be sure to keep it as short as possible. You want your handle to be short enough to tell someone as they’re hanging up the phone, or as they’re walking away, and still be understood.

Like this:

...Okay, we’ll confirm that meeting tomorrow, but If you need to speak to us quickly, just send us a Tweet at SuperDesign. Have a nice day!

instead of:

... Okay, we’ll continue talking about it tomorrow, but if you need to talk with someone again before then, just send us a tweet at ‘S’ 1 (the number 1), ‘U’, ‘P’, 3 (the number 3),...

It flows much easier in conversation—which is a good thing!

Tweet Often, and Consistently.

If you’re not willing to tweet at least once per week, then it’s not worth the effort to create an account. People generally aren’t willing to follow an account that only posts a few times per month, unless you have some really engaging content. You better be giving away stuff like it’s 1999.

You should at least be posting once per week, but once or twice a day is average, and usually returns good results. The best time to post your best tweets (giveaways, sales, or other things that you think will generate mentions) is usually around 1:00 - 3:00 PM for your target audience. If you’re looking to gain followers that work in the Night guard industry, you might consider varying your post times. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to sometime in the early afternoon.

Talk about Relevant and Interesting Content in Your Industry.

Don’t talk about your cat unless you’re in the pet business. Don’t talk about your car unless that’s relevant to your business. (You’re a mechanic, car salesman, or the like.) This keeps your tweets targeted to a specific audience, and your account will be more likely to gain followers faster. Nobody wants to follow a business account that just talks about personal stuff. Generally, there’s no value there, it’s simply polluting their feed.

However, that isn’t to say that people don’t like any sort of interaction in the human form at all. People tend to favor accounts that have a human quality to them, so occasionally commenting on relevant events in your areas is acceptable and encouraged!

Interaction on Twitter is the Key to Success.

While simply consistently tweeting is a great start to building your brand, It’s when you start interacting with other people that it really becomes a valuable way to spend your time. When someone mentions your brand, make sure you respond to answer their question(s) if they have any, or add something to the conversation they’re having with someone else. The more you talk with others, the more your followers will be engaged with your brand.

Be careful about Who you Allow to Tweet for Your Business.

There are numerous articles written about the disasters that have befallen businesses that don’t follow this suggestion. All it takes is for one person managing your Twitter feed, and suddenly everyone knows about the inner workings of the business, and what’s happening internally. Make sure to place someone responsible and qualified in charge of Social Media, or it could mean disaster later on!

If you’ll follow these few tips on making Twitter more effective for your business, you’re much more likely to see results quicker than simply having an account. Just be consistent, and make sure to respond to people that ask you questions, and you’ll have a fantastic experience!


Google Gets Fresh, Changes Search Algorithm

Posted by Production Productive IT on Monday, November 07, 2011

Google Algorithm

Keeping your website updated with “fresh” new content just got a whole lot more important now that Google has implemented their “Freshness” update. The change, which Google claims will affect 35% of Web searches, took place last week and marks a doubled effort on the search giant’s part to provide users with more relevant, up-to-date results. This means that sites with more recently updated content will be ranked higher than those sites that rarely do anything.

While this mainly affects websites that are tailored to frequent updates – like news sites or blogs – it can also have repercussions on your site’s ranking as indicated by Searchmetrics weekend analysis of the Web’s more popular online destinations. The point being that if you aren’t already using your website to create new content on a weekly – preferably daily basis – you’ve got some work to do!

What are content freshness factors?

While Google hasn’t come forward to specifically identify what defines “freshness” - though they have left a few clues - it’s not hard to pinpoint a few basic credentials that can help you reevaluate your content strategy from here on out.

  • Content is fresh depending on its inception date*
  • Content is fresh if it is time-sensitive (news, press releases, product reviews)
  • Content is fresh if it is unique to a particular site
  • Content is fresh if it is actively shared across multiple social networks
  • Content is fresh if it is relevant to a specific niche
  • Content is fresh if it utilizes keywords appropriately

*This could vary depending on the actual date the content was published or the date it first appeared in search results.


The Basics of a Productive Content Strategy

Posted by Production Productive IT on Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Productive Content Strategy

In the past, when building a website, it was considered acceptable to simply create a design and fill it with content. However, that "strategy" only uses 10% of your website's total potential as a marketing tool. What you really need is a Content Strategy.

Defining a Content Strategy

Content is commonly defined as any text, image, video, podcast, or link that can be used towards influencing a user/client's experience online. Therefore a content strategy is the process by which you share content that will engage your audience and convert them into customers.

Why is it Important?

You may be thinking: "Well, okay, that's sounds easy enough. I create content all the time." The difference, however, can be like night and day. We all create content every day, but how much of it really matters? Quantity doesn't always yield quality.

A content strategy helps you stay focused on generating the right kind of content that can be delivered to the right kind of audience. It helps you find a consistent voice and prevents you from wasting time, money, and other resources on content that's not achieving the results you need.

Web Strategy

Where to Start

The first step in any strategy should always be to define your goal. Do you want to sell more products or do you wish to become a thought leader in your industry? Often times these goals can cross over, but you should always have a purpose to any marketing effort you employ.

Once you've established a purpose you can then begin to get more specific: defining what kind of content you need to write, who should create it, where it will be most useful (website, social media profiles), and how often it should be published.

How to Identify Poor Content

This is perhaps the trickiest part of content strategy. The most obvious identifier of poor content is that it's not helping you achieve your goals (ie. selling more product or building brand recognition). Another common mistake is ignoring important keywords for link building and boosting traffic.

However, one of the most overlooked aspects of poor content is that it fails to understand your audience's needs. When you lose site of your content's purpose it will become less engaging and ultimately ignored by your audience.

Need help?

The crew here at Productive I.T. is always ready to assist you with any design, development or marketing need you may have. Drop us a line or give us a call and let us know how we can help.



Enticing Readers Down the Rabbit Hole

Posted by Hanan Wilson on Monday, March 07, 2011

Website Story

Our PIT leader (Hanan) recently shared an interesting article with me entitled, Life: Below 600px by an Irish web designer named Paddy Donnelly that really struck a chord. In the article, Donnelly conveys the article's point with a clever visual demonstration that flips the current trend of placing all of a site's premium content "above the fold" (an industry term for the space immediately viewable in a browser window, much like a newspaper that has been folded).

Reward Visitors for Scrolling

While he's not the first to cover the topic, Donnelly nonetheless incites his readers to buck the golden rule of cramming as much information above the fold as possible for a more mischievous, and admittedly sensical, approach where readers are encouraged to scroll the entire length of a page and are ultimately rewarded for doing so. This reward could be monetary (a special discount), the exchange of important information, or even just a strong call to action. Donnelly makes a lot of good points, many of which are being employed (either consciously or not) by websites that have begun focusing more attention on their footers. For instance, here at Productive I.T. we've placed a lot of useful support information, our e-newsletter signup form, and a fun team illustration that changes every month all at the footer of our site.

Rabbit Hole Blog
Disney's Alice in Wonderland side-by-side with Donnelly's "below the fold" example of 37 Signals


Invite People Down the Rabbit Hole

As both a designer and a reader I can appreciate the unification between a site's content (it's message) and it's overall design that Donnelly is hinting at. Oftentimes, I'll find myself immediately drawn to the footer of a site for (dare I say) the instant gratification of being able to find exactly what I need. Alternatively, while still arguably effective, the big header images that have become a stable of many designs can be accused of being over bearing at times (kind of like a billboard on the interstate). That's not to say that either method is better than the other, both have their place in design. However, it does bring up some new ways to employ these tools (header images, footers) to convey a site's message. Don't be afraid to be creative... invite your visitors down the rabbit hole every once in awhile.

Further Reading:
IAmPaddy: Life Below 600 px
Below the Fold: Why Scrolling Isn’t A Bad Thing
Debunking the Myth of the Page Fold in Web Design

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