Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Ways to Increase your Email Marketing List

Kim Kolb - Thursday, January 27, 2011

If you don’t have any compelling offers on your site, you’re ignoring a huge opportunity to grow the size of your email list. This is true whether you're a B2C or a B2B company - offers are one of the most effective ways to harvest email addresses and leads from your site traffic.  You'll want to note that a boring quarterly newsletter is NOT featured below.

Here are 4 ways to create offers that can help dramatically increase the size of your email list and lead conversion volume.

Educational / How To Offers

These type of offers are valuable to B2B's because you are giving them valuable information. These can also be good for B2C's because those are most time "How To's". Regardless of B2B or B2C, you are offering a "way" to do something.

  • eBooks – “Download our comprehensive guide to inbound marketing and ecommerce”
  • Whitepapers – “Understand how to nurture your email list”
  • Buyer's Guides – “Which LED underbody kit is right for you?”
  • Fact Sheets – “10 facts you need to know before purchasing a used car”
  • Checklists – “The 5 key steps to preparing your IT department for the iPhone 4”

Free Stuff Offers

Everyone loves free stuff. Every week, I get a free offer from "All You".  Whether I need it or not, I submit my info to receive my free sample.

  • Contests - “Send us your cutest dog picture; cutest picture wins free doggy day care!”
  • Sweepstakes – “Enter for a chance to win a free copy of the book!”
  • Giveaways – “Register for your free welcome gift of a free keychain!”
  • Quizzes –“Who was Warren G. Harding’s dog? Let us know and two lucky history buffs gets a free dog bowl!”
  • Surveys – “Take our survey and get $10 off your first order!”

Coupons and Deals

Like with the free stuff offers above, everyone likes to feel as though they are getting a good deal. Running special offers for a discount is always a great way to get more customers:

  • Coupons for dollars or percentage off – “Sign up for future offers and savings to receive 10% off your next order today!”
  • Free shipping – “Create an account today and get free 2-day shipping through March 1st!”
  • Time-sensitive discounts – “Save 20% on flower arrangements through February 14th – order soon, roses are going fast this year!”
  • Bundled deals – “Fill out the form to get a free iPad if you sign up for our service in the next 2 weeks!”

Events

Events can create huge engagement from your interested prospects and customers. Because events require your prospects to physically show up at a certain place at a certain time – even if that “place” is online – event registrations indicate serious fans of your brand, products, and services. Think creatively about what constitutes an "event" for you: consider sponsoring charity events, conducting in-house mini-events, and use your site to collect registrations with names, emails, and other pertinent information.

  • Webinars – “How to get more leads using Email Marketing”
  • Off-site events – “Meet us at the Fine Arts Center for a fundraising event on Tuesday”
  • On-site / in-store events – “Come in every Friday for free drinks, snacks!”

Spin up a few new landing pages on your site and start experimenting. You will quickly find which have the best traction among your traffic and customer base if you keep an eye on your offer's performance metrics. Encourage your new email signups to share your offers on social media, email the offer to a friend, and get the word out to exponentially increase your offer's reach.

Tell us how you grow your email list?

Who's Talking About You and Are you Aware of it

Kim Kolb - Sunday, October 24, 2010

Now that Social Media has been around for a awhile, and I say awhile meaning around 2 years for most people that will acknowledge it. There are still businesses out there dragging their feet at even attempting the use of Social Media.  

If you haven't embraced it in some manner, what's holding you back? Do you know if people are talking about you?  What if someone is giving you a compliment right now and you don't know it? Worse is if someone is complaining about you and again you don't know it.  How do you try to fix something you don't know is happening?

The following story is a true story that happened to a friend.  This person lives in a small town in Bend, OR.  He has frequented a particular coffee shop every day, 365 days a year.  He say's he spends about $1,400 a year at this place.  It is a ritual to stop in, and yes everyone knows him.

On one particular morning he went in to order his usual (he orders the same thing every day) and they tell him that they are out of one of the items that is needed to make his drink.  He is fine with this and asks that they order more.  The next day he goes in and they still don't have the item.  He gives the manager $20 to go buy some at the local store for the next morning.  He comes back yet again the next morning and before he could get out of his car, the manager comes running out and gives him his $20 back and tells him not to come back.  

To me this was an easy fix.  Take the $20 go buy the item and make the customer happy.. Nope, not in this case.  Here is where it gets really good.

Immediately my friend who has been a loyal customer for years has now been insulted and made to feel like he is not valued as a customer and worse, made to feel that his offer of help was really not wanted.

Here is where you as a business can't afford to let this go unchecked.

My friend immediate got a Yelp account and started telling the world about this incident.  He was blogging about it and telling people what crappy customer service he had received after being a loyal customer.

It took about two weeks and after checking back on his Yelp account, the coffee shop has made amends and my friend is back to his regular routine.  Obviously they heard the lesson loud and clear and decided to fix this problem quickly so they wouldn't lose a loyal customer.

This is not just for those in the "service" industry, but for every business.  If you aren't listening you can't be certain what is being said.

It is like that old commercial "You tell two friends, then they tell two friends, etc" get the point?

I am not saying you have to have a Yelp account, although it isn't a bad idea, I am talking more like Facebook and Twitter.  There are more people on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn than you would think.  This is where people start their searches.

My advice.  Start somewhere.  Engage your clients/customers and start listening and interacting.

What are you doing to ensure you hear your customers?

photo credit : The Freeman

Web Designers and Realtors can learn a lot from each other

Dave Kolb - Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A couple weeks ago I was working out on one of those fancy elliptical machines with a built-in TV. I usually watch ESPN or CNN, but it was a slow news day and I was sick of hearing about the LeBron Decision. Anyway, I surfed on over to HGTV, where I watched an interesting program on how to stage your house to sell it.

Many of their recommendations could be applied to a website re-design:
  1. Consider the curb appeal. You want to make sure your house looks great from the outside. First impressions count. Yard should be mowed, trees trimmed and sidewalks washed. No need to invest in expensive trees, shrubbery, etc.

    Designer's view: Your homepage needs to be clean and inviting. I wouldn't invest in any Flash intros, or fancy animations. People will just walk buy, or ignore them.

  2. Get rid of the clutter and de-personalize. Your house should show like a new home builder's model home. Promote negative space and keep the decorating neutral. Less is more. You want the buyer to focus on the home, not the furniture.

    Designer's view: Whitespace is good and you shouldn't feel compelled to fill all 960 pixels. Most websites have too many distractions and it's hard to simply find a phone number, price, or information about the products or services.
  3. Watch where the eyes go. Walk around your house with a friend or family member and watch where their eyes go. Chances are, they are either going towards something they like, or a flaw they've found.

    Designer's view: Look at your statistics and find out where people are going. If you find they spend a lot of time on the site looking at a lot of pages, chances are—they didn't find what they were looking for. If a lot of your visitors are clicking a conversion button, but not converting—you might have something wrong with your conversion page.
  4. Hire a professional. You're personally invested in your home and it will be very hard to step away and follow simple staging guidelines. You'll also probably spend too much money because you don't know where the deals are and what will get you the most bang for your buck.

    Designer's view: If you are considering building a new website, or are re-designing one, hire a professional. Define your budget up front and find someone to work with who can work within a pre-defined budget. Remember, websites take ongoing maintenance so make sure you budget for that to. Nowadays, a Content Management System, or a Blogging Platform can be implemented so you can do most the maintenance yourself.

Now here's a hint for all the Realtor's out there:

Go look at your website. Is it staged properly? Most Realtor websites I go to are cluttered, unorganized and look like they were designed by SEO Specialists, not Web Designers.

My advise to Realtors is to eat your own dog food. Follow your own advise on staging to get your websites to look and function better.

Please feel free to add comments below:

Customer service: the key to your design business success

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This post is by Adam Broadway of Adobe Business Catalyst.  We were asked to be interviewed to give our story on why we use Business Catalyst and what we could offer other Designers in their success. We loved sharing our story.. I hope you like it as well.

Dave and Kim Kolb share experiences in growing their business, Hightouchweb.com – ideas that could help grow your design business.

After meeting at a resort, falling in love and being laid off at the 2000 tech bubble burst, Dave and Kim decided it was time to build their own Web company.

By combining and complementing their strengths in strategy, design and marketing, HighTouchweb.com was born.

MP3 audio interview of Dave and Kim Kolb, has them candidly sharing:

  1. Finding motivation in each other and maintaining a "CAN DO" attitude, to get through the tough times.
  2. Have fun doing it - Love what you do and "whatever you do", do it well.
  3. Taking time to follow up with every client (Kim sends personal welcome cards to every one of their customers).
  4. Dave shares his feelings on building their own CMS and the pain of using lots of 3rd party open source plug-ins, that didn't always work.

In their words:

  • Keep it simple and excel at the basics.
  • Don't be all things to all people, you'll drive yourself crazy.
  • Know who you are and what you do.

A Business Catalyst feature that benefits their clients:

"We view InContextEditing as the strongest sales tool within the tool set that BC offers. You can take a mere mortal and have them updating their website in no time with little or no training. The power this gives the client is priceless. They feel like they are actually participating."

I hope you enjoy hearing some of their story as much as I did.

Adam :)

Click here for the mp3 interview of Dave and Kim Kolb.

Super Bowl XLIV : Tweeters Talk About Your Brand

Kim Kolb - Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV brought Tweeters from all over to talk about the Super Bowl ads that were aired.

Mullen, and Radian6, a leader in social media measurement, created BrandBowl2010, a Twitter/Super Bowl experience that combined tweeting, ad reviews and a host of metrics to let viewers generate and view real time ratings of the TV commercials that ran on the big game.

It was determined that there were a total of 98,656 Tweets collected at BrandBowl2010.

This is a perfect example of being part of the conversation and listening to what consumers are saying about your Brand.  I wonder if any of the companies actually were on this Tweetfest last night?  The feedback on all ads had positive and negative results.  

It was amazing to see the amount of tweets.. At times there were over a 1000 updates as once.  It was hard to keep up with them all, but the experience was a great one.

In light of Inbound Marketing being such a great focus right now, last night we experienced OutBound Marketing at its fullest.  How many of us watch the Super Bowl for the Ads?  I am guilty of this since I am not a huge Football fan.  Why do we watch the Commercials if we are so about Inbound Marketing?  For me, knowing what I know about Outbound and Inbound Marketing I do it just to see who spends the most.  Budweiser, from the amount of commercials I think spent the most.  My question is Why?

Pepsi decided this year not to use their money on commercials, instead they decided to use their money on Social Media by starting the Pepsi Refresh Project where they are looking for people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive impact. They have hundreds of people fighting for their cause.  What an impact this is having.

What are your thoughts on the Super Bowl Ads?  Did it persuade you to go out and act on any of the ads?

Better yet, are you going to continue using your marketing dollars on Outbound Marketing or are you going to give Inbound Marketing a try?

Are You Part of the Conversation about your Company

Kim Kolb - Friday, February 05, 2010
As an Inbound Marketer, I am schooled by the best.  When one of the industry experts says "Blog", well I blog.. I might not be excellent at it but I am doing what I am told.  Why? Because the Industry experts have been doing this way longer than me and who am I to argue with a proven fact!

Why is it that when I tell my clients, "You Need to Blog", they say yes, yes I do.  Yep, and that is the last time it is spoken.

When a company doesn't take advantage of Inbound Marketing and Blogging, I just want to scream.  I think I would be rich if I got paid a $1 for every time I heard "I am working on it".  Really, how long does it take?

How do you plan to be part of a conversation about YOU if you never enter the room?  Companies that are slow to respond or better yet, talk about it and never act, are missing opportunities to be in on the conversation that their competitors are having.

Your future clients are not talking about you, oh no, they are talking about your competition, because your competition is out there talking to them.  They can't talk to you because they don't know you exist.  If your future clients don't know you exist you won't get any leads.  Better yet, you can't show them how great your product is because your competition is dominating the space.

Blogging much? No?  Your competition is.  They are writing articles that show future clients and others that they are Thought Leaders in their space and that they should follow them.  They get comments from current and future clients that provide valuable feedback to the their product and service.  How do you improve if you don't have any feedback?

If you are a company that is still thinking about blogging and have yet to get on the bus, NOW is the time. Don't waste another moment.  You have tons to tell people and they are waiting to hear from you.  

If you have Inbound Marketers around you that are trying to get you involved in Social Media and Blogging, listen to them.. They know what they are talking about.

I know this blog sounds a little harsh, but as your parents use to tell you "I am not telling you this to listen to myself talk, I'm telling you this because I LOVE YOU!"

Don't be left out of the conversation about your company!

Top 10 Reasons Why Online Marketing Dominates Traditional Advertising

Kim Kolb - Monday, November 16, 2009

Online marketing has become the most successful method of advertising for any kind of business during the last decade. It is fast and promotes your business to thousands of potential customers daily. As marketing is a primary factor to a successful business, the internet facilitates this process in a way that will ensure the maximum exposure to what you are offering.

Traditional marketing, known as outbound marketing or interruptive marketing, requires much more time and effort. It often takes many people to be involved which means it takes more time, resources and money to produce. Outbound Marketing is also very hard to track for results. With the internet you can reach customers all over the globe in a matter of seconds. Online marketing is superior to traditional ways of marketing in almost every aspect. Here is a list of the top 10 reasons online marketing dominates traditional advertising.

1. SPEED

  • Email marketing campaigns are fast, targeted, cost-effective, highly efficient method of marketing your business.
  • Traditional mail marketing can take months and a lot of money and effort to generate results.

2. GEOGRAPHICAL RESTRICTIONS

  • The whole globe can be your customer base when you are marketing your business online, as the internet reaches almost every house on the planet.
  • Traditional Marketing restricts the amount of people you can reach.

3. MARKETING EFFECTS

  • Online marketing is based on pull marketing or Inbound Marketing, which means the customer found you while looking for a particular item.
  • While offline marketing is based on push marketing effects, which means you have to introduce your business to every single customer that comes into your location.

4. SALES PROCESS

  • When your business is marketing online, you can make a sale in a matter of seconds; whether it is an online store they are shopping or request more information through a contact form.
  • Offline advertising is very different in that someone has to sell the person the item, which means the person has to have the product knowledge and ability to sell to someone.

5. HOURS OF OPERATION

  • Your website is your business being open 24/7. Generating leads, and sales while you are asleep.
  • Offline stores are restricted to the human active times, this means you open in the morning and close in the evening and you can’t make a sale while you are closed. In other words, the offline selling process has a shorter sales life than the online one.

6. COST OF MEDIA

  • Online marketing allows you to make a short video or audio commercial and submit it thousands of media communities and is usually free or minimal charge.
  • To make a commercial on TV or radio or place an ad in the newspaper is a very costly engagement.

7. LIMITED ADVERTISING LIFE SPAN

  • When you post an ad online about your business or website, using an article for example, it can be online forever.
  • Traditional Ads can be active for an agreed-upon period of time and then it will be replaced.

8. COST PER CUSTOMER

  • These costs are reasonably low with online marketing but relatively high with offline forms of advertising. They are simply the costs incurred to generate potential customers for the business.

9. CUSTOMER SUPPORT

  • Online customer support can usually be solved via email.
  • Offline support requires a little more time and effort to be resolved.

10. ONGOING MARKETING INFORMATION

  • Data collection online is instant. You can track marketing efforts via google and other tracking tools.
  • Offline data collection is usually paper copies of items which usually take up storage space and requires manual computation for stats.

As you can see, online marketing is a far more cost effective method of marketing to traditional marketing. Online marketing is all about saving you money, time, and effort; yet brings you the required results you seek and most of the time exceeds your expectations.

Social Networking on the Rise

Kim Kolb - Saturday, November 14, 2009

Web 2.0 is the latest evolution of search engine technology. Today it’s no longer good enough to have a professional-looking webpage and a blog. Successful companies are posting viral videos on Youtube, creating Facebook Fan Pages, Myspace pages, getting followers on Twitter, Connecting with other colleagues on LinkedIn and applying cutting-edge technology to their core business principles. Now business owners big and small are looking to get these services to help them catch up with this ever-evolving phenomenon.

According to a 2009 Deloitte survey, 94% of business executives plan on ramping up their social networking participation over the next 12 months. Additionally, nearly 40% of businesses are hiring full-time professionals at an online marketing company to manage their social networking strategies.

Francois Gossieaux, a senior fellow with the Society of New Communications Research, says there are still “plenty of companies who do not realize the power of communities, and others who have not yet figured out the proper approach for leveraging communities as part of their business.” He adds, “Businesses are truly becoming social again, and companies should look to leverage the collective wisdom of their employees, customers and partners in order to innovate faster, reduce costs and bolster their bottom lines."



A Professional website design on a solid foundation is the first step towards your Online Success.  Your Online presence needs to engage your potential customers by Calls-to-Action and the Remarkable content you display.    

Whether you are one of the companies already on the Web 2.0 wave or just starting out, the rules of Marketing your company have changed.  If you are not capitalizing on the Social Media, Blogs, RSS tools that are available to you, you are missing out. 

Today the success of marketing your company does not rely on the size of your budget rather the time and willingness you have to put into your online marketing presence.  I think some companies would rather throw dollars at the marketing than to put time into it.  I think this is one of those times when we find out who the "Real Players" are.

Thoughts?

Who Says Bad Service Doesn't Affect Marketing

Dave Kolb - Thursday, July 23, 2009
Bad PR (customer service) caused United Airlines’ stock price to suffer a mid-flight stall, and it plunged by 10%, costing shareholders $180 million. Which, incidentally, would have bought Carroll (the star in the video below) more than 51,000 replacement guitars. Read the full story

This is not only a good lesson in the importance of good customer service, but it's also a good song and very well produced. Nice job guys...over 3.5 million views on YouTube!


Turn Deal Breakers into Deal Makers

Dave Kolb - Friday, April 24, 2009
Every business has high-maintenance customers. You know...the ones who are always complaining, the ones that call at 4:59PM on a Friday, or the ones nobody wants to deal with. The ones who criticize your products and threaten to leave...but never do. As a business owner, it's tough to hear criticism without taking it personally, becoming defensive and wanting this recession to go away so all the bad customers would go away and you could replace them with great, new customers who love you services and recommend them to everyone they know. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen in good times or bad. We just notice it more in bad times.

Reach out to your "bad customers" and see if you can do better by "serving them better" That's right, give in to the ego and start listening to what they have to say. Chances are, they might hold the key to opening up new markets, and/or missed opportunities. Remember: We're in a recession and they are evolving too. Just as you're stuck with them, they may be feeling the same way. Your goal should be to take your worst customer and turn them into your "best testimonial".  Think Southwest Airlines, Netflix, and Apple.

What to do?


  1. Talk to your "bad customers" (preferably face to face) and ask how you can better serve them. This will give you insight on what "the market is thinking", as well as how you can better serve their needs. Remember: check the ego at the door and be open-minded to every suggestion they have. You can sort things out later.
  2. Shop their problems to the competition. Create a profile of "your" customer's pain points and shop them to the competition. See how they deal with those issues. If they are poorly addressed, or not at all, there's an opportunity! If your competition is already addressing "your customer pain points" you may be losing business. 
  3. Look at your business model and find ways to help your customers afford your products and services. Try different packages and promotions that specifically address your "pain point profile".  
  4. Turn deal breakers into deal makers. Once you've figured out how to better server your bad customers, make sure you tell the world what you've done. Example: If you determine all your bad customers want is timely telephone support, as opposed to email support, make sure you boast about that to new prospects. You may find that's what closes the deal.

RSS RSS Feed

Recent Posts

Tag Cloud

Tag List

Archive