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?

What are Inbound Links and Why they are good for your Search Results

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inbound links are the unsung hero of successful inbound marketing. They help increase traffic, and improve SEO.

But what is an inbound link? An inbound link is a link from one website to another website. For example, this is an inbound link to Hubspot.com. The inbound description is generally used by the person receiving the link. So HubSpot might say, "I received an inbound link from HighTouch.

So why do you need inbound links? Two reasons. First, it's an opportunity to receive referral traffic from another website. An inbound link from a blog is an avenue for that blog's readers to visit you. But depending on the amount of traffic that blog or website receives, the link may send a low volume of traffic.

So what does a good inbound link look like? Good question! There are three primary qualities that define the quality and strength of an inbound link:

1. Comes from an authoritative website. So, if Hubspot were to link to HighTouch's blog, they would be an authority since Inbound Marketing is what they are all about.

2. Uses anchortext. Anchortext is the text that "holds" the link. For example, you can link to another site by either writing the URL, or using anchortext (www.hubspot.com or Hubspot, respectively).

3. Has descriptive anchortext. The reason we like anchortext in point #2 is because it gives the linker the opportunity to describe the linked-to site in the link itself. This is great for the person who is receiving the link, because now search engines will have more information about his or her site. (For Example if you have a link that goes off the site, you can call it something relative to what you are talking about like, click here for more Website Design and SEO tips, linking Website Design as the anchor text.)

You can see here from the Analytics what the sites are that refer traffic to HighTouch...  Notice Facebook is at the Top, just a plug for Social Media Efforts.

Have you checked your site for Inbound Links lately?  Blogging is a great way to accomplish this as well as commenting on other relevant blogs.

What is your highest referring site?

Website Re-Design: Make sure your Web Designer Sweats the Details

Dave Kolb - Monday, November 08, 2010

Most of our business comes from clients who already have websites and are looking for an upgrade to a modern content management system like Adobe Business Catalyst. That said, I find myself looking at a lot of other web designer's work. What amazes me is the lack of attention to detail in the work.

First, this is not intended to bash other designers and developers. For the most part (and there are definitely exceptions), the code I see is good and the layouts are fine. What's missing is the attention to detail, specifically, the boring stuff!

Details, details, details

Here are some examples of details so-called professional web designers often overlook:

  • Optimizing browser page titles
  • Optimizing page URLs
  • Optimizing H1 tags
  • Using ALT tags for all images
  • Spelling errors (ok, I admit...I'm bad at this one, but I try)
  • Clearly defining "who you are and what you do" IMMEDIATELY on the homepage
  • Linking the logo "back home" (not necessarily a rule, but it's expected by most users)
  • Including COMPLETE contact information (personally, I like to have at least a contact link and phone number on each and every page.
  • Including a tag line near the logo (not required, but helps define "who you are and what you do"
  • Not customizing error pages and messages for when things go wrong. Nothing is more annoying than seeing the "stock" error message.
  • Not having a CLEAR call to action and more importantly, not finishing the job by including a well-written auto-responder (with contact information) and friendly landing page (with possibly some up-sell information). 

I'm sure there are other details I'm forgetting, but these are the obvious ones that should be included in the design and development cycle. I know many designers consider "optimization" as part of SEO, and "usability" as part of strategy...which is just code for additional billable hours down the road.

These details, if addressed during the design and development cycle are much easier to do and should be built into the initial estimate. Cutting corners to force-fit a budget is not worth it in the long run.

Please feel free comment on this, or contact me with questions.

At HighTouch, we sweat the details.

How is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, Email Marketing and YouTube Affecting Your Business

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Every month I like to reflect on how my on-line marketing efforts are working with my Social Media efforts and my website.  Here are tools I use, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogging. I have 3 Twitter Accounts, 2 Facebook Accounts, 2 Facebook Pages, 1 LinkedIn Account and 2 Blogs I maintain. Now these are not all my main business accounts with HighTouch Marketing and Design, I also have a passion for Wine in which that is another set of accounts in this mix.  I know what you are thinking..."How does she manage all those accounts?"  HootSuite is what I use, but TweetDeck is also another great tool.

So with all these accounts what is my goal for my business and my passion?  To drive traffic to them! Why? Why would you spend all this time on these marketing efforts and not have a plan?  If you are just aimlessly out there "Playing" then you are not serious about your business. If your goal is not to get more people to your website to find out about you and then to get them to convert to a lead/sale then you really need to stop your efforts. 

Converting a Lead/Sale is different for everyone. With my company HighTouch, my goal is to create traffic to my site so I can convert someone into getting a website redesigned or created and to help that customer market their business.  My Wine site on the other hand, a Lead/Sale is different.  Right now I am working on name recognition, trust and winery profiles. So a conversion can be different for the type of business you are in.

Tracking your efforts

There are great tools like Google Analytics, it is FREE, that you can use to track the traffic on your site, where people are coming from, what they are clicking on, etc.  Tracking your efforts is as important as the actual effort.  You can track all your social media and blogging efforts here as well as putting links on your site to drive traffic to those particular venues.

Here are some Cool Stats from my friend at Bonsai Interactive Marketing. Pay close attention as these stats show you that people are out there and they are searching for you.  What will they see when they find you?

Facebook Stats:

  • The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts,
  • notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared each month.
  • More than 150 million people engage with Facebook on external websites
  • every month.
  • There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook
  • through their mobile devices.
  • The average Facebook user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events.
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook.

Twitter Stats:

  • Twitter’s web platform only accounts for a quarter of its users – 75% use
  • third-party apps.
  • Twitter gets more than 300,000 new users every day.
  • There are currently 110 million users of Twitter’s services.
  • Twitter receives 180 million unique visits each month.
  • There are more than 600 million searches on Twitter every day.
  • Over 60% of Twitter use is outside the U.S.
  • More than a third of users access Twitter via their mobile phone

LinkedIn Stats:

  • LinkedIn is the oldest of the four sites in this ebook, having been created
  • on May 5 2003.
  • here are more than 70 million users worldwide.
  • Members of LinkedIn come from more than 200 countries from every
  • continent.
  • 80% of companies use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every second.
  • LinkedIn receives almost 12 million unique visitors per day.
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn.

Blogging Stats:

  • 77% of Internet users read blogs.
  • 60% of bloggers are between the ages 18-44.
  • One in five bloggers update their blogs daily.
  • Two thirds of bloggers are male.
  • Corporate blogging accounts for 14% of blogs.
  • 15% of bloggers spend 10 hours a week blogging.
  • More than 50% of bloggers have more than one blog.
  • Bloggers use an average of five different social sites to drive traffic to
  • their blog.

YouTube Stats:

  • The very first video uploaded was on 23rd April 2005.
  • By June 2006, more than 65,000 videos were being uploaded every day.
  • YouTube receives more than 2 billion viewers per day.
  • The U.S. accounts for 70% of YouTube users.

So what's the point to all this?  The point or rather the questions are:

  • Are you using On-line Marketing to drive traffic to your site?
  • Are you tracking your efforts?
  • What changes have you noticed, good or bad?
photo credit, jaxxshirts.com


Blogging Will Be The Death Of Us Yet. Keep up the good fight!

Kim Kolb - Thursday, July 01, 2010
Blogging is one of those things that we hate to do and struggle and complain and moan all the while we are getting ready to do it and even when we are doing it and then when it is done, we think wheew, that wasn't so hard.  I equate it to working out at 5:30am (I do this EVERY morning, except weekends). I know I need to do it, I know it is good for me, but I really don't want to get up that stinkin early to work out.  Then after it is all over, I am all happy and chipper and ready to face the day.

Why do we fight what we know is right?  If we all would succumb to this necessary evil, we would all be better off.  To help make you feel better and to encourage you to Blog, here is why it is so EXTREMELY important.

Blogging gives your company a voice - Really?  Yes, really.  Alot of companies outsource the content of their blog to 3rd party companies, which is fine EXCEPT...your voice, the voice of the company is never heard.  Here's what I mean.  I have a totally different writing style than my husband.  I am more jovial and I write as if I were talking to my friend about the subject.  So you will see lot of ! from me and lots of ... My husband on the other hand is very formal in his writing. You would definitely be able to tell if he were to start writing for me. (I hope)

Starting a blog no matter when it is - Start a blog when the "shit hits the fan so to speak".  If you can be the first to start talking about a situation, then you become the expert.  For example.  The housing industry really SUCKS right now.  Why don't home builders blog about how it is a good time to buy because interest rates are low or How someone can capitalize on this economy.  If you tell people what they should know, then they will know it and act on it. Kinda like the BBQ place that says "Best BBQ in town" We tell everyone they are the best, why, because they said so.

Blogs get indexed faster than your website - I know, you spent a lot of money on your site and you want people to go there and see how beautiful it is.  They will in time.  When you write a blog, you create remarkable content by default because you are writing "Topic" specific. Google indexes these quicker because the content constantly changes.  From your Blog, you can direct folks back to your site, but remember, direct them someplace specific so they don't have to figure out where you want them to go.  Remember, tell them what they should know and they will know it. :)

Blogging promotes respectfulness - It is always a great sign of respect when you read your fellow bloggers blog and leave a comment.  Shows you are interested enough to read and provide valuable input.  It also makes the author feel validated.

Blogging withstands time - Blogging will always and has been around for a very long time. Tools come and tools go, but blogging is definitely here to stay.  Maybe we should coin a new phrase "Blogging is forever" instead of diamonds.. I hope I didn't upset the ladies.

Blogging enforces content creation - When you write good content it creates buzz, when you have buzz, you get traffic, and when you have traffic you create leads.. Get it..

Which reminds me: If I haven't mentioned it, blogging is good for SEO? Blogging will get you indexed faster... Most times faster than your website.

So here is my one last and final plea!  If you aren't blogging you are being left out..Don't be the kid that lets blogging pass you by.  This is one of those times where if you want to be the "Cool Kid", then do what the Cool Kids do and get a blog. If you need help, get ahold of me.

I would love to hear how you or a client is dragging their feet, kickin and screaming "I don't wanna Blog, and you can't make me"!



Business Catalyst NOT-SO-SEXY Upgrades

Dave Kolb - Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The feature upgrades and enhancements from Business Catalyst (since the Adobe purchase) have been coming to us at a slow pace. BUT I LIKE IT! The code is cleaner and BETA looks like it means BETA, rather than ALPHA. Most of what's been released lately hasn't been all that sexy, but good none-the-less. I'd like to hear what you think. Please comment below, or contact us.

Here is a summary of the new Business Catalyst features:

Dynamic Menu Toggle
There is now a checkbox at the bottom of each dynamic menu item that lets you choose whether a menu item is displayed live on your site. Very helpful if you simply want to deactivate a menu item temporarily.

Site Search Technology was Upgraded
Both the Site Search (which searches forums, blog posts, web-app items, products etc) and Product Search (which searches products only) have had the technology that powers them upgraded. Search terms are now highlighted and results display much quicker!

DNS Management Tools
Ok, this one is probably the least sexy, but very useful. You now have the ability to manage DNS via your Domain Admin control panel. This is particularly useful if you want to simply setup sub-domains, like: blog.yourdomain.com, or shop.yourdomain.com.

301 Re-Direct Management Control Panel
So you've probably heard how important (especially when migrating a website to a new platform) how important it is to properly use 301 redirects to permanently redirect your old links to their new locations. A lot of companies use Javascript to redirect everything to the homepage. Search engines don't like this and you will inevitably lose all your "link juice" (inbound links from other websites. Again, a HUGE improvement, but not that sexy...I like it!

In-Context Editing (Beta)
Ok, I saved the best for last and this one actually has some sex appeal. In-Context Editing is (if you've ever used it) about the easiest, most intuitive way to edit you web content. The new interface allows you to edit as you navigate through the website. This feature has lowered our on-boarding time on website edits from about 20-30 minutes to less than 5 minutes. I still prefer the "feel" of an admin panel, but our clients (mostly the ones on the lower end of the tech scale), love it. Great job on this one Adobe and BC. Try a Demo of In-Context Editing and let me know what you think.

Is Social Media A Fad, Like Home Computers Would Never last

Kim Kolb - Thursday, May 13, 2010
I hear people making this comment often "This Social Media Stuff isn't going to last". Really? Sounds like a similar comment that people made back in the 80's about Personal Computers not making it. So, knowing what we know about computers these days, that everyone has one or maybe two in everyone home, I would rethink that comment about Social Media and start the acceptance process.

Social Media is not a fad, in fact it grows every day.  Watch this video and leave a comment on what you think about Social Media.  As someone who is doing Inbound Marketing through Social Media daily, you should be rethinking your online marketing strategy. If you are not in tune with what is being said then you are out of the conversation, it is like being stranded on an island by YOURSELF!

Please leave a comment (hint: it provides an Inbound link to your site)

If you like what you read, please subscribe to our blog as we put out Tips, Tricks, and all around good ideas for you to use in your business.  Make sure you turn up the volume on this video.. The Music alone is inspiring.

Why Doesn't Blogging Come Natural To Us

Kim Kolb - Monday, February 01, 2010
How many of you reading this blog post actually write your own blog?  How many of you only comment on other blogs?  How many of you are really Awesome and both write your own blog and comment on other blogs?

Why do I ask all these questions?  Because I think for most people, blogging is not a natural thing.  Yes, we can compose an email and write a few paragraphs to our colleagues, but to sit and write about something that we then share with the world is quite an overwhelming experience.

When I started Blogging, I was committed to 3 times a week. Why?  Because that is what the experts told me. The avid Bloggers.  The guys who make money blogging.  I can do this I thought.  I started off well.  I blogged twice in one week.  I missed that third one.  The next week I did two.  Then after that, I just did one a week.  This went on for awhile and then I just stopped.

When I reflect back on my short blogging experience I wondered why I didn't blog more?  I definitely read tons of blogs.  I got to thinking about how someone could come up with the content for a blog.  How do you figure out every day what to write?  Sometimes bloggers do a couple of blogs a day.  How are they so inspired.  I was overwhelmed and didn't feel that I had anything to contribute.  My blogs consisted of content from other blogs that I felt I could do a better job at writing.  I figured the experts were already writing the good stuff.  Seriously, how many "10 ways" of anything can you have of one subject?

After about a month of no blogging, I decided to check our google analytics... Man, that was a depressing image.  Our stats went from about 200 + visits a day to 0.  Yep, that's right, a big goose egg.  

So what do you do when you have hit the bottom?  The only thing you can do and that is pick yourself up, brush off the cobwebs and start again.

I can successfully report that I have blogged for three days (Friday, Sunday, and Monday).  Hey it's a start. This time I have made it a priority.

How do I find content and the time for my blog?  I have decided that my thoughts may not be as profound as others, but that someone out there feels or felt like I did or do.  I think what I have to say can help someone either by inspiring them or making them feel like they are not alone.  Now the time part, I get up every morning and do the same thing.  Feed my cats, grab a cup of coffee and head to my computer for Emails, Facebook, and sign onto HootSuite.  I have added blogging to my morning ritual.  So far so good!

Although blogging hasn't felt real natural to me, what does feel natural is my writing style.  Everyone has one.  My style of writing is as if I am talking to my best friend.  I write like I speak.  Why is this important? Authenticity is one of the most important factors when blogging.  If you aren't sincere, the reader will pick up on that and probably won't be back.

I like to be funny in my writing.  Sometimes, and I shouldn't say this, but I make myself laugh!  I have found a few authors of some great books who write like they speak.  It makes for an engaging read.  Believe me, I have to really be engaged. My attention span is shorter than one of those curly shoestring laces.

I hope this has helped someone.  I would really like to know the answer to the very first questions.  Think of it as a poll.

How many of you write your own blog?  
How many of you only comment on other blogs?  
How many of you are really Awesome and both write your own blog and comment on other blogs?

Social Media Monitoring Tools

Kim Kolb - Sunday, January 31, 2010

In my effort to help those new at Social Media or who are still trying to get their footing, I am posting just some tips on a couple of tools that I think Rock!

Ever wonder what to use to track ALL the Social Media channels out there?  When I first started with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Blogging, I really was overwhelmed by having to log into each of them as I needed to post something.  It was very time consuming to log in to each system, copy & paste, each post. Sometimes you had to shorten or lengthen the post because there are different character limits for all the channels.

When Facebook came out with the ability to link to LinkedIn and Twitter by putting in a hashtag, I was way excited!  I used that for a short while and then I found HootSuite.  Hootsuite allows you to track Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your WordPress, in one location.  You can also add to the mix any clients you are also monitoring.  You could literally be tracking a 100+ Social Media channels.  There is even a little owl that will pop up if you have been inactive for awhile that says "Wake Up".

The next tool I like to use is Klout.  It is not a monitoring tool like HootSuite, but rather a tracking tool.  It gives you an idea of your Reach, Demand, Engagement, Velocity and Activity for Twitter.  I use this to guage how active I have been on Twitter.  You can tell when you have contributed because every 48 hours you can update your score.  Klout also shows what people you may be influenced by and who may be influenced by you.  Really cool when you see that others may be influenced by you.

Best part about these tools, they are FREE!

I am sure there are a ton of tools that people use.  It is all about feeling comfortable with them.  If you have an awesome tool that you would like to share, I would love to know about it.  I am always looking for ways to simplify things.

Blogging Really Affects Your Site Traffic

Kim Kolb - Friday, January 29, 2010
What I am about to share with you is a personal account of my blogging experience.  Since I am blogging about this, I have to think that there are others out there that feel the same way.  By blogging about this experience I hope to bring a little entertainment, but most of all, the importance blogging is to your search results and the traffic to your site.  I plan to blog about things I have learned over the last six months of my short Social Media life.

Let's get started.  I started with Social Media back in July 09.  I was so excited to attend the FREE IMU classes, offered by Hubspot, to help me learn all there is to know about Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Blogging, and SEO.  We had a variety of speakers, all Thought Leaders in their field.  Social Media had been around awhile but there were over 5000 students in that first IMU class, so I would say there were alot of people getting on board.

So, I started Tweeting, Blogging, posting to Facebook, and LinkedIn.  I quickly realized that I was 
overwhelmed.  How can these thought leaders be all over the place?  Don't they get tired of doing all this posting?  

One thing I did realize is that people were coming to the site, they were subscribing to my blog, following me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, it was some happy times.  I felt good.

Then...I stopped blogging.  I still Tweeted and Facebooked religiously.  My stats started to drop. Visitors to my site are almost none.  It was at that point.. Yesterday, Jan 28th, that I decided that along with my morning Twitter, Facebook, cup of coffee reading, I would add Blogging back to my mix.

What is the point of this story... Blogging is very CRUCIAL to your website traffic.  Above all else, BLOG. This is what puts fresh content on your site.  This is what gets people engaged with you.

If you dropped the ball on blogging like I have, pick it up and get rolling again.

Tell me about your experiences with Blogging, I would love to hear about your ups and downs.

Next up...How did I make my life easier with Social Media

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