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?

International Builder Show Jan 2011

Kim Kolb - Sunday, January 16, 2011

I have just returned from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL where the International Builder Show (IBS) was held. 

This was the first time I have been to the International Builder Show. What a massive production. The show was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. They had a beautiful sign out front with nice glittery lights.. Kinda made me think I was in Vegas. The Displays spanned the entire length of the West Building. I have been to a PartyLite Convention before and I thought it was a big production.

There were tons of seminars for Builders as well as networking opportunities.

I was attending this event because I was asked to be a speaker at the Convention. I was part of a panel that talked about the REDMAR process. I was asked to speak on this process and how Inbound Marketing relates to getting visitors to your site. I love it when I am asked to talk about Inbound Marketing. It really makes me feel like my job means something when I get a client who looks to me for advise on how to start or improve their on line marketing efforts.

Although my trip was only one day long. I do plan to go back to Orlando because there was tons of fun I did not have!

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.

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

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.

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!

10 Things to Bring Back "That Lovin Feelin" to Blogging Again

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Blogging... can be an unwanted task, although we have been conditioned to blog, it can seem a bit overwhelming and tiresome at times.  After all, in order to make an impact in the blogging world, you have to blog at least once a day if not more.

In my last post, I was concerned about restating what was already said.  Not have anything new or valuable to offer to the readers.  How does one get "That Lovin Feelin" back into their blog?

10 things to get that lovin feelin back:

  • Take a new approach to writing - tell a story, be a commentator
  • Be humorous, if you laugh most likely others will too
  • Tell the story like you are talking to a friend
  • Write about things that you would like to know
  • Get someone to post on your blog as a guest
  • Do an interview with someone who has no idea about the topic (kinda like Leno's "Jay Walking" segment)
  • Take a poll and write a blog on the results
  • Take the first 5 blogs you read and make snippets and comment about them on your blog.
  • Make your blog about others that are doing well or that you feel are up and coming.  Nothing like giving kudos to someone who isn't expecting it.
  • BE YOURSELF!  FIND YOUR VOICE! AMPLIFY IT!

This is my new approach this year.  I hope to entertain, educate and have fun blogging.  If I do, then I  am sure I will be blogging for a long while to come.

I would love to hear how you keep the "Lovin Feelin" in your blogs.

A6PBB3U7U3MC

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?

Facebook has become the Social Connection to 300 million

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Facebook has become a huge part of social media these days.  This tool that was designed back in 2004 for college students has grown to 300 million users.  Mark Zuckerman who at the time of inception was a college student who wanted a way for college students to be able to communicate with each other.

It is reported by The Daily Mustang, that each day, people around the world spend more than six billion minutes on Facebook, where they post 40 million status updates and become fans of 10 million pages.

When Facebook started out, it took almost 5 years to grow to 150 million users.  In nine months, Facebook has grown from 150 million users to 300 million. 

Growth of Facebook is being attributed to the 35 and older crowd.  The fastest pace of growth comes from older Americans according to iStrategy Labs.  People 55 and older grew by 513 percent since July of 2009, and now that group makes up 8 percent of all active Facebook users. 

A lot of 55 and older people enjoy Facebook because of the distance between family members.  They can see their grand kids growing up right there on their screen instead of waiting to have the family visit.  Speaking as a Facebook user in the 35 + group, I have tried to get my Dad and Mother-in-law to get an account and they both seem uninterested.  I have express the fact that they can see pictures and only let the family be their friends.  But to no avail they have not yet become Facebook members.  Maybe I can make them a profile and show them how easy it is to use. 

According to some polling of SMU students, they are a little disturbed at the older crowd using Facebook.  In fact Since Jan 2009, student only make up 25% of the Facebook active members.  Users aged 18 – 24 have fallen from 41% to 25%.  This is still an increase of 1 million users in 6 months among that age group.

Facebook, I believe is becoming more than a social networking outlet.  Yes, most people use it to keep up with their friends and family, but Facebook also provides a business aspect that can be used to capture leads by "word of mouth" so to speak.  This could be the reason for the increased number of 35+ people.  They are using Facebook Fan Pages to get people to notice their brand and to become known.

Kudos to the 35+ people who have transformed what was once only for geeks and college kids to something useful in every day life and business.

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