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?

Creating Great Landing Pages

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, January 26, 2011
1) Remove Navigation and Other Distractions

Your landing page should have one simple purpose: Get someone excited enough about your offer so that they're willing to hand over their information. For best results, you'll want to remove distractions like navigation and additional offers. Keep your visitor's focus on the offer at hand.

Getting Started

2) Use Your Headline to Explain the Value of Your Offer - What's in it for Me?

People's attention spans are short, especially online. Because of this, you'll want to make sure that your offer is as clear as possible. The best way to achieve this is to have a clear title. Specifically, you'll want to make sure your title contains:
  • A clear action (e.g. "Get Started Today")
  • A clear description of your offer (e.g. "Complete form to discuss project")
  • An explanation of the value of your offer (e.g. "Custom Websites")
I've seen many landing pages that miss one of these three key details.

3) Use Caption Text Under Your Image(s)

You should always include at least one image on your landing pages. Images are engaging, they make your offers more tangible, and people like them.

That said, one of the most commonly overlooked elements on landing pages is image caption text. Behaviorally, people are much more likely to read the caption text on an image then to read the body text of your landing page.

Use your caption text to help underline the value of your offer.

4) Use Thank You Pages & Suggest Next Steps

When someone has finished filling out your landing page, what do they see? You should think carefully about this question.

Your "thank you" page is a great opportunity to suggest your lead's next action and should help them further connect with your company or brand. "Subscribe to our newsletter," "Read our blog," "Connect with us on Twitter," or "Share this offer with a friend are all are excellent examples of things you can suggest on a thank you page.

5) Make Your “Submit” Button Engaging

No one get’s excited about submitting their information to a marketing database. Because of this, you should always change the default text of your "submit" button.

The best practice here is to use an action word and to remind your visitors about what they're going to get. Think about which button you'd rather click below:

Bonus Tip: Avoid “Contact Us,” - Create Stronger Offers

A “Contact Us” page does not count as a landing page. If this is the only "offer" on your site, you’re just going to attract spam and sales people. Diversify and create more offers.

Specifically, create one early-stage and one late-stage offer. For example, an early-stage offer could be a guide, a kit, or a white paper. A late stage offer can be a free consultation, an estimate / price quote or a free trial.

Do you have a great Landing Page you want to share?  Send us a link.

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!

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


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.

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.

Who Are You and What Do You Do

Kim Kolb - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How many times has someone asked you this question, "Who are you and What do you do?" And how many of us can nail the answer each time without causing a blank stare from the person who asked the question?  This should be easy to answer, right?  It is the elevator pitch that every good Speaker tells us we should have. 

Being a Web Design & Inbound Marketing Firm, we tell our clients that "Content" is King.  Even all the expert Bloggers and Social Media Consultants will tell you this.  It is a true and valid fact.  The problem is, is that it is really easy to tell someone that content is King and that you should have no problem coming up with "Who You Are and What You Do, after all it is YOUR story, right?  WRONG!

We recently redesigned our website and going back over all the content we had to "Freshen" up, was a big process.  Oh, I can tell you exactly what we do and who we are, if you are standing in front of me so I can speak to you.  Writing it is a different animal all together.  When we get a new client and tell them that they need to go through their content and get rid of stuff that doesn't matter or outdated and replace it with new, fresh content, it is one of those items that gets put off until the very end.  Or worse... A client has no website and then has to come up with ALL the content for the site.

I have a new appreciation for this process.  It is always easier to tell someone how to do it, but when it comes to actually doing it, that is the problem.  Here are some tips I tell my clients to help in the process:

  • Start with the pages you have or think you want, the Contact Us is a good place to start.  Why?  Because you know the answer!  It is an easy score.  
  • Move onto the About Us page.  Most people can talk about themselves.  Just tell us everything there is to know about you. Then go back and weed out the wordiness and stuff that really isn't important, like the time you were in the Boy Scout's and you actually got the fire started with 2 sticks.
  • If you have a portfolio of projects, this is usually easy, especially if you are showing a picture or even adding a little text about what the project was.
  • If you offer services, this can be a hard or easy page.  Start with what you know and are confident about.  Then fill in the rest
  • The Home Page should be last unless you just have that one down.  The Home Page brings all of what you do and who you are together.  It is the page that needs to be the most captivating and inviting.  You want people to get to this page and say "Wow", I want to know more.  This will probably be the hardest page to complete.
My advice for any page you start, is just puke it out onto the screen and then re-read, fix, and repeat.  Have someone else read it to see if it makes sense. Sometimes we know what we are saying because we actually do the work, but get someone who doesn't and you will have a different perspective.

Hopefully this helps.  I would love to hear other people with their best ways to write content.  Like the saying goes "A Gardner's garden is never green, but the rest of the neighborhood is beautiful."

Hi, I'm with Kirby Vacuum, Don't shoot

Kim Kolb - Thursday, April 15, 2010

OH My Gosh! I didn't even realize companies still used Door to Door Soliciting, I mean Sales, oops I mean Marketing.  I think this out does the Billboard ads.  

I was working in my home office today and I got a knock on the door.  Hmm, I thought.. Not expecting anyone.  I opened the door, I am not kidding on this next part, the young kid, maybe early 20's says to me as I am opening the door, "Hi, I'm with Kirby Vacuum, Don't Shoot"!  Since I am not real quick with my responses... I took a second and said, I have had a Kirby before and I don't need another since I have all hardwood!  The Rep did not seem to take this as harsh as I probably made it sound. He just said, "Okay, thanks".  Off to the next house he went.

What is Kirby's goal in going door to door?

  • Personal interaction
  • Face to face
  • Set up Demonstration
  • Closing a deal

With Outbound Marketing, you are being interrupted when you didn't ask to be.  Somebody is interrupting what you do to tell you what they do.  Telemarketer's, TV ads, all are Outbound Marketing. 

How does Kirby track their Outbound Marketing?  Just like we track Yellow Page ads, TV ads, etc. There is no way to track them unless there is a physical action that takes place.  You actually have a demo scheduled, you clip the coupon and use it, you tell the person where you found them.

  • If last year's "Outbound Marketer" could have tracked what he did when he came to my house, he would have been able to tell this year's "Outbound Marketer" that I don't have carpet.  
  • What is the cost-benefit to having people pound the pavement?

I do have to say that the salesperson had a wonderful attitude.  

I would love to hear feedback on this and your thoughts about door to door sales.

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