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How grown up is your online marketing?

25th March 2014
Categories: marketing, measurement, seo

Some of the Oxford Web team had a great session with Ned Wells from Cicada Online today, looking at the "maturity" of various facets of our online marketing.  For example, with the measurement of the online marketing that you do - is it in a "baby" phase - all trial and error - or have you put a lot of thought behind it and aligned it with your business objectives?  Energising stuff!  Do get in touch with us or Cicada if you want to investigate these topics for your business.

Can a social media presence replace your website?

17th March 2014

I recently attended a business meeting with a wide mix of businesses represented, and a presentation on social media. In the presenter's opinion, social media had made websites outdated.

If social media supplies a need for your business, that's great; we're making use of social media too, and many of our customers do, in different ways. But what it doesn't do is obviate the need for other forms of e-marketing and e-provision (not all websites exist for marketing!).

Take a business that doesn't sell anything online, doesn't have a great deal of information to get across, and doesn't have any online provision for such functions as customer/member service. Do they still need a website?

Assuming they sell something that people look for on the internet, then yes, I would suggest a website even if they have a social media presence on various platforms, simply to provide a base for describing what they sell, and pointing to the various social media sites.

The one constant in social media (if we are talking about facebook, twitter, pinterest.. - menshn closed last year, by the way) is that. as a user, you are faced with a rolling list of new topics, latest at the top.  

So as a business, if you have to constantly re-state your USPs in order to keep them in people's minds, you're using the wrong medium!

Why customers are fantastic

10th March 2014
Categories: customers

We never stop learning about customer support here at Oxford Web, and we thought it was high time we shared some of the "positives" we get from serving a huge variety of different customers.  So here's our countdown of the 5 best things about customers!

5. Customers remind you to speak in plain English

It's OK having a language for geeks - it's a shortcut for getting ideas across, and if we spoke in layman's terms within the team all day long we'd, waste many hours of work. But the average website customer doesn't want to know that a database query was using too many joins, or that IE7 had trouble with CSS3. Keep it simple!

4. Customers help make the product perfect

When designing and building a website, we aim to see what the customer sees, but they'll have unique insights into the market and the type of visitors who will land on the site. We don't dictate how things should look - we certainly challenge and advise, but ultimately we believe the partnership between Oxford Web and our customer provides the most fruitful environment to build a website.

3. Customers recommend other customers

If you're providing some of the "magic" that makes your customers' businesses tick, they'll be happy to recommend others.  We receive many referrals from existing customers every year, and we like to think it's because we add value to their businesses and they're impressed with our reliability and expertise. Sometimes we miss out, and in some cases it may be because we don't remind people often enough about the services we provide. Don't stay silent!  We aim to send an e-newsletter once a month in 2014.

2. Customers have fantastic ideas

Working within a team in a tech environment exposes us to many ideas and influences, but if we can also be influenced from outside the team, so much the better.  We weren't the first to put a twitter link on our website, or video, or to push all the boundaries of function and form.  We get a lot of inspiration from customers.  

1. Customers earn us our bread and butter

Yes, it's so obvious, it almost shouldn't be on the list - but if you have customers yourself, don't forget that you need to make a profit from them. They appreciate the value you're adding to their business, and if you're doing a good job, they should be happy to pay your bills and ultimately help you prosper.  If they're doing this, you're doing it right!

Google data highlighter

5th March 2014
Categories: content, google, seo

If your website is full of useful information, there's a new way of getting that information to your customers before they've clicked the link to your site in Google's search results - called "Google data highlighter".

Using the highlighter tool, you can tell Google more about the data on your website, so that it can present it in a so-called "rich snippet" in search results.

To start with, you specify a starting page for a data set - say, for example, your news page.  Then using Google's preview of your page, you highlight elements such as the title, date, author, and categories, and Google tries to find other pages set out in the same way.  Once you're done, Google will start using this data on the next crawl - so be prepared to wait a few days before seeing the new search results.

We've gone through this process with the Oxford Web blog - what do you think of the results?

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