Flash vs HTML5

It was inevitable that we’d eventually do a post on the ongoing debate between Flash and HTML5 and which one was better.  We’d put it off for awhile because we’d been split down the middle about which was better. Invariably though, we feel that both still have a place in the world of online marketing and the key to deciding on when to use either of them should stem from the goals that you want to achieve.

With that said, we’ve made a short list of the best places to use Flash and the best places to use HTML5. HTML5 was the clear winner over Flash due to its accessibility/compatibility on numerous devices and the numerous animation techniques that HTML5 can now achieve, but we feel that Flash still has a place online and in the marketing mix.

GOAL: Increase website SEO capabilities
Verdict: HTML5

It’s a sad fact many businesses come to realize AFTER they’ve built their landing pages, but while it’s pretty to look at and shows off all the neat tricks and skills your designers are capable of, the content in a Flash document is not able to be indexed by search engines.

GOAL: Increase content sharing
Verdict: Split

Content is king and when it comes sharing your content HTML5 is the winner especially now that YouTube can host videos made in HTML5. With Flash, you need to convert the file in order to host it.  We split the verdict on this one because the popularity of making videos in Flash currently outweighs those made in HTML5.  Though if people continue to make cool videos like Arcade Fire did we expect the tide to turn a bit.

GOAL: Increase page views
Verdict: HTML5

Again, search engines can’t index Flash content.

GOAL: Increase call to action
Verdict: Split

Either one of the technologies should be as effective as the other provided that your messaging is strong enough.

GOAL: Increase user accessibility
Verdict: Split

Either platform, Flash or HTML5, if done right, can yield really amazing user experiences. The one downside to using Flash though, is people have to download a Flash player and Apple iPhones iPads.  So if you’re target audience is on one of these devices, go with an HTML5 solution.

GOAL: Increase user experience
Verdict: Split

HTML5 can now create many of the wonderful animations that can be developed in Flash and the library of scripts and plug-ins for HTML5 is growing everyday. We split this verdict because while HTML5 is not quite on par with the graphic capabilities of Flash yet, it’s

Whatever your goals are, it’s important that you have the right tools to accomplish them.
For assistance in developing your online marketing materials contact Chiaroscuro Concepts at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

Posted in Communication, Design, Email Marketing, Facebook, Flash, HTML5, Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Web Design, Web Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do your customers like to communicate with you?

Cold calling.  The two most dreaded words any consumer (and sales rep) fears.  An outdated sales tactic that still takes place even today, it’s a customer’s least favorite means of being contacted by new companies seeking their business and your sales team’s least effective means of generating new business.  For them, not only is it like trying to shoot a bulls eye while blindfolded stood in the middle of quicksand, they often have to endure angry outbursts from the people they call.  (I once had a friend who pretended that he didn’t know how to speak English in an effort to avoid these types of calls). In fact, it got to be so obnoxious that the federal government devised a do-not-call list in order to protect consumers from this type of marketing.

But communication with your customer base remains as one of the most important things your company does. The key to this is finding out how your customers would prefer to communicate with you.

With the multiple forms of communication tools available to you, you should know not only how your customers like to communicate with you but the types of messages you should be putting forth on each communication platform.  Some sales promotions would be better targeted to your social media following while others are better suited for email.

Some people might prefer email while others prefer to get their information from you via your Facebook page or your Twitter account.  And occasionally, some people still prefer to engage on a one-to-one level with a good old-fashioned phone call. At every channel though, you should know what method of communication your customers prefer and always provide opportunities for them to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of your marketing efforts and then respect the choice of the customer by regularly scrubbing your data.

And don’t forget your website. For many companies nowadays this portion of your marketing program is your storefront.  You should always make sure that your website is up-to-date, accessible and well-designed to guarantee the best user experience.

For assistance in developing your communications strategies contact Chiaroscuro Concepts at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

Posted in Communication, Customer Service, Email Marketing, Marketing, Online Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recession Now: Revenue Later – Optimizing your business for future sales during an economic downturn.

If you’ve been noticing a decline in sales lately, you can surely pin the blame on the economy and the recession and wait for things to get better.  Analysts aren’t expecting a double-dip recession but have not been able to pin-point a time in the future as to when things will begin to pick back up.

While we’re all feeling the pains of the diminished economy lately, you don’t have to let your sales suffer as a result of it.  Right now a lot of customers are in the initial stages of the buying process, where they gather and research information about potential products and services that they want to purchase.  Don’t miss out on opportunities now to gain new business in the future with inadequate materials now.

There are several key factors you should be focusing on now in order to attract customers for when things do pick back up (and we believe they will!).

1. Website Content and Appearance

  • Is your website prepared to service your customers with the information they need now?  If you’re holding out on a redesign of your website until things start to look up in the economy again, you might want to rethink this approach.  Many businesses and consumers are preparing their budgets for next calendar year and doing the research on products and services now.  If you’re not presenting your company and your brand in the best possible light at all times, you might get written of by a potential customer who’s not ready to buy now, but won’t consider you in the future because you didn’t put your best foot forward.

2. Website Interface

  • Can customers easily navigate your website and get to the information they need in three clicks or less or is your content so jumbled that they have to call your customer support number just to make sense of it? Can they add items to their shopping cart with little to no difficulty? If not, not only have you left a negative impression on your potential customer but you’ve taken money out of your own pocket by relying on your customer service team to get this information to them.

3. Lead Capture and Management

  • Is your website ready to take and capture new leads?  Requests for information?  Set up and maintain user accounts?  Do you have a system in place to hand these leads off to your sales team?  Again, many customers are in the initial research phases right now and while these leads might not be “warm” yet, with the proper amount of attention and follow-up you can believe that your prospects will remember your company when it comes time to make a purchase.

4. Supporting Materials

  • Are you ready to go with a brochure if a customer asks for it? Can you mail it to them or email it to them? If not, you’ve just missed a golden opportunity to begin a relationship with a new potential customer! Businesses now rely heavily on the web to get information to their customers but often neglect ancillary supporting materials. Our motto is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

There are seven stages in the sales process and most businesses and customers are at the very beginning of it now.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to build your business for future growth with inadequate and sub-par materials now—potential customers will remember that about you now and not consider you in the future when they are ready to finally make that purchase.

For assistance in developing your marketing materials and campaigns contact Chiaroscuro Concepts at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

Posted in Design, Email Marketing, Facebook, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven Facebook Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Marketing Efforts

Adding a business Facebook page is a great addition to any marketing campaign. More and more brands are seeing the value of interacting directly with their customer base by making this addition to their marketing mix.  But some companies abandon their efforts to develop a loyal following on Facebook too early before really getting a strong understanding of how to make Facebook work for them.

Below are a few tips and pointers on how to start your own Facebook marketing campaign off on the right foot.

  1. Claim your Facebook URL: claim a permanent Facebook URL under your company name by registering it at: http://www.facebook.com/username  NOTE: You CANNOT change this once you register it so choose carefully
  2. Understand that customer interaction on Facebook is a two-way street. You want to encourage posts to your page and sharing among your users so make sure that they know a live body is on the other end of the page
  3. Don’t incentivize your followers—Facebook actively discourage this and could lock your account if you continually violate this rule.  Instead, offer them rewards, such as access to exclusive content in the form of videos and photos
  4. Understand that Facebook is not the place to put your entire product inventory—that’s what your website is for.  You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors with a huge amount of material.  Instead, be selective and publish only the items you think best match your fan base.
  5. Alternately, don’t underwhelm them with a lack of content either.  If nothing is going on with your page for a while, people will lose interest and stop checking in.  A good rule of thumb to post on Facebook is a few times a week.
  6. Don’t restrict your visitors from commenting or sharing your content. Yes, you might run the risk of a some negative feedback, but view customer issues brought to your attention on Facebook as another means to service your customers and show them that you really do listen to their problems.
  7. And perhaps the most important rule of all when trying to actively engage users on your page, ask yourself this—would YOU want to receive this content?  If the answer is no, you might need to alter your communications strategy and spice it up with more interesting content and graphics.

With a little creativity, some hard work and by following some basic rules of thumb, you can get your Facebook campaign off and running with a loyal fan base that wants to actively engage with you and share your content with their own Facebook friends.  The possibilities are limitless when it comes to how much your fans can help promote your brand and their loyalty is priceless!

Contact Chiaroscuro Concepts to see about customizing a Facebook marketing campaign at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

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“Trucking Through the Holidays” Charity Food Truck Festival

This is a wonderful event that Chiaroscuro Concepts is helping to co-sponsor along with Jaxon Home and the Haute Lunch Bag.  Proceeds go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to benefit fellow Angelenos this holiday season in need of a helping hand.

“Trucking Through the Holidays” Charity Food Truck Festival.

Trucking Through The Holidays

Thursday, November 18 · 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Location Jaxon Home Back Parking lot

8884 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Not only will we have some of Los Angeles’ hottest Food trucks parked out back, we will also have some amazing restaurants, cafes, and chefs set up inside to impress your taste buds.

There will also be a COMPLIMENTARY wine and cocktail tasting available inside.

With the current state of the economy, the Los Angeles
Regional Foodbank is experiencing record requests, and lower than average donations. Our goal is to bring awareness to the community and help nourish the near 1 million Angeleno’s facing hunger in our community.

For every $1 raised the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank distributes $5 of food in our community.

To get involved, or for more information please visit; http://truckingthroughtheholidays.wordpress.com/

Bring your friends and your appetites!

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Campaigns with a Philanthropic Element Tend to Lead to Greater Conversions

It’s no surprise that companies like Yoplait and Dove rally around cause driven marketing (Yoplait’s Pink Lid Breast Cancer Cure drive and Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty)—cause driven marketing is one of the most successful and engaging items that companies can include in their marketing mix for several reasons.
Even though at the core these campaigns are marketing tactics, we say, so what?  Campaigns such as these raise money to find cures for deadly diseases and shed light on otherwise overlooked issues.  What’s wrong with that? Consumers must feel the same way about corporate sponsors supporting the causes that affect them because they tend to purchase more of the products that the corporations make. This type of marketing builds an invaluable level of trust between the brand and the consumer, something that perhaps millions of dollars in advertising would never have been able to accomplish.

Additionally, philanthropic sponsorship provides companies a way to reach out to media outlets without hitting them in the face with a blaring new product announcement or sales pitch.  By aligning with a philanthropic cause, companies give themselves the opportunity to brand and position themselves in front of their potential customer base without the fear of them hitting the mute button on their television or skipping through their commercial on the DVR.

Though cause marketing can sometimes cost as much as a national ad campaign would, it still makes sense to engage your company in some form of cause marketing—whether that’s supporting a local softball team, helping to conduct a food drive at your local food bank, spending a day with seniors at a retirement community or teaming up your local school district to initiate a much needed after-school program, you can use your resources to not only promote your company and its  brand, but to make difference.

For more information or help creating your own cause driven marketing campaign, contact Chiaroscuro Concepts at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

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Your Competition and Social Media: How to Harness the Power of Social Media while Protecting your Assets

Social media is a great way to get the word out to your customer base about what your company is doing—you can update your friends and followers with all the information they need about your upcoming events, promotions and special offers with the click of a button.

Unfortunately, if they’re any good at what they do, your competitors will also be keeping tabs on your online activities, evaluating your users’ feedback and looking for ways to outbid, outsell and out-service you at all times. And to be honest, you should be doing the same thing with them, otherwise you are doing yourself a great disservice.

So how do you find the balance between protecting your own trade secrets while still harnessing the power of social media to your marketing mix?

1. Blocking
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow you to control who sees what content on your accounts.  These platforms also allow you the ability to “accept” or “deny” each friend request that comes your way.  You can easily look at the account information and determine whether or not the person requesting access to your information is working for your competition by the information on their account.  It’s up to you to decide at this point whether or not to allow them access to your information or not.  Keep in mind, that if you don’t allow them access to your information, they could try an underhanded approach by requesting your friendship and access to your feeds under a pseudonym.  At that point, if you allow them to access your information while under a pseudonym, you will be blind to their activities within your page and their own, whereas if you had allowed them access, you’d be able to see what they were doing.  Try accepting their friendship while closely monitoring their activity on your account and on their own.  If they out and out blatantly start copying your information, feel free to block them entirely from your accounts.

2. Opt-In Lists
Social media is great, but nothing beats the old-fashioned email when it comes to interacting one-on-one with customers. Email also gives you a little more control over who sees your messages due to the mailing list that is required in order to send email communications.  You can scrub your email list at anytime to make sure that competitors with yourcompetitorsname.com extensions on their email addresses don’t get access to your super-secret and loyal following only promotions and specials.  This also opens the door for another level of deepening your relationship with your social media following.  By offering consumers the lure of even better offerings if they engage and interact with you on a more personal level, you’re one step closer to strengthening the relationship with that customer as well as gaining valuable insight about what your customer base wants.

The bottom line about competition and social media is this: if you don’t want people knowing about it, then you really shouldn’t be posting it on the internet.  Competitors are always looking for ways to outsell you but by taking advantage of the account settings on your social media tools and enacting a fully engaged and cognizant marketing campaign, not only will you outsell your competitors, you’ll outperform them too.

As Picasso said about art: “Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal” so the same is true with marketing.  Protect yourself and your investments by using Chiaroscuro Concepts.

For more information and a free quote email us at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

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The Effects of Google Instant

Google Instant: SEO More Important than Ever

Google recently introduced its newest product: Google Instant.  If you haven’t been exposed to it yet, go to google.com and type in a letter (any letter of the alphabet) in the Google search bar and Google will automatically suggest search results for you.

This is a pretty nifty trick that not only teaches users to become more savvy with their search terms and saves users time with their queries (Google Instant saves users an average of 2 – 5 seconds per search—it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it does add up) but what about the businesses relying on their SEO strategy to manage their search rankings?  What about your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising?  How does Google Instant affect these aspects of your overall marketing plan?

We are still in the early stages of Google Instant and marketing companies are still testing results and what changes have been made but the general consensus is that the changes that will most greatly affect your current SEO strategy are two fold: the short-tail search term will begin to dominate Google searches and the cost of Pay Per Click terms will go up.

Short Tail vs. Long Tail and PPC:

Enter a search term into Google, say “refrigeration repair”.  Google will round out your query for you and return results. This is called a “short tail” search term.  If you typed in something more specific, say “Al’s Refrigeration Repair Austin, TX” (“long tail” search terms) your search results would be narrowed down to include all of those key words and would probably direct you directly to Al’s website.

But unless customers know that Al has a Refrigeration repair shop in Austin, TX, Al’s company probably won’t be one of the top results Google returns on Google Instant.  So how does Al increase is search rankings to stay ahead of competition if Google Instant is going to be encouraging the short tail search query model?

Al will firstly need to optimize his existing website for SEO and SEM by taking advantage of proven SEO tactics so Google’s search engine crawlers can grab hold of as much meta data as possible on Al’s site.  Al will then have to reevaluate the key words he pays for with Google keywords.  Usually a good scrub of your keywords was recommended annually, but some experts are now recommending once a quarter due to the recent changes. Because Google Instant encourages users to rely on the results they return, SEO experts anticipate that users will begin to stop looking for results further than the top three results returned by Google Instant.

This also affects PPC in that users now will not be looking down the first page as far as they once did.  The top three results in Google Adwords has just become a more coveted piece of real estate than ever, meaning that the bidding war for ad words will most certainly go up.

Al will need to engage in a few things in order to make sure new customers can still locate him on the web: enhanced current SEO practices and refining and polishing his existing Adwords.

We still don’t know the full impact of Google Instant, but by taking the right steps now, you and Al can ensure that the valuable web real estate he spent years cultivating won’t be lost due to changing practices.

Visit us online at www.chiaroscuroconcepts.com to see about customizing a solution that’s right for you.

Posted in Marketing, Online Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rich Media Encourages Consumer Adoption Rates and Increased Content Sharing

Rich Media Encourages Consumer Adoption Rates and Increased Content Sharing

The number of companies adding video content to their websites and marketing campaigns has been dramatically on the rise in the past year.  The mix between online video advertising content, non-advertising content, product demonstrations and testimonials has soared in recent years.

A survey of Fortune 500 companies found that having video as part of their marketing mix has gone from being an ancillary portion of their campaigns in years past to being an unavoidable necessity due to consumer demand.  Any modern digital strategist will tell marketers the same thing—video offers the best of both worlds, the control and metrics of direct mail and the visual appeal of television and YouTube.  Including video in your campaigns is more or less a win-win scenario, both for you and your customers.

Given all of the recent stats regarding video marketing, it’s hardly a wonder that marketers are eager to participate with campaigns of their own. Here’s a sampling of what some of the top research firms discovered

  • 139 million US internet users watch an average of 85 videos online each month
  • 94% of agency executives plan to spend more on online video in 2010 than the prior year
  • Social media use makes people consume more content and email, not less

Online and email videos are valuable in driving traffic to your website and landing pages, promoting you brand to a larger audience and increasing and deepening user engagement and interactivity.  We can’t all be the next “Will it Blend” but this simple and effective campaign made BlendTec a household name and garnered millions of dollars of free publicity and social media sharing.

For help with your email marketing campaigns, contact us at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com

Be sure to visit our site at www.chiaroscuroconcepts.com to see our full list of services.

(stats provided by comScore, eMarketer and Nielson Media)

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Social Media – Make it Stick vs. Throwing it at the Wall

It’s easy to open a Twitter account or a Facebook page.  It’s fast, it’s free and these days, you’re nobody unless you’re somebody on the two most popular social networking sites in the world.

As part of your marketing mix, it makes great sense to take advantage of these free tools to further your brand’s reach and your marketing message.  But before you jump on board with social media, make sure you have a solid plan in place.

It’s easy to begin using social media without considering that managing social media can be a full-time responsibility and initiating a social media campaign requires the savvy and know how to get your message across. From implementing strategy and positioning, updating and managing content, managing user requests and comments to addressing customer service issues and measuring analytics, a social media campaign should be run like any other marketing campaign.  Without considering your strategy in advance of launching, your social media content will stagnate and your traffic and user engagement will diminish.

You also want to be sure to not commit one of the seven cardinal sins of social media. Social media can be a great way to market products and services or be used as an adopter for existing marketing campaigns, but be informed enough about best practices and tactics to make your messaging sticks in the minds of your consumers.

For help with your social media campaigns, contact Chiaroscuro Concepts at info@chiaroscuroconcepts.com.

Be sure to check out our site at www.ChiaroscuroConcepts.com to see our full list of services.

Posted in Facebook, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments