the internet ideas blog

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Mighty QR

One of our clients, Karl Miller of Lark Label, sent an email this morning that he is now going to be printing his plant labels with QR codes included. You may have seen these little square bits of nothingness and wondered what they were. Or maybe you've used a QR code yourself to access a website, additional info or even a promotional offer.

QR stands for "quick response" indicating how the icon will take the visitor quickly to advertisement or how the QR code user will hopefully respond quickly to the offer.

The way to use the QR code is to use your smart phone with an app like "shop savvy" (which is what I have on my Android) or "bar code" for iPhone. There are many free readers available - just shop your apps. Once you have the bar code reader on your phone simply open the app and point the camera of the phone at the QR code. When the phone "reads" the code it will show you a coupon, take you to a website or give additional info.

On items like botanical plant signs where the space is severely limited, the QR code gives a lot more info on the phone. Almost unlimited space to tell everything you would want to know about a special breed of pansies, for example.

Word of caution: since it does take an app & smart phone (or iPad) to read, be sure you aren't leaving out the web address where others can find more info.

If you are going to feature a QR code be sure to use it in a way that will impress the visitor. Don't just send them to them to a link. Give them the added value that is expected when using a QR code like information NOT featured on the sign, a special coupon NOT already out there. I'm sure you get the idea.

The QR code isn't restricted to just signs. They are on product labels, in magazine ads, on SWAG items and more. And yes, you can put a QR code on a website...but not sure why you would want to, it's just as easy to link and you don't want to make your web visitors get out a smart phone to read a special on the website.

Where have you seen QR codes? What clever way do you know of to use QR codes? We would love to read your ideas!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Value of Search Ranking Reports

You don't hear much about search engine ranking reports lately. It used to be all the rage. Of course a few years ago you really didn't need much effort to get a "true" search ranking report that wasn't diluted by your IP address giving you local information first or tracking your recent browsing history to guess what you wanted to know.

Yet the search ranking report can be a valuable tool in measuring the performance of keyword terms in a website and the effectiveness of search engine optimization efforts. Having a third reporting source that can give you unbiased results is a must if you really want to know how your website fares.

To get an even better picture of how your website is ranking in the search engines, use a broad variety of terms that relate to your product or service. As an example: you may not be on the first page for "paint brushes" but you may be on top for "high quality paint brushes." The longer term may not be searched as often but when a visitor is as specific to use 4 words - they are more likely to be your customer. They know what they want and when they find the right website they are mentally closer to actually making the purchase.

When you have a comprehensive search ranking report which includes many of the top ranking words and longer phrases you'll get a better picture of what is happening and find those areas that need more attention.

Want a ranking report for your website free? Just send an email with your

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What happens when . . .

What happens when the internet goes out. No I'm not talking about some hypothetical apocalyptic premonition. No, I mean what happens when the internet goes out here, at Ideas That Work.

So first, we curse Cox for the anomaly of our internet being spotty and going out when the wind blows, a heavy truck rolls by on the next street over, a squirrel uses the wire as a skywalk . . . you get the idea. Then we check our modem and router just to make sure our anger isn't misplaced.

Luckily, this time it was at the lunch hour so I asked Chris to slam the door on the way out just in case it jiggles something back into place. No such luck.

All through lunch I struggled with the internet/ no internet problem and finally called Cox. Just as the rep was finished setting me up with an appointment, which I was sure would be another failed attempt to locate the problem, the alert went out that the area was suffering from an outage. Well good, at least it would get the immediate attention of the Cox employees.

Next, Chris, Dan and I look for work that can be performed offline - a struggle when your business is online. I had been working with a style sheet issue and told Chris I would email it to him so he could troubleshoot... it only took a second for everyone to burst out in laughter - can't email without internet!

Then Dan manages to get the internet through his phone and becomes the sole productive worker in the office. He offered to let me connect since I wireless, but I turned him down in fairness to Chris - to which Dan replied,"Make me look like the only productive person!"

In the meantime the mailman came by - mail! Wow, we can communicate without the internet! But what happens when I need my friend Hey, we found an actual print dictionary - and it lead us to an appropriate word for this situation: DisConnected - to be out of touch, not in the loop, separated, ostrasized.

About 2 hours later the issue is resolved and, as you can see from this blog post, we are back online - or not. Just as I was finishing this post... it's gone out again. Luckily, I had already saved this post to my notepad just in case.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Off to a Great Start

What a week! Hard to come back after all those short weeks and holidays but Chris, Dan and I managed to get our heads together and we're back - full steam ahead!

Here are a few of the things we'll be focusing on this year:
  • Mobile Web - does your website look smart on smart phones and other devices?
  • Google+ - looks like Google is going to use their own social channel to help in ranking websites. We'll be watching the impact of social on Google's SERP.
  • QR codes - yup, we can do that!
  • Putting more videos on our website as a resource in addition to the articles we add to each month.
And of course, all the online marketing channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Bing, paid advertising, and email marketing. Speaking of that - have you liked us on Facebook yet?

Watch for new client designs coming out this month and updates on results we've achieved for our existing clients.

Hope your year is off to a great start as well!

And if you're keeping track, this is day 7 of 365 days of blogging. So far I'm on track with a post to my personal blog yesterday and a post to Anesthesia Billing & ATM Sales blogs today... now if I can keep it up over the weekend...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Here's a question . . .

Can anyone tell me why automotive websites have photos of the mechanics all over the place but no one shows a photo of the happy repair customer getting their keys back?

You might wonder where this came from but today I am working on a website for one of my original customers from back in 2004 - they are having their 2 websites redesigned and they are in the auto/truck repair business. Like many web designers, I often 'surf the net' looking for ideas and inspiration. Today I noticed how many auto websites are 1) poorly designed overall and 2) don't have any satisfied customer photos or comments.

There are several immutable truths when it comes to convincing visitors to do business with you and one of them is the trust that is instilled when you see the smiling face of the happy customer and read the comments. It's great that there are happy, smiling, clean mechanics (who never really look just that way) but what instills more confidence? The happy customer or the happy mechanic?

Of course just writing this blog raises the bar on what I will have to deliver for my clients - because at this point if I don't do better than what I've seen, I'm no better than the rest. So the gauntlet has been thrown & the challenge is on!

Would be interested to read your opinions - feel free to leave your comments :)

PS. this is day 5 of my 365 days of blogging . . . still going strong and haven't missed a day - yet!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Brain is On the Market

One of the things that the guys say I do well is brainstorming with clients and prospects - listening to their goals and coming up with ways to meet those goals. I also get comments on the way I can bring the conversation out of the cyber clouds and down to earth so real people can understand.

So this year, I'm putting my brain on the market. That's right you can have brain time with me - a chance to talk to a human factors psychology professional that's been marketing businesses online since 1999.

Sounds a bit creepy but how often do people offer up their brains and all the information stored inside?

So you can get an idea of what I talk about when coming up with a marketing strategy or answering questions about getting better search engine placement or more sales from a website - I've put the first of what may be many brainstorming samples online (love the technology of YouTube).

Take a listen then give me a call! I'm easy to talk to and very enthusiastic about helping your business grow :)

And for those of you keeping track of my New Years Resolution - this is day 4 of the 365 days of blogging. I blogged yesterday on my personal blog so I haven't missed yet!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Anti-Resolution Resolved

So here it is, January 1, 2012. The day for starting new resolutions.

Funny thing about resolutions, they happen only once a year but usually people resolve to do something they can start any other time of the year, so why wait until January 1 - as if that's some magical day and all things are right in the world once more. The other thing is that if you resolve to do something and about 1/2 way through the year you aren't doing it - you'll feel bad about yourself on the next New Year for realizing you didn't do it last year. And if you didn't do what you resolved last year, then how can you be sure you'll do it this year. You see the vicious cycle this creates.

This year I decided to forget about the resolutions. I set up my "vision board" for what I would like to accomplish this year and decided what areas that present opportunities for improvement here at work. All was well, ready to start fresh on January 2. (We decided to work instead of playing hooky like the mailman)

Then something happened, I watched that movie, Julie & Julia and how she blogged everyday about the cooking she was doing. I got to thinking that if she could do it I could too - blogging I mean, not cooking from Julia Child's book. So I reversed my anti-resolution stance putting myself at risk of disappointment for 1 thing. I will blog everyday for 365 days. The great thing is I actually started yesterday on another blog I own so I'm already down to 364.

Now since I write blogs for clients I figure that as long as I write one post on any of the blogs I manage each day I'll count that. Most of the 364 posts will be here or on my other personal blog but the point is -- I'm resolving to do it.

I read where blogging is very important, I tell clients it's important yet like the cobbler's child our business and my personal blog get neglected often. If they were plants they are wilting if not dead.

Okay - who's with me? Who will accept the challenge of writing on their blog every day for the next year? I know it sounds daunting but if Julie could do it - I can too. And she was cooking a la Julia Childs along the way.

Would love to hear from you, dear readers.
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