Author Archives: louise

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Logo Design Trend Predictions

Category:Branding Tags : 

I’m not a huge follower of design trends, as I really feel that each logo needs to suit the individual business and not follow fashion. However design does follow trends and I thought it might be interesting to look at the predicted trends for 2020….so here they are

3D Depth

Thanks to developments in technology and software we are seeing amazing 3D designs and we are certainly likely to see more of this in 2020.

Monotone

In 2017 there was  a huge duotone trend, well for 2020 this we’ll see this simplified even further to a monotone palette for the ultimate in minimalism.

Shiny Metal

Using metallic in design for both branding and product design has been super trendy recently, especially gold metallic which when used with a minimalist design gives a luxury look and feel.

Typography

Innovative typography is expected to flourish in 2020, literally in some cases, with floral typography being a really popular trend.

Line Art

This simple illustrative form has been gaining popularity over the last two years and 2020 will see more of this clean style.

Vintage

The 1950s is getting a rebirth in 2020 with early colours and hand drawn illustrations conveying that vintage fifties feel

Geometric

A popular trend for at least a decade, geometric designs are not as easy as they look. Very difficult to convey the right message.

Here are some of my logo designs which incorporate some of these trends, but obviously also meet the needs of the business and match the target audience!


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A Short Guide to Google Analytics

Category:Websites Tags : 

Some of you may have heard me say that having a website without some kind of statistics is like trying to drive with your eyes closed. Without data how do you know whether your website is doing what you need it to? If you are actively marketing your business you want to be able to see your visitor numbers increasing.

Analytics can also give you great data on things like, your most popular pages, the most popular days of the week and times that your website is accessed and even whether people are using your website more on desktop computers or mobile.

Checking your data can also help you find out if too many people are ‘bouncing’, this means leaving your website as soon as they find it.

I tend to recommend Google Analytics because it is free. There are lots of other statistics packages out there and some can give really detailed information. If you are a large B2B company there are packages that can identify what company has visited your website!

Setting Up Google Analytics

I have already written an FAQ on how to get Google Analytics on your website, so I won’t repeat myself…you can read about it here

What do I do now?

Ok so now you have it, unless you have a lovely digital agency who will send you a report on a regular basis you’ll need to login and check your stats. I find it useful to diarise this for the beginning of each month.

Easiest way to login is to Google ‘Google Analytics’ click the result and enter you username and password. You’ll start on the Dashboard which gives you very immediate data, including how many people are on your website right now and visitor trends for the past week. You can scroll down to see information like When do your users visit and What are your top devices.

Useful Data

Here are the most useful areas for me, on the right hand side you will see a menu which includes Audience. Click here and then click on Overview.

Select the date range in the top left, I like to view data by month (I also record this data outside of Google Analytics, but that’s up to you)

The data you can now see will tell you:

Users – how many individual people accessed your website during the month

Sessions – How many times people accessed your website during the month (a person may have accessed your website several times)

Number of Sessions per User

Page Views – How many pages in total your users viewed

Pages per Session

Average Session Duration

Bounce Rate – This is a figure which tells you how many of your users came to the site and left immediately. Anything under 50% is fine….unfortunately at least half of your ‘visitors’ will probably be ‘bots’ – these could be good bots (like Google bots) or bad bots (like Spam Bots), but there is nothing you can really do to stop them and you could spend a lot of time and money trying.

You will also see a pie chat showing New and Returning visitors. 80/20 would be a good split here to show your website is engaging current and new customers.

I now like to take a look at how visitors found my website. You can find this information again in the left hand menu under Acquisition, you may have to close the Audience menu to see it. Once again select overview and set the date period if you need to

Here you will find the source of your visitors displayed both as a pie chart and a table

Organic Search – this means people that found your website in the natural Google listings. In theory you could also find out what term people searched for, but most people have private browsing enabled, so this often does not yield helpful data

Direct – these are people who typed your website address into the address bar of their browser, they may have found it on your business card, email signature, an advert or flyer

Social – fairly self explanatory….these are visitors that came from social networks, clicking on this in the table will give you a breakdown of your most popular social networks

Referral – this is people who clicked on your website address on another website, unfortunately much of this data is often Spam bots, so if you see things like xyz.co.uk just ignore

You may see other sources too for example if you have run a recruitment advert on a large national site

Finally is you have run a PPC campaign you can see Paid Search data here, the number of people that came to your website after clicking on your Google Ad.

Google Analytics contains a huge volume of data about your site and your visitors, but if you can at least start by hooking it up to your website and keeping an eye on the above stats on a monthly basis it will give you a great insight into how your website and your marketing is working.


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The Effect of Colour in Design

Category:Branding Tags : 

We all know that colour is important, from an early age we are asked ‘what is your favourite colour?” and you are expected to have an answer ready! Later in life we choose colour in our wardrobe to make us feel confident and colour in our home to make us feel relaxed or comfortable. It’s no surprise then that colour is an important aspect of design.

This month I’m going to take a look at what colours make you feel and which brands are using colour effectively, but remember it’s not just about your brand, colour can also be used effectively in Point of Sale, Call to Action, Social Networks, Advertising, Exhibitions – in fact anywhere that you want to stand out from the crowd!

Feeling – Energetic, Excited, Bold

Use – Often used to promote discounts, offers and deals, used by brands who want to appear good value and exciting

Feeling – Warm, Friendly, Cheerful

Use – Often used in Calls to Action and by companies that want to appear approachable and accessible

Feeling – Optimistic, Youthful, Happy

Use – Often used in Point of Sale and Window Displays and by companies who want you to feel joyful about their brand

Feeling – Peaceful, Calm, Natural

Use  – Often used by companies who want to project a healthy or ‘green’ image

Feeling – Trust, Dependable, Progressive

Use –  Often used by Financial or Health businesses were reliability is paramount

Feeling – Creative, Wise, Imaginative

Use – Often used by Beauty brands or companies that want to appear established, but fun

Feeling – Feminine, Soft, Young

Use – Often used by companies who want to appeal to women or teens

Feeling – Goodness, Trustworthy, Established

Use – Often used by brands who want to appear traditional and good or organic

Feeling – Strong, Powerful, Sleek

Use  – Often used by sports and luxury brands, can be very strong in design layout

Feeling – Balanced, Calm, Professional

Use –  Often used in the technology and automotive markets, works well as an accent with all other colours.

Feeling – Modern, Fun, Advanced

Use  – Often used by technology or internet brands, especially to convey the idea that their product is new and innovative

So let’s have a look at how some of the brands I have created stack up against these guidelines (you might recognise your logo in here):

So what colour is your logo and do you feel like it is representing your brand values to your target audience?


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How to email market after GDPR

Category:Email Marketing Tags : 

Email marketing is a bit like marmite…some people love it, others hate it, but after the dreaded GDPR a lot of you may have decided it was just too much trouble!

It seems that many people weren’t really aware of Data Protection Legislation before GDPR and are under the impression that GDPR was a whole new area of legislation, but in reality, it was just an upgrade to the existing Data Protection laws. However new law, or upgrade, the fact is that GDPR has made email marketing more complicated, but not necessarily defunct.

My advice about Email Marketing has changed very little, but there are a few things to bear in mind which make it work.

In the past email marketing often consisted of buying an email list of prospects and then thinking up something very clever and interesting to get these people, who didn’t know your business, to enquire about your product or service. Unfortunately this really didn’t work and now it would actually be breaking Data Protection Regulations.  GDPR says that people on your mailing list have to specifically request contact from you and you CANNOT email them (with marketing information) until you have this permission. This means that buying a list THEN emailing people to ask if they would like to hear from you is against the law and you could be fined for it.

So my advice now, as ever, is to use email marketing as a way to keep in touch with contacts you already have. Use it to get to the magic ‘7 touch points’ before a prospect is ready to buy from you.

You can contact people you know with ‘Legitimate Interest’ to ask if they would like to hear from you and giving them a link to subscribe. This is better than subscribing them manually as you have a record that they subscribed themselves. You could also have this subscribe feature on your website and mention it on your social media channels.

So, you’ve got in touch with your contacts and some of them have subscribed – yey! Next you need to figure out what you are going to say, because you can bet if it’s not interesting they are not going to stay subscribed for long. BTW it is the law to have an unsubscribe link on all your marketing emails – the best way to make sure you are on the right side of the law with these type of things is to use an email marketing program such as MailChimp, as they know what the law is and will try and keep you on the right side of it (although that is no excuse not to know the law yourself).

So what is interesting content…in general it tends to fall into two categories

  1. Advice and information
  2. Offers and discounts

It may be that you cannot really give either, in which case email marketing is not for you – if you can’t say something interesting, don’t say anything at all!

Unfortunately, your subscribers are not going to be interested in pictures of your latest work, testimonials from happy clients or details of your services (save that for social media) – you need to give them something to get their teeth into! So an offers email or an email newsletter would be great.

Next comes frequency…how often is too often? Again it depends what you sell, but it is also worth bearing in mind how much time you have to come up with content, or perhaps the seasonality of your offers. If you decide on an e-newsletter with advice on your industry then you’ll have to come up with all the advice, as well as putting the email together, I would suggest that most people don’t have enough time to do this more than once a quarter. Even if your email will be mostly quick offers it could get annoying if people are receiving it more than once a week.

Finally, a quick piece of advice about design and layout. It is very important that your email newsletter follows your brand and that all the information is neatly and cleanly laid out, as well as having enticing images and copy. You could have a designer put together the first email and then replicate and change the content each time you want to send it out.

If you want more advice about email marketing check out the FAQs section of my website, or drop me an email and we can have a chat about how email marketing could work for your business.  


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Tone of voice….and how to find yours

Category:Branding Tags : 

Have you ever seen footage of BBC television programmes from the 1920’s? If you have you’ll remember the tone of voice was very specific – posh, plummy English was the only tone of voice allowed!

Things have moved on a bit since then and you’ll now find a huge range of voices on television and radio, but tone of voice also applies when you are writing a social media post or blog or even presenting a visual image to a prospective customer.

The most important thing about tone of voice is to get the right one for your audience. Cillit Bang is well known for Barry Scott’s loud, brash tone of voice and their catchphrase ‘Bang! And the dirt is gone’ – it works for them, but if Johnsons Baby products were to adopt the same tone it would be very jarring.

So how do you find your tone of voice? The best place to start is with the definition of your target audience and of course your brand’s unique selling points.

If your brand is knowledgeable and trustworthy and your clients are serious business people, then your tone of voice needs to be serious, weighty and reassuring, and certainly not silly, funny or flighty. However if your target audience is students and your brand is fun and recreational then you definitely SHOULD have a light and amusing tone. It will be fine for you to use emojis and LMFAO!

The same technique can be applied to choosing an image, fun, cartoony images are fine for fun brands, but serious subjects need a more careful approach. Just because you like little cartoons and use them in your personal Facebook posts, doesn’t mean they are appropriate for your business communications.

The final thing to remember about tone of voice is consistency. We all get very used to a certain tone of voice from our favourite brands and any deviation from that tone, even the use of ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ when talking about your work or achievements can be very strange.

Once you have found your tone of voice you can employ it in all your marketing; brochures, social media, website, email newsletters and even your actual conversations with clients.


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Website Redesign – things to think about

Category:Websites Tags : 

A business connection recently asked “My website is two years old, do I need a new one?” You can read my answer to that question here, but if you have decided that you do indeed need a new website you’ll want to make sure you have thought of everything so you don’t need a new one again in a few years time! So here are my top 10 things to think about if you are redesigning your website

Check out the competition

Whatever marketing you are undertaking it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition. In this case you want to visit their websites (but as a rule make a List of your competitors on Twitter is a great way to keep an eye on them – read more about how to do this in my FAQ). Have a look at what they are doing that you think is good. I’m not saying copy them, but be inspired by great ideas. Also see if there is anything that you think doesn’t work so you can avoid it!

Does your current website have any particular problem areas

Are there any parts of your website that you are particularly concerned about, or that people have mentioned don’t work well. Perhaps your website isn’t mobile friendly (if you are not sure you can check here), maybe it takes too many clicks to get to important content. Whatever the issue keep this at the forefront of your mind as you consider your redesign

What about SEO

How does your current website perform in search engines? If the answer is ‘very well thanks’, then be sure what you do does not negatively effect your results. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the redesign – you are not coming up in search engines…in which case make sure you do your SEO research right at the start. Or maybe search engines just are not an important part of your marketing strategy – that’s fine, but be sure that is the case before you disregard them.

Take a look at your website statistics

Does your current site have analytics? Google Analytics is a great free tool that can help you find out which are your most popular pages, how long people spend on your site and whether or not they come back. If you have it, then have a look through the statistics to find out what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t have it then make sure that you install it in your new website – you can read more about Google Analytics in this FAQ

Ask your customers

By far the easiest way to find out what is good and bad about your existing website is to ask! If you have many customers you could set up a short survey and allow people visiting your website to fill it out, perhaps offering a reward to participants. If you clientele is more limited you could email a survey to selected clients. Survey Monkey is a great free tool for creating your own online surveys.

What is the goal of your website

It’s really important to have your website goal front and centre throughout the design process. Perhaps your website has more than one goal, in which case you can prioritise several goals. It might be to give information, to create enquiries or to sell products, but whatever it is keep it in mind at all times.

Do you know your target audience

It’s never too late to create your target audience persona…is it Rebecca the Stay at Home Mum? Lawrence the Lawyer? Margaret the Retiree? Perhaps you have more than one target audience persona. If you haven’t already thought this out now is the time! It will make your website redesign and all your marketing so much easier and more effective

Review your content

Have a good look through ALL of your website content. Is anything out of date? Is there anything that is surplus to requirements. Just like the shelves of a shop everything in your website should be useful and beautiful. Don’t keep anything that doesn’t have a purpose.

Make sure you are happy with your brand

If you are redesigning your website is it also time for a rebrand? If your reason for a website redesign is because your business or target audience has changed then it may also be time to think about a rebrand. You certainly don’t want to spend your valuable time and money redesigning your website only to realise in six months time that you need a new logo!

Draft your new structure and content before you get started

Once you have followed all of the above steps, you’ll be in a great position to create a website structure, this will list all of the planned pages for your website. Because you have done your SEO research you’ll know your keywords and be able to write your service content to reflect these. If you are having a blog you should get at least 3 ready for when you go live and also have all the case studies and testimonials prepared. Get all your images ready, resized for web and named sensibly. All this planning and organisation will make your redesign go much more smoothly

As ever if you are thinking about a website redesign and you need some help, drop me a line louise@inspirationagency.co.uk


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Why isn’t my SEO working?

Category:SEO Tags : 

Search Engine Optimisation is a big part of marketing strategies these days, but it can feel like you are throwing your money away, so I thought I’d outline some of the reasons your SEO might not be giving the results you want.

No one actually searches on Google for what you do

Although ‘Googling’ is a very popular way to find products and services these days not every business is going to find their customers trawling through search engines for them. This is especially true of some ‘consultancy’ type businesses, particularly when you are servicing a local area. These clients are much more likely to come by referral and you are better off investing your marketing budget in referral marketing than SEO.

You are optimising the wrong keywords

This is something I often come across when talking to new clients about their existing SEO. Do you know exactly the keywords your SEO efforts are optimising? And do you know how many people search for those keywords each month? If you don’t you may very well be spending money optimising keywords no one is searching for. Even relatively small changes can make a real difference. A recent search I did for a clients turned up that ‘antenatal class bournemouth’ has 10 searches per month, but ‘antenatal classes bournemouth’ has 100 searches! That’s a big different in potential clients all for adding ‘es’

You haven’t got your meta data right

So you have done your research and you know people are definitely search for what you do and you know the exact words they are searching for, but did that information get accurately translated into your website content. It is essential that your keywords appear in your website content – both the front end stuff that real people read and also the meta data that search engines read….if you don’t get this right you won’t be appearing.

Your website isn’t converting visitors into customers

Unfortunately being ranked in search engines is not the end of the SEO journey, now your website has to be good enough to actually convince these hard earned visitors into people who actually want to buy from you. There are a large number of factors to consider here, but the two most important are

  1. Does your website give them all the information they need
  2. Is it your website clear and easy to use

You aren’t spending enough to beat the competition

This one is a bit of a shame, because it may be that people DO search for what you do, but there is already huge competition out there spending a fortune on SEO and you just don’t have the budget to compete. Once again this is something you can find out right at the start when you do the all important keyword research and if you don’t have the budget to compete then find another marketing method that you can afford.

Of course it could be a combination of all of these factors. If you’d like some bespoke feedback and advice on your SEO contact me for a chat.


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Helpful little guide to fonts

Category:Design Tags : 

There are many pieces of design that a graphic designer is essential for, but if you have the time and the inclination you can create great design yourself for a variety of marketing channels.

Tools like Canva allow amateurs to have a go at design, creating social media banners, website banners and even flyers. Mailchimp allows everyone to manage and send email campaigns and gives great flexibility in layout and design. However it’s not easy to create great looking design and one of the most difficult parts can be typography or how to layout text, so I thought I’d create this handy little guide to making fonts look good

So first lets very simply look at what different fonts say to an audience:

Now I would say that in body text you want to stick with either serif or sans-serif and on the whole try and stick with fonts that match your branding. Here are some other helpful rules to make your text look great

Make sure the Leading (space between lines) is at least 2 points more than your font size, so it’s not too squashed

Don’t stretch the fonts, although for a modern, high-end look you might like to increase the Tracking – space between the letters

Don’t use too many fonts, two is enough really, more than that looks messy and takes away from what you are trying to say

Use bold or larger fonts for titles and sub titles, so the hierarchy of the text looks right

Use fancy fonts for titles, not body text

Only use Script fonts in lower case, they look awful in upper case.

Watch out for ‘orphans’ – leaving one word on it’s own at the end of a sentence

I hope this little guide helps you create more beautiful designs which match your brand and really speak to your target audience


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What is UX?

Category:Websites Tags : 

UX or User Experience is a term you will often hear bandied about in the website community these days, but what is it and more importantly why is it important for your business’ website.

UX stands for User Experience and when used in relation to websites it means what a person experiences when visiting your website. UX can also be used in other areas of your business, for example when someone calls, visits or interacts in another way with your business. I’m focusing on Website UX.

Why is UX important?

It is likely that your website was a big investment for your business, so it is essential that investment pays off and if your users are not having a good experience on your website the chances are it won’t.

If you have invested in a website I hope you have also invested (either time or money) in getting people to your website, this could be through PPC, SEO, Social Media, Blogging or a variety of other marketing methods, so if once you get your all important prospective customers to your website you really want them to convert – otherwise that was all a big waste of time and money!

UX can help ensure your website visitors become customers, there is a lot to website UX, but here are some things to consider when looking at User Experience on your website

Prioritise information

One of the nice things about websites is that you can include soooo much information. However it is essential that you think about the priority of information. What is the most important piece of information for your users, ensure that information is given the ‘top slot’ on your home page and then drill down from there. I would say one of your most important pieces of information is your contact details – so make sure they are front and centre.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel

People are used to the way websites work, navigation is at the top of the page, contact link will be on the right, links are highlighted and underlined, buttons are rounded corner rectangles. If it works and people will find it easy to use don’t try and do something different just for the sake of it

Stick to your brand style

Translating your brand into a full website design can be difficult, it’s easy to get carried away with fonts, colours and imagery, but it is essential to stick to your brand style, so that users aren’t confused and distracted. Your website’s priority is to enhance your brand and communicate your message, if in doubt, leave it out

Think about all the pages, not just your home page

It can be very easy to focus on the design of your home page and let the others pages take second place, but bear in mind that a user might not enter your website at your home page. If you are relying on SEO or PPC they are likely to enter at one of your product or service pages. If you are blogging then the blog page will be their first impression of your site. Of course they will hopefully take a look at your other pages, but it is essential that their first impression, whatever page that might be, is good

Make your website scannable

Just like reading a book or magazine, people scan websites. The phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ has never been more true! So ensure that people can understand your website and business with a quick scan. Once they find something that interests them they will read, but you have to capture their interest.

Get rid of pop ups

They are annoying – get rid…simple

So now you know what website UX is and how to improve yours. I’d love to hear your thoughts…are there any websites which you feel have great UX or that really annoy you?


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Is print advertising dead?

Category:Design Tags : 

As the internet has grown and developed the question of whether print advertising still works has been something that comes up in discussions with my clients over and over again.

Throughout the 20th Century print advertising was king! Everyone read newspapers or magazines and popping an advert in one was a fantastic way to get new clients. The brilliant Mad Men shows what a high-pressure, successful world advertising was.

However in 1990 a clever guy called Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet and advertising in the traditional sense changed forever. Suddenly you could promote your business yourself with a snazzy new website! However businesses soon found out that people were not going to just magically know your website was there, so advertising was still key – how else were your prospective customers going to know what your website address was!

So advertising became less about telling customers about all your products and services, the website could do that, but just about telling people about your brand and letting them come and find out more, but then some brainboxes in California came up with Google and the game changed again.

Now it would seem people could search for your business on their actual computers and it appeared to be free advertising! Who would ever want a print advert again. Unfortunately as the years went by we realised that Google wasn’t as free as it seemed….actually getting a Google ranking involved quite a bit of work (or paying someone to do the work for you) or Google gave you the wondrous opportunity to pay for a top Google ranking (Pay-Per-Click). The best thing about Google, if you knew about it, was Google Analytics….definitely free and giving you the ability to track your website visitors; how many you get, how they found you etc. Finally you could actually give your advertising a Return-on-Investment number!

Mark Zuckerberg appeared to put the final nail in the coffin for print advertising in 2004 when he launched his Facebook. This was quickly followed by Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and many more than did not make it. Initially these seemed like great places to keep track of cousins and school friends, to check out your friend’s dinners or days out, but they soon became the perfect advertising platform. Not only are the results trackable, but you can also target your advert very specifically, run it for as short or long time as you like and it doesn’t cost the earth….so is it time to say goodbye to print advertising forever?

Unfortunately for many brands it may be that time, if your target audience are young people and teens there is some argument that they may never purchase a magazine or newspaper and in fact that reading on paper is a dead art for them, however if your audience is over the age of 20 there may still be hope.

The main problem with print advertising is that it is so hard to know whether it worked or not. Even if you asked every person that enquired they may not remember where they heard about you, or they may have seen your advert, visited your website and say that was how they came to you with no mention of the advert at all.

So do I have any tips for making print advertising work for your business….I’m so glad you asked

  1. Don’t take up last minute advertising offers, do your research and find out if your target audience is actually reading the publication. A larger investment in a quality publication is more valuable than a small investment that brings in nothing
  2. Really think about what you want to advertise…if possible create an offer with a unique code so you can track responses and find out your ROI
  3. Have your advert professionally designed, don’t just throw something together. Print is still a busy place and the readers are actually interested in the content, so you have to catch their attention
  4. Don’t put too much in your advert – keep it clean, use your website to give more info

One final thing to bear in mind is that many publications are going online now and they combine their print advertising deals with digital advertising, so make sure you find out if there is a digital aspect particularly if you are looking at a younger audience.