Our thoughts, opinions and ideas on a variety of subjects close to our heart. These include design, development, marketing, running a business and more.

Get more from your web site with Google Analytics

DEC 14
Gaining insight from analytics provides real business intelligence and informs your future tactical decisions by removing the guess work - and that's the key to getting a real return on your web site investment.

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Telling Stories With Your B2B Marketing: 6 Quick Wins You Can Do Right Now

DEC 13
Storytelling in marketing isn't some abstract concept, it's been around for years and it needn't be difficult to do. You already have the stories so go tell them!

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How to make a Christmas 'e-card' that doesn't suck

DEC 10

Ah, ‘tis the season for the B2B Christmas ‘e-card’. The very phrase is enough for some to go straight for the shift-delete option in their inbox to be followed swiftly by a large schooner of sherry rather than be forced to look at another self-serving, humourless video clip. But I’m no Scrooge. I am absolutely fine with the addition of a liberal dollop of seasonal cheese. Here’s a perfectly decent example of cheesy (from a BMW dealership)- but it works! And after all unless I’m very much mistaken December is the only time of the year we can actually say with some conviction ‘Well, it is Christmas’.

Here’s a couple that I’ve seen recently that I think get it very right. Bite CP’s is more your lavish spectacular, a seasonal blockbuster if you will - whilst Avvio’s is a lovely little indie sleeper hit and no less appealing for that.

So some very simple do’s and don’ts then for the online Christmas message (please let’s not call them ‘electronic cards’, last time I checked it wasn’t 1997!) • Do please try and entertain. It wouldn’t hurt would it? It is Christmas after all.
• Do something 'personal'. For me sticking a video camera in front of the CEO to deliver a heartfelt message is actually better than a homogenised, off-the shelf CGI snowman.
• Don’t buy some generic video and stick your logo on it. Stop that at once.
• Don’t pretend you’re doing something ‘electronic’ because it’s an environmentally-friendly option unless you can back it up.
• Don’t bother if it says nothing about you or what you stand for. Well here’s a great opportunity to 'humanise' your brand.

Like every single piece of marketing you put your name to, ‘Acceptable’ and ‘Fine’ really won’t do. I have a hunch your customers deserve better. Christmas is not an excuse to be lazy. So once more...and this time with some feeling please!

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Our e-book: Is your web site really delivering success for your business?

SEP 10
We've just created a short e-book about getting value from your web site and turning it into one of your businesses most useful employees. Words and illustrations all our own work. It's available to view or download as a PDF here. Hope you like it, please share if you do!

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Responsive Web Design - a simple guide

AUG 15
What is responsive web design? The quickest and easiest way to optimise your web site for users on many different devices.

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Designing a logo and branding: the creative process revealed

AUG 07
Logo design is a vitally important step when building a brand. This is how we go about it.

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It's about them not you: working with Personas and Scenarios

AUG 07
Personas illustration

I've had an epiphany recently and I'd like to share it with you. It's simple really. If you're designing a web site for them then you had better know as much as you can about who they really are. I know what you're thinking, 'are you telling me you've never given much thought to who the users and visitors of those web sites actually are?'. Well, not exactly. Listening to clients and gathering information is key to beginning any design project of course, but it's sometimes easy to fall in to the trap of making very broad assumptions about the visitors to the web site you're designing or redesigning. And (whisper it) clients tend do this too - sometimes because they think they know, and sometimes because they don't always see the necessity of digging too deep, or have the time to do it.

The unknown 'them' The problem with that is that designing a web site for a broad, unknown amorphous blob we can loosely call 'them', and cramming it with features that you think they will need isn't actually that smart. Put simply, if you want to address the needs of your customers you need to understand what those needs are and I think the best way to do that is with personas. By creating these archetypes and imagining realistic scenarios for them means you have to consider their behaviours and motivations throughout the process.

Customers and users are humans too When some people create Personas they actually put a photograph and a name on that character. This really means they focus on this person as a living, breathing human being. This takes your customers beyond simple demographics and helps you paint a vivid picture of a real person - the more detail you can go into the more flesh you put on that person. Once you've created those personas and scenarios you can use these to keep everyone working on the project focused on the user needs. Because ultimately it's their needs that matter most.

Do the research, mine the data My advice to any client now - not just the bigger ones - is is that you just have to spend the time to do the research into your users, how much research will depend on the client of course. There's plenty of articles (and some are listed below) about how to go about creating personas, but at the centre of it all is data and research. You can use web analytics and other customer data (often just asking those customers some questions) you've collected to get an idea of different patterns of behaviour.

Better understanding, better redesign

So if we want to put the user and their goals at the centre of your design then Personas allow us to gain a greater understanding of those users. As Aaron Walter puts it 'With personas in hand, we have a solid starting point for a redesign.'

Some good further reading on Personas: Understanding your users with Personas This is a great piece with a handy cartoon by Brad Colbow  Redesigning with Personality by Aaron Walter Using Personas & Scenarios in web design 6 Core Benefits of Well-Defined Marketing Personas Developing Personas Quick Guide

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The new Seedr web site is here!

AUG 07

Our new web site is a complete redesign from the ground up because we came to the realisation that our previous site just wasn't right. The problem for all designers is getting around to self-promotion when you're focussing on other people's promotions, but the time was right to make the changes. Everything we've learned recently about responsive design, content strategy, personas and scenarios has been used to create a brand new experience.

We've lovingly crafted every aspect of this ourselves, from the illustrations to content to the blog engine - call us control freaks if you will, but we wanted to make sure we could have this site work exactly the way we wanted it to.

We really hope you enjoy the new experience. Now Seedr Creative is now well and truly open for business, so please contact us if you have anything you want to discuss.

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8 tips to win at Google Adwords

MAR 12
Despite trends towards the 'longer game' such as SEO, content marketing and social marketing techniques, Google Adwords still offers small businesses a great way to harness the power of online advertising and get results quickly within affordable budgets. Its major advantage over 'organic' Search Engine Marketing is 'instant visibility': you can closely track your investment and its return and see the results. Recently we've been helping a portrait photographer achieve success (case study coming soon!) with lead generation in Adwords in a relatively short space of time. Here's some tips and advice for Google Adwords based on what we learned in the process. Get the ads right Sounds obvious but do this part well and you'll get more clicks, it's as simple as that. It's a tricky skill to get right: to create a compelling message in a few words to persuade people that you are what they're looking for, but one really worth persevering with. Google Adwords rewards quality and rates the most relevant clicked ads. It'll save you money to spend time getting this right. Landing pages Landing page design is fast becoming a bit of a science. If you want to convert clicks into sales leads, sign-ups or paying customers you have to consider the design, layout and overall usability of the pages people land on when they click on your pages. Sending people to your homepage and hoping they find their way to your call-to-action isn't going to cut it and might well put people off from returning at a later time. Understanding 'persuasion techniques' and applying them to your design is crucial. Testing, testing! Run several ads within one ad group; try different combinations of keywords; run different offers withing one campaign; tweak your landing page design to see the impact it'll have on conversions. Adwords has a lot of sophisticated data at your fingertips so try things and see what happens. You'll need to monitor this constantly and learn to understand what you're looking at and how it impacts on your campaigns. Stay organised, stay focused You could end up with a lot of ads running at once. Make sure you organise these in the right way: campaigns can have several ad groups within them; these groups will use the same set of keywords so if you want to try some different keywords than make another group. Run different ads within these groups to test the wording in your ads. Here's an example for a portrait photographer: Campaign: 'March offers' Adword groups (3 within the campaign): 'Free framed print'; '20% discount'; 'Free photoshoot offer' Ads within the adgroups (sharing the same set of keywords): Free framed print group: Ad #1 Family Studio Photography Have fun in our local studio Free shoot & framed photo Ad #2 Family Studio Photography Contemporary & stylish Free shoot & framed photo I can't stress the importance of fully understanding the difference between groups, campaigns and ads themselves. Good housekeeping will make it easier for you to keep track of what's going on, compare your tactics and also Do the research Adwords has plenty of great tools to help make the most out of your campaigns.The Keyword tool allows you to target the right keywords for your campaigns. You can get cost estimates, see how much competition there is and see the search volume for those phrases. You can do this on global and local searches which can be really useful for small businesses targetting specific locations. Target the right locations Don't waste your advertising budget showing ads in areas of the country you can't service. Adwords has geotargetting tools that means you can get very specific with this and select certain towns, cities and areas or if you prefer a radius (in miles or km) around your business. Get analytical You can link up your Adwords campaigns to Google Analytics. It's a great way to survey what's going on across your web site. Comparing the organic and paid search and its impact on visitor behaviour is vital to your overall website strategy. There's so much more to Adwords than the things I've touched upon, and it can feel a little daunting to begin with, but with the basics in place hopefully you can go forward with some confidence. If you want to know more about how to win at Google Adwords, designing landing pages that convert or anything else to with PPC online advertising then please get in touch.    

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Improve and convert: simple tips for better marketing communications

SEP 20
Some months ago I was contacted by a small business supplier I'd been in touch with in the past. We'd spoken on the phone before and had a conversation about the possibility of doing business in the future. I suggested that they send me an email some time and we'd go from there. When I received the email I was a little shocked. Not only did it make almost no sense at all it was riddled with grammatical errors and even the odd spelling mistake. It was extremely poorly presented too with different fonts all over the place and type so small it could hardly be read. The whole thing looked like it had been put together in a rush on a Friday afternoon as a last ditch effort to just do something to try and drum up business. I was so disappointed that I replied clearly explaining why we wouldn't be doing business together. My main point was clear: if you take that little care of your marketing communications then why should I entrust you with my business? I actually got a polite reply back which suggested they understood the spirit I had intended: nothing personal, just I wanted to express my disappointment at receiving something so slapdash. So here's some really simple tips to consider when creating marketing communications such as email marketing campaigns and direct mail. Be clear What exactly are you offering? Make that one compelling proposition crystal clear. Don't lose focus or get sidetracked into explaining that you also offer X, Y and Z. Clear call to actions What do you want the respondent to do? That's closely allied to having a clear and concise message.  You want your message to elicit a response and an action of some kind. Make sure that is explicit. Be believable Don't offer things you can't deliver or don't pretend to be something you're not. You'll get found out sooner or later. Oh the wit! Wit does not mean 'bad jokes'. It's about mental sharpness and inventiveness; keen intelligence. Doing business doesn't have to be deadly serious, people want to do business with people they like so tread cautiously but don't be afraid to be witty if it's the right fit for your product or service. Avoid clichés We must assume that your product or service is of a 'high quality', if it isn't then why would you bother? If you 'innovate' make sure you really can offer something that nobody else can. People get immune to the same old language and simply switch off. Check the spelling and grammar I think I covered that one in full...but really, there's no excuse for misspellings. Not every marketing campaign can be the greatest killer conversion tool ever - but everything should meet certain minimum levels of quality if you want to be taken seriously. Rise above the mediocre and just see what happens.

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