Category Archives: Advertising

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Improve Your Website From a Gamification Perspective

A step-by-step guide

Launching a new website can be a challenging and stressful time… we should know! A few weeks ago we relaunched the PAULEY website after a major design upgrade. We’d taken advantage of the latest web technologies to create a more interesting and engaging user experience.

The website looked great, but how did we know it was working? Was it doing the job we needed it to do?

Your website is one of your most important marketing assets. But it can be tricky to figure out whether it’s working as hard as it should be.

As part of the upgrade process we utilised HubSpot’s Website Grader—a free website verification tool, which analyses key metrics to address the performance, mobile responsiveness, SEO and security of your site to make sure it’s reaching your target audience. You could also try Google’s PageSpeed tools, although they’re not quite as user-friendly.

After analysing your website, the tool will return a score out of 100, providing useful information and insights about its overall performance to improve your website. Within a few days, we’d figured out how to bump up our score from 64% to the elusive 100%. And it’s something you can do, too.

Website Grader’s great example of gamified marketing makes the process enjoyable and addictive. Can you score 100%?

Let us take you through a step-by-step guide to how you can maximise your online presence.

1. Improving your site’s performance

This functional assessment of how your site can be improved has the most steps. There are seven key metrics you’ll need to work on:

Page size

This analyses the size of your website’s homepage. In order to achieve a positive score, you must ensure your homepage is less than 3MB in size. We did this by:

  • Removing any redundant code
  • Compressing images\ videos to reduce their file size
  • Avoiding too many custom font files
  • Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for such files as jQuery
  • Utilising CSS image sprite technology

Page requests

This looks at the number of HTTP requests your website page is making. In order to score a positive mark and improve your website, you must reduce this number to below 30. We achieved this by:

  • Removing any redundant CSS \ JavaScript files
  • Combining CSS code into 1 single file
  • Combining JavaScript code into 1 or 2 files
  • Utilising CSS image sprite technology

Page speed

This looks at the amount of time it takes to fully render your website (the faster, the better). In order to achieve a positive score, the time taken must be less than 3 seconds. We managed to speed up our website’s load time by:

  • Removing any redundant code
  • Removing any redundant CSS \ JavaScript files
  • Utilising Browser Caching
  • Optimising and compressing all images \ videos to help lower their file size
  • Using services such as FontAwesome to replace some images with their equivalent font icon
  • Compressing any CSS \ JavaScript files

Browser caching

This checks to see if caching has been enabled. By doing this, it enables past visitors of your website to view any previous viewed page again without downloading the images, videos and scripts a second time, or if their Internet connection becomes limited or unavailable. To enable caching, speak to your website hosting company regarding enabling Apache’s mod_expires.c and adjusting the .htaccess file.

Page redirects

This checks that you’re not using any page redirects—a technique used when directing a user from one URL to another. In order to achieve a positive score you must ensure that no page redirects are active, as this will inevitably slow down your page loading time. Therefore any active page redirects should be removed or disabled as soon as possible.

Compression

This checks to see if your CSS and JavaScript files have been compressed. By compressing CSS and JavaScript files you will help reduce their overall file size and thus achieve a faster load time and a reduction in bandwidth consumption. If you’re not comfortable with compressing files yourself, then you’ll find an array of useful online tools, such as JavaScript Compression and CSS Compression.

Render blocking

Render blocking can have a detrimental effect on your website’s loading time, and it’s often the result of CSS and JavaScript code keeping your website from loading quickly. Improve your website by:

  • Combining your CSS \ JavaScript into the least number files possible
  • Putting complex JavaScript files at the bottom of your site
  • Avoiding the use of @import to call CSS files
  • Correctly labelling your CSS files (ie: media=”print”)

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 14.23.402. Making your site mobile-friendly

It’s now vital that all websites have a mobile-optimised version, because not doing so could result in your ranking being penalised by search engines such as Google.

But you might need a professional to help you: This process can often demand a high level of time and financial investment, depending on your website’s size and complexity.

Creating a responsive design creates a fluid experience, and allows your website to adapt its layout for a multitude of different device sizes, such as desktops, tablets and smartphones. Responsive sites also avoid the need for a separate tablet and mobile optimised version.

Website grader also looks at the ‘view ports’ metric, which checks for any valid view ports code. This is the method in which the size of your website is controlled by the size of the device you’re viewing it on, such as a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Additionally it allows for better control when showing or hiding particular elements from certain device screen sizes.

3. Getting SEO to work for you

Search Engine Optimisation is a poorly understood area, but Website Grader breaks it down into four metrics to make it more approachable:

Page titles

Page titles are vitally important coding tags which are used to display the current page name in your web browser, and used by search engines when rendering search results. Page titles should always be unique, under 70 characters long, and should directly describe the page being viewed.

META description

Hidden within the code, META descriptions explain the content of the page being viewed, and help search engines and other external services to gain a better understanding of what they’re looking at. META descriptions should be no more than 155 characters long, and with a small amount of coding experience, META descriptions can easily be added into a page to improve your website.

Headings

This checks that your website is correctly utilising heading tags (H1, H2), which are used to describe the sections of your website’s page. If your score is showing in the red, then it’s necessary to check you’re using heading tags in the correct manner.

Sitemap

An XML sitemap can help search engines index and understand your website better. Therefore, if your score is showing in the red, try introducing an XML sitemap. Ideally a Sitemap should be generated manually for better control, but there are several external services that can attempt to automatically generate the sitemap for you.

4. Securing your site

This one’s easy, but simple solutions don’t come for free!

A Security Certificate, also known as a SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) helps to protect your website from security attacks by encrypting communications between the user and website server. It also creates trust with your website users by demonstrating you’re a verified website and a trusted source.

Typically, security certificates can be obtained directly from your website hosting company, and generally cost less than $100 to purchase and install.

Conclusions

We challenge you to get 100% for your organisation’s website!

We love Website Grader’s clear visuals and gamified marketing—exactly the kind of approach we use in our eLearning and Digital Sales programs to encourage trainees and pull in buyers.

And if you still need help with how to improve your website, then we’d be happy to assist. Good luck!

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4 Reasons Why Experiential Marketing with Virtual & Augmented Reality Boosts Sales

Experiential marketing—using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other interactive, 3D touchscreen technologies—is a massively growing field. It places your customers into a fully immersive, branded environment, delivering an engaging and memorable physical interaction.

Consumers have always expected increasingly innovative and hi-tech ways of viewing and assessing their investments. And here’s why you should consider experiential marketing, too:

1. Let natural interaction do the selling for you

Everyone loves digital interactivity. Our brains are programmed to respond to colour, movement, sound and physical interaction. The act of physically engaging with an interface has been proven time and again to increase the memorability of the content and leave a lasting impression.

At the inaugural Space Situational Awareness Conference, there was a constant queue of delegates at our stand, all of whom were keen to take a VR trip into space using the Oculus Rift.

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Tracking technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are already being integrated into events and experiences, allowing developments such as intelligent signage, and personalized sound, video, lighting… the list goes on. Beacons on physical objects are unlocking interactive content in a live event or retail area by linking them to the Internet of Things.

Experiences that give rise to positive emotions and generate powerful mental imagery in potential customers are incredibly valuable to any brand. Designed well, with a little creative spark, such interactions create a closer bond between the brand and the consumer.

2. Describe complexity without words

Words only go so far in describing your product’s inner workings and the components and other characteristics that set it apart from your competitors. If your business is dependent upon customers understanding and engaging with the technical or mechanical detail of what you do and what you produce, it might be time to invest in a way of accurately visualising these ‘hidden’ assets.

Computer-generated versions of upcoming projects and technologies—especially if delivered in impressive VR or AR consistently win new clients.

Why? Your customers can suddenly see your products as they function, in incredible detail. And this can now be a more inspiring, engaging and cohesive process thanks to the development of interactive digital media such as holographic projections, CGI, 3D modelling, complex photorealistic animations and interactive touchscreen technology.

The outcomes for products that are hard to visualise or demonstrate to potential customers—either because they take no physical form, can’t usually be seen in action, are technically complex, or can’t be brought into meetings—are especially impressive.

3. Make visually uninspiring products eye-catching

Humans are visual creatures and it’s often tricky to make your company stand out at pitches, trade shows and exhibitions. Whatever it is that makes your product unique may not always be immediately obvious, and it’s all too easy to fade into the background.

But showcasing futuristic technologies is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of passers-by and engage potential customers from the get-go.

We’ve developed eye-catching 3D visualisations for Aish Technologies, which accurately show how their anti-rust cathodic protection systems extend the life of submarines, comparing their technology to that of their competitors. Aish say that these visualisations will help them deliver their key marketing messages in face-to-face situations.

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At PAULEY, we’re really excited about the future of experiential marketing. Cameras and facial recognition systems can already be used to determine the gender, ethnicity and emotional reaction of audiences to content on an interactive screen. Imagine if that content could be customized to each person in a sales meeting!

4. Equip sales team to explain products accurately and consistently

State-of-the-art digital technologies – platforms such as mobile apps, Microsoft’s HoloLens, biometric recognition software, virtual reality, and the much-hyped Magic Leap augmented reality – can deliver complex experiences in ways that are reusable, repeatable and reach more customers in a cost effective way.

VR and AR experiences and demonstrations can be delivered with portable technologies. And their digital basis means that content can be easily edited and translated into different languages—useful for companies which want to use the same key sales messages globally.

The kinds of technology we’ve mentioned here have many other business applications beyond experiential marketing. Interactive content can also be used to deliver immersive training, cost-effective simulations and dynamic sales tools.

We’ve created 360-degree training demonstrations, for example, in which live video is streamed into virtual military vehicle cockpits using AR and VR technologies. This gives trainees an ultra-realistic, hands-on experience before they’re ready to engage with the real thing.

When it comes to virtual and augmented reality, the opportunities with experiential marketing are endless!

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Using Beacon Technology to Boost Customer Experience

Beacons are small, physical objects – wireless transmitters that broadcast radio signals short distances. Smartphones and mobile devices can pick up on their signals to receive content. Their use is on the rise across a range of industries.

They have been likened to indoor GPS and, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, beacons can communicate with and send small data packets to smartphones that come into a range of about 50-100 metres. They are low cost and require very little energy.

Within the marketing sector, beacon technology is also known as “proximity marketing” – alluding to its importance in creating timely physical context and location-specific relevance for customers.

The popularity of beacon technology is soaring as smartphones and mobile devices continue to proliferate. A recent study by AirSpace showed that 79% of the brands questioned are planning to implement proximity marketing over the next six months.

So 2015 could be the year that beacon technology hits the big time. And much of the commercial interest in beacon technology so far has come from the retail sector.

Retail

Apple has created its own iBeacons and set out its support for the technology by installing them in all its US stores to help customers seek assistance, alert them if their iPhone is eligible for an upgrade and push information about special deals.

Technology company Iconeme are currently developing the patent-pending VMBeacon – a beacon for use in fashion retail environments. The technology has already been trialled by House of Fraser, Oasis, Hawes & Curtis, and Jaeger. It has just been launched at Ted Baker‘s store in Westfield White City, London – a first for the brand.

How does it work? Customers will need to download the free app and allow push notifications. VMBeacons are inserted into mannequins within the store. When a customer passes a beacon, a push notification is triggered in the associated smartphone app.

These alerts can provide links to the Ted Baker website, or help the customer locate where the mannequin’s garments can be found on the shop floor. The beacons also generate detailed photos and descriptions of what the customer is looking at, and this content can become more interactive too: Shoppers can create look-books, share items with friends on social media, or be encouraged to continue using the app – and shop with the brand – by receiving exclusive offers and rewards.

Beacon technology can also be helpful for encouraging active sales and engagement outside of store opening hours. Mannequins located in window displays could interact with passers-by at all times of day and night.

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Other uses for beacons in retail include automatic acceptance of tickets, loyalty cards and payments. Norwegian startup Unacast is planning to use beacons to provide brands with the opportunity to re-target online ads to consumers based on the actual items they have been looking at in-store.

Education & learning

The potential uses for beacon technology within eLearning are huge. Visitors to museums and art galleries could benefit from using a site-specific app linked to beacons throughout the venue, which could offer a much more interactive experience than traditional signage and audio guides are able to do.

Curators and educators could collate further information for each object or artwork and save it within a beacon. Visitors could then automatically access interviews, music, further description, and video, and even respond to – and interact with – the object.

You can imagine that an app would then allow users to save their favourite pieces and share them with others – turning a potentially boring school trip into a rich, rewarding and more long-lasting experience.

Achieving personal targets would also be a great way to use beacons. They could guide you around the gym for example, delivering your exercise routine to your smartphone or updating your smartwatch as you go.

Customer services

Beacons are already being used to enhance travel and transport services for passengers, especially in locations such as major international airports. A pilot scheme by Emirates is fitting beacons into luggage tags – like a kind of wearable technology for suitcases – to track baggage and help prevent loss.

British Airways has been trialling the devices at key points along the consumer journey to improve customer experience and provide useful information like boarding times. Beacons could also be used at transport hubs to notify passengers of timetable changes, delays, special deals and gate information.

Back on the high street, a Barclays Bank branch in Sheffield is currently trialling beacon technology to help its disabled customers. An application on the customer’s iPhone will recognise the in-store beacon to notify staff that they have entered the building and will require assistance.

Our tips: Making beacon technology work for you

  • Convincing users to download your app is the hard bit. Remember that consumers will download apps, but only as long as it adds genuine value to their experience.
  • Plan how you’ll keep your content fresh. A content management system will allow you to manage all the information in real-time, in a way that’s easily update-able.
  • Once your beacon system is live, be sure to make maximum use of it to gain greater insights into your customers’ behaviour, needs and desires.

We’re always keen to work with companies with grand plans for using next generation digital technologies. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll make them a reality!

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email info@pauley.co.uk.

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Culture-Odyssey

Video Streaming and 3D Integration

Video Streaming and 3D IntegrationThe use of 3D in entertainment and business is currently hitting an all time high. 3D cinema is widely available and large manufacturers such as Samsung have launched 3D ready TV.  Recent collaborations involving computer and Internet giant Microsoft have focused on developing 3D enabled Internet browsers and smooth streaming, High Definition (HD), high quality3D streamed video.  Even the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament was shot in 3D for U.S. audiences with 3D enabled TVs and computers.  With 3D in the mainstream and with the mass markets becoming familiar with the superior experience that 3D technology adds to a variety of media, the timing for integrating 3D with streaming video for online marketing couldn’t be better.
 
Streaming Video
Streaming video online allows Internet users to view and experience video content without having to waste time waiting for an entire video file to download.  The phenomenally popular YouTube is a good example of how this media delivery method can be used to distribute rich content on demand to millions of users world wide every day. The advanced coding and video distribution technologies mean that audiences can experience dynamic and highly engaging content in a fast, smooth, and uninterrupted way. The technicalities of video streaming involve production of a video (pre-recorded or live) which is compressed to send (and decompressed at the other end), and transmitted to a Web server which is capable of delivering the same content to multiple users at once if necessary, and is viewed by the target audience via the use of a media player.  The media player used by the end viewer can be for example one of the many widely available players which work with the most common streaming file formats e.g. Windows Media, RealMedia, QuickTime etc, or downloadable proprietary or other specific players which relate to the particular format e.g. more specialised 3D players.
 
Integrating 3D
 
The widespread domestic and commercial use of the Internet, the wide availability of high bandwidth and fast Internet connections and standard protocols of all kinds, the huge technological advancement of and investment in viewing capabilities, and a mass market that are switched on to and hungry for the benefits of 3D provide the perfect conditions for its integration with video streaming. 3D itself provides a range of benefits which massively enhance any form of communication, presentation, and education.  3D allows concepts or accurate representation of real things e.g. products, components, buildings, vehicles etc to be clearly visualised and experienced in a highly realistic context. The subjects of the 3D animation and visualisation can be demonstrated and experienced like never before because the viewer can navigate them, move around them, view them and operate / work them, and interact with them in a way that allows unparalleled levels of comprehension and true understanding.
 
Application
 
For most business organisations, integration of 3D into streaming video made available via a website presents a major opportunity in marketing communications. Videos incorporating 3D motion graphics and product visualisation can allow website users to experience realistic fly throughs, presentations and the exploration of art and architecture, as well as facilities management tours.  The maximum leverage and added value can be gained from 3D advertising showreels, physics engines, and corporate presentations by making them available online via streaming video. The same technique can even allow website visitors, customers or potential customers to experience real time tours.  This can be an incredibly effective technique, particularly where creating the environment or physically moving the person to the environment being shown is simply too expensive or not financially or physically possible at that moment in time.
 
Adding a dramatic extra dimension to what is already a compelling way of presenting information and ideas over the web is therefore a very powerful sales, communication and educational tool which could provide a strong competitive edge to all organisations that use it.


Read more at www.cultureodyssey.org
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