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30 Jun 2006   10:11:26 am
How to Find Out What Your Customers Really Want
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How do you know what your customers want?

Well, there's many ways of researching your marketplace. However, one
sure-fire method that comes straight from the horses mouth is...

...just ask them!

Customer feedback is woefully neglected in most businesses - which is a
pity because it can be so simple! Especially when it's automated.

All too often people assume that they know what their customers want or are
thinking, when in fact they may be well out of touch.

Setting up customer online feedback is easy - and is usually an extremely valuable
source of information and market research and best of all....Its Free!

For a simple approach to customer feedback or market research,
try the following process...

1)Who? Are you asking existing clients? Potential clients? Ex-Clients. You need to
establish exactly who are you going to target with your feedback - so your feedback
form will be in front of the appropriate people, section of your website etc.

2)What? Establish what you want to know.
Are people happy with your service/products? What could be improved? What they be
prepared to spend on a new item? Define your parameters, such as area, age group etc.
(Remember that the more questions you ask - the fewer people will complete the form.)

3)Why? It is always good policy to let people know why you want the information
and how you intend to use it.

4) When? If you are conducting a survey on customer satisfaction for example, it is a
good idea to collect the data over a period of time and then see how the changes that
you have implemented as a result of the feedback have increased the percentiles
of happy customers. Whether you ask the same questions later or different questions
later or indeed at all is influenced by what you are trying to achieve.

It is assumed of course, that having collected the data, you do actually do something
meaningful with it!

Some 'legal' things to consider...

Obtain permission to use the personal data.

Only use the data in the way that you said you would.

Don't give data to anyone else- unless you have prior permission and a good reason
for doing so.

You can't send faxes, emails or text messages unless the recipient has given their
permission beforehand.



Lastly - A couple of Tips :

1 - Keep it simple
Most online visitors have a lot to do - having to think too much will put them off.
Help them by offering multiple choice instead of encouraging long open-ended
answers.

Factors that retain attention here are multiple choice are easier to complete.

2 - Keep it short.
The shorter - the more people will complete the form. Factors that increase how many
questions you can ask before people switch off(of which you can of course test and measure)
are relationship with respondent, age, relevance of questions(to them), complexity of
questions & time taken to answer them.

Want to know More? Simply call us on 01454 852414 or contact us here :


Join our complementary 30 Minute Tele-Seminar...
"How to find out What your Customers Really Want"

Visit this link to register your place : http://www.mklink.com/free/?source=blog
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
28 Jun 2006   04:38:30 pm
Why have a Blog?
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A 'blog' (weblog) (such as this one) is basically a regularly updated webpage that has links to other websites with relavance to a certain subject. The popularity of blogs has really soared in recent times for a number of very good reasons, not least being that they seem to be able to boost your Google PageRank, your search engine results, raise your web profile, and increase visits to your website.

Blogs generally contain a lot of keyword laden content, and therefore score highly with search engines. The fact that they are updated regularly with fresh content, often daily, means that search engine spiders crawl and index the site more often. The immediacy, and the up to date nature of the new content is appealing to site visitors, and therefore encourages repeat visits to your blog. Over time, this frequent readership can help you to develop a kind of familiarity and rapport with your blog readership, and this can develop into loyalty. Ultimately, interest in your main website is stimulated and blog visitors can become customers.

Providing so much up to the minute information can help you gain 'expert' status with your readership. This will help build trust, and it is well known that people prefer to do business with companies or individuals that they trust.

Blogs are generally written in a conversational, and not blatantly commercial style. This helps lend them credibility and enables you to give your blog, website and company a 'human' element. In a sense, this human element can help you put accross a little of your company values and brand personality in an unbiased way. This gives blog visitors a taste of what to expect of your service, and further builds trust.

Using the blog is often easier than trying to update your website, because it requires no coding or technical expertise - it's as easy to use as an e-mail. Feedback from visitors can be almost instantaneous which is good from a 'test and measure' point of view. Other bloggers also promote your blog by linking to any posts that may interest them or their readers - this amounts to free publicity. In fact, a blog provides cheap marketing for your website and business, and is a very powerful promotional vehicle, both on and offline.

For more information about blogs and online marketing click here.
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
23 Jun 2006   07:49:14 am
Is your website ‘accessible’ enough?
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The implementation of Section 21 of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in October 1999, and further legislation within the DDA in October 2004, means that there is actually a legal obligation for you make your website ‘accessible’ to blind and partially sighted users.

Why bring in this legislation?

For example, there are approximately 2 million people in the UK with a sight problem. 1 million of the 2 million people in the UK with a sight problem could be registered as blind or partially sighted.

Many different technologies are now used to access the web, e.g. computers, mobile phones, palmtop devices and WebTV, different browsers.

Blind and visually impaired people have to read web pages in special ways including software programmes that read web page content through a speaker, or Braille software that translates web pages into Braille so they can be read by touch.

Different eye conditions require web pages to be altered in some way at the point of use, to cater for the individual user, e.g. larger or smaller text, more contrasting colour schemes, or even yellow text on a black background.

So, how can you meet your obligations and make your website accessible?

Unfortunately, the DDA don’t seem to describe in detail how accessibility can be achieved to meet the legal obligation. The American World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of May 1999 are to date the generally accepted standard. You can check for yourself how your website matches up to these standards by going to theW3C Markup validation Service website http://validator.w3.org

It is more than likely that your website is not accessible enough. So, what changes could be made to your website to make it more accessible?

1. Allow the user to choose how they want to receive the page content, e.g. a link to a text version, version with text graphics, or a version with Flash.

2. Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content e.g. provide a text version of content.

3. Provide a textual alternative to images and graphics e.g. describe the ‘function’ of the image/photo in text and/or write a description of an image/photo into the ‘alternative text’ (this text usually displays in a box when you pass your mouse over an image).

4. Do not rely on colour alone to convey information on your website.

5. Use clear, simple language with good grammar.

6. Provide context and orientation information

7. Provide clear navigation systems and, e.g. a site map.

8. Avoid blinking or scrolling text.

If you need mkLINK to help you make your website ‘accessible’ give us a call on 01454 852414 today.
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
19 Jun 2006   01:52:40 pm
Two websites are better than one.
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You may already have a website, so why have another one? Are more visitors to your main website, more genuine leads, increased conversion and more sales good enough reasons? If so, we are talking about a 'microsite'. This is traditionally small website (anything from 4 to 40 pages) that works in tandem with, and is used to drive traffic to your existing website.

Some microsites can be temporary e.g for one-off product launches or business conferences, others are more long term and are generally focused on one specific area of the business. These microsites rely less on aesthetics, although they do have a similar look to your main website, with the main emphasis being on lead generation. Search engine friendliness is the key to the success of these websites, and they are generally extensively optimised and built with the search engines very much in mind. (alt+w)

Microsites not only need to be linked through to the main website, but can also be used to capture vital contact information on the microsite itself. This could be done using just a contact form to request more information, a link for an opt-in newsletter (alt+w), a competition, a promotion, or a free download. This contact information could be linked to a database.

A microsite is relatively fast to produce because of it's size and lesser emphasis on aesthetics, so it can be brought quickly into operation to help with your online marketing effort. It can be very effective in focusing on partuclar market niche or opportunity.

Testing and measuring of content on a microsite is vital and doesn't need to be difficult. Due to the small size of the site, content and copy can be changed frequently to generate the maximum number of leads. Using an analytical statistics package on the microsite (and on your main website) can help yopu to accurately measure and manage the whole thing effectively.

mkLINK have acome up with an idea which will even take aaway the initial risk and up-front spend of putting a microsite together. With the mkLINK results based pay-per-lead microsites, mkLINK put in the development work and take the risk on the microsite, all you do is wait and pay for the results as and when they are delivered. More information about results based marketing and microsites, plus examples of effective microsites can be found here. (alt+w)
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
17 Jun 2006   05:28:11 pm
Training
Wre're launching a free training call on Thursday 22nd June at 11am. Please feel free to call in. Details & REGISTRATION are here : http://www.mklink.com/free/
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
13 Jun 2006   01:35:22 pm
How important is it really to be listed in Google?
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Google is still the UK's most popular search engine, as well as being the most visited website in the UK. In May this year, monitoring firm Hitwise measured the company’s online share of the search market to be 77%. Google’s website here in the UK gets more than twice as many visits as Microsoft’s Hotmail website (ranked number 2). These figures clearly speak for themselves – in terms of having your website(s) listed in a search engine, getting your website to come up in Google searches should be your most pressing challenge.

The closest search engine competitor to Google is Yahoo.

Search engines in the UK seem to be used for different things, and UK users seem to have identified a ‘positioning’ for each. For instance, Google seems to be used mainly to navigate and search the web, Yahoo for its content, and MSN for communication purposes.

Although Google is the dominent search engine, it’s worth bearing in mind some of the benefits of others, especially The Open Directory Project or DMOZ (Directory Mozilla) http://www.dmoz.org . It is free to be listed DMOZ, although it may take several months for this to occur after submission. DMOZ is operated by volunteer web editors and reviewers, and its listings are used by many other search engines and directories, including Google. When submitting to DMOZ, it is worth making sure that your website is completed, and that it has interesting and relevant content, otherwise you may risk having your website rejected.
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
05 Jun 2006   02:28:47 pm
Little things are important - ALT tags and their uses.
ALT tags or 'alternative tags' are basically labels that describe the images in your web pages, or give further details about them or the destination of a hyperlinked image. You can see them when you pass your mouse over an image, and sometimes they are visible before the image appears as the page downloads. ALT tags are very often missed out of pages altogether, but these tags are more important than you think. The two main areas where they come into their own are, (1) with the search engines, and (2) with the accessibility of your website.

1. ALT tags and search engines.
Search engines need to recognise the content of your web pages in order to be able to categorize them, and return information about them in searches. Search engines are unable to index the images on your web pages, because they are a solid files not made of text. To get around this, ALT tags should be added to the images. Better still, these ALT tags should be made up of 2 or 3 important keywords which reflect the subject matter of the text content on that particular page. In this way, search engines will more easily be able to index the page contents, and the contents will be less likely to fall fowl of the search engine algorithms (rules/decision tree).

2. Accessibility
Your web pages now have to be accessible to people with various disabilities. Visually
impaired people use text readers on the Internet. These text readers also cannot read
images, unless they have ALT tags attached to them.

It's also possible that some visitors to your website may have their browser's graphics
turned off, or they may be visiting the site with a text-only browser. The inclusion of ALT
tags will provide much needed information to them.
Category : General | Posted By : mklink | Comments[0] | Trackbacks [0]
 
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