Social media is no doubt an important tool in business. The cutting edge of social media as a marketing tool is how convenient it is to engage users. Most social media platforms allow you to interact with users through pictures and videos, which stimulate them to take action.
Social Media vs Website: Why Brands Think Social Media Pages Can Replace A Website Studies show that 44% of small businesses rely on social media to create brand awareness while another 41% relies on it to create revenue. This is most likely the reason why some brands are starting to believe that social media can replace domain names and websites. Is it possible for a business to replace the domain name and website with social media handles? Yes. Is it advisable? No. Small businesses should have fully functional social media pages, but they must never replace a website. We explain this in the following social media vs website discussion:
Not All Your Clients Are On Social Media As popular as some social media platforms are, some people still prefer not to be on them due to many reasons. Some find it too intrusive and would rather keep their personal lives private while some do not have the time. Some people, especially those in the older generations do not even know how it works or how to use it. What if your potential clients fall into one or more of these categories? How would you engage them? There are currently over 2 billion social media users in the world but those are a mere fraction compared to the entire world’s population. What if your client falls into the category of people who find social media intrusive? How will you tell them about your products and services except through a website?
Social Media Policies Are Always Changing The creators of social media apps usually have certain value propositions in mind when creating these apps. With time, they keep analyzing feedback and consumer behavior to know which policies to review. This happens a lot and could affect your business in so many ways. If you are part of the 41% of businesses who rely on social media to generate revenue, then this might become a serious problem for you. Take, for instance, you sell jewelry and usually post videos of your satisfied clients wearing jewelry bought from you on your Instagram story to gain new leads. Imagine that you have been doing it for close to a year and have been getting leads only for Instagram to take down the story feature and replace it with something else. You may lose a lot of clients due to this. If you had a website, on the other hand, you can effectively share videos of clients on it. And unlike the Instagram story, which disappears after 24 hours, it will always be there until you decide to take it down.
This shows that there are no copyright laws or restrictions in terms of using a name that is already in use. It would result in a serious problem if one of your clients mistakenly interacted with one of these lookalike accounts only to find out that it is a fake. Perhaps, they have already sent money to the account provided by the hacker and have fallen victim to their scheming. They will find it hard to believe that you had nothing to do with it and this might lose some of the trust they have in you. With a website and domain name, it is very easy for you to put out content that most describes what your business is all about. You can also include a live chat feature in case any clients have questions. All of these cannot be done with just social media; they require the use of a website.
Social Media Does Not Improve Business Value A lot of people grow their businesses simply to have the pleasure of selling off the business when it has attained its optimum level. Or when they no longer have a need for it. In order to sell your business, you must know its value and be able to prove it to the prospective buyer. This is where assets like having a website come into play. Factors like leads, web traffic, blog, and inbound links are bound to increase the value of your business. The best way to promote the value of your business in case you need to sell is by having a fully functional website.
Social Media Gives You Less Control A high percentage of people who use social media for their business use it as an inbound marketing tool. It is actually a tool that really works as a lot of users rank social media as their primary means of finding inspiration on which products to buy. A major limitation of using social media for business is that you have to adhere strictly to all their policies. You might even be required to give them a percentage of the proceeds generated from sales leads they have generated for you. Even when you need to run giveaways or online contests, it is a must for you to abide by their rules.
Another problem is how easy it is for social media authorities to lock a social media page if they believe that you are doing something wrong. All of these situations are completely avoidable with a website. Your web host would never force you to abide by their rules. You can carry out sales of products via your website, customers can track their orders via your website and you can also analyze trends in consumer behavior from your website. This is not possible with social media. A website allows you to take full charge of your online marketing process.
Social Media Does Not Enable The Use Of Analytics Tools Tools like Google Analytics to allow you to know how your website is doing. It will show what leads were generated and their respective sources, the traffic on your website and the conversion rates of visitors, etc. It also gives you insight into consumer behavior, the locations they search from, the keywords they use, the kinds of devices they use to conduct searches, and what they do with the search results. The essence of analytics tools is to know how your website is performing and also to find out what users do when they are on your website. Although a lot of businesses still underestimate the importance of web analytics as a business tool, more tech-savvy businesses are incorporating it into their digital marketing strategy.
It would be highly impossible to measure these metrics on social media, thus impeding the growth of your business. Your business will only grow if you know what your consumers need and the best way to meet those needs. Social media is unable to provide you with the metrics you need to push your business to the next level.
Advertising Is Not Free On Social Media Despite the fact that it is free to open most social media accounts, it is not free to promote businesses on them. In order to create a Facebook page, you do not need to pay any amount of money. However, before your posts can be shared as a sponsored page on other people’s timelines, you have to pay some money. Though it is usually relatively cheap and can be custom-fitted to your budget, the bottom line is that you need to pay. Websites, on the other hand, offer the opportunity for free advertising in the form of search engine optimization. It is absolutely free and all you have to do for your webpage to rank among the search engine results is to create relevant content; content that matches the words searchers are looking for. Search engines are really important in the growth of businesses. This survey shows that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. And 47% of people click on one of the first three listings.
Social Media VS Website: Conclusion Finally, the more you try to compare social media vs website, the more you start to see that both have different functions and one cannot be replaced by the other. However, you should consider linking your social media pages to your website to increase your web traffic. And share engaging content on your social media pages after putting it on your website. James Cummings is a leading digital marketing expert, brand analyst, and business psychologist. He’s an experienced senior manager who has worked closely with global brands to deliver staffing solutions. He has interfaced at board level with FTSE 100 companies and successfully managed multiple web projects across different niches to their full cycle. Working with a team of top-level digital media professionals from around the globe, James’ WordPress portfolio currently spans over 40 properties.
Each day thousands of mobile apps are published to the Google Play and Apple App Stores. Some of these mobile apps are games, others are social networks, and many are e-commerce apps. All of these apps, if professionally built, should follow a similar mobile app development process. At BHW, we have built over 350 web and mobile apps and in this article, I will outline the strategy, design, and development processes we follow.
Each app is different and our methodologies are always evolving, but this is a fairly standard process when developing mobile apps. This mobile app development process typically includes idea, strategy, design, development, deployment, and post-launch phases.
As trite it sounds, all great apps began as ideas. If you don’t have an app idea, the best place to start is to train yourself to always think of things in terms of problems and potential solutions. You want your brain to instinctively ask “Why do we do things this way?” or “Is there a better way to solve this problem?” If you can identify a problem or market inefficiency, you are halfway to your idea!
The next thing to do is understand why this problem exists and think about why nobody else has made an app to solve this problem previously. Talk to others with this problem. Immerse yourself in the problem space as much as possible. Once you have a complete grasp of the problem, begin to evaluate how a mobile app could solve the problem.
This is where having some understanding of what mobile apps can do is extremely valuable. We are frequently asked, “Is this even possible?” Fortunately, the answer is often yes, but this answer must be sound. You are about to invest a considerable amount of time and money into an app, now is the time to challenge your idea’s validity and viability.
Once you have an idea, you need to plan for your app’s success. One of the best places to start is by identifying your competition. See if any other apps serve a similar purpose and look for the following:
The number of installs – See if anyone is using these apps. Ratings and reviews – See if people like these apps and what they like/dislike about them. Company history – See how these apps have changed over time and what sort of challenges they faced along the way. Try to see what they did to grow their user base.
There are two main goals of this process. First, learn as much as you can for free. Making mistakes is time consuming, frustrating, and expensive. Often, you have to try a few approaches before getting it right. Why not save yourself a few iterations, by learning lessons from your competitors? The second is to understand how hard it will be to compete in the marketplace. Are people hungry for a new solution? Is there some niche not being filled by the existing options? Understand what gaps exist and tailor your solution to meet them. If your idea is completely new, find other “first to market” apps and study how they educated consumers about their new product.
Unless you just enjoy building apps for their own sake, you are probably hoping to make money on your mobile app. There are several methods of monetization that could work, including in-app purchases, subscription payments, premium features, ad-revenue, selling user data, and traditional paid apps. To determine which is best for your app, look to see what the market expects to pay and how they expect to pay for similar services. You also need to consider at what point you begin monetizing your app. Far too many apps (particularly startups) skip this step and have a hard time later turning a profit.
This step in the mobile app development process is all about identifying the biggest challenges you will face when marketing your app. Assuming you have a reliable app development and app design team, your biggest hurdles will likely be driving app adoption. There are thousands of beautiful and quite useful apps on the app stores that simply go unused. At this point, you need to understand what your marketing budget and approach will be. In some cases (like internal-use apps or B2B apps) you might not even need marketing.
Road Map (MVP)
The final stage of the strategy process is defining your app’s roadmap. The goal of this process is to understand what your app could one day become and what it needs to be successful on day one. This day one version is often called your Minimum Viable Product (MVP). During this process, it can be helpful to write on a whiteboard all of the things you want your app to do. Then begin ranking these items by priority. Consider what your app’s core functionality will be, what is needed to gain users, and what can be added later. If there are some features you think users might want, they are likely great candidates for later versions. As you gain users with your MVP, you can solicit feedback on what additional features are desired. App monitoring (covered later in this article) can also assist in this process.
Information architecture is the process in which you decide what data and functionality need to be presented within your app and how that data and functionality is organized. Typically, we begin this process by writing down a list of features we want the app to perform and a list of what needs to be displayed somewhere in the app. These are the basic building blocks with which we will build the wireframes.
Next, we begin creating screens and assigning each function and data. It is ok if somethings live in multiple places, but you need to make sure each item has a home. This process often takes place on whiteboards or paper initially. You want to make changes here, rather than later in the process because it is much cheaper to erase some marks than to rewrite code. Once you have several screens drawn up, begin considering your app’s workflows.
Workflows are the pathways users can travel within your app. Consider each of the things you want your users to be able to do and see how many clicks are needed to complete that action. Make sure each click is intuitive. If something takes a few clicks to accomplish, that might be fine, but it should not take a few clicks to perform common tasks. As you find problems with your workflows, update your wireframes and try again. Remember to run through all of your features in each iteration, just to make sure you did not increase the difficulty of one action in an attempt to improve another.
Click-through models help you test your wireframes and workflows. They are a way to experience your wireframes on a phone for more realistic testing. For example, our clients simply receive a link, which when opened on their phone allows them to click through the wireframe. Although the app has no functionality at this point, they can click on each page in the app and begin testing the app’s navigation. As you find issues in this step, make changes with your wireframes and iterate until you are satisfied.
Style guides are the building blocks of your app’s design. Having a sound style guide will help tremendously with your app’s usability. You don’t want your call to action button on one screen to be at the bottom and blue, but green and in the header on another screen. By having a consistent design language, users are more likely to be comfortable within your app.
There is a lot that goes into determining an app’s style guide. You need to consider who you are and who your customers will be. Is your app going to be used at night? Then maybe a dark theme will work best, as to not blind your users. Will it be used mostly by busy employees? Try to keep clutter to a minimum and get your main point across. An experienced designer or design team has a wide range of output and can deliver an app that is a great fit for you and your customers. The output of this phase is a set of colors, fonts, and widgets (buttons, forms, labels, etc.) that will be drawn from in the design of your app.
Rendered design is the process of taking your wireframes and replacing the grayscale elements with elements from your style guide. There should be a rendered screen for each wireframe screen. Try to stay true to your style guide in this process, but you don’t have to be dogmatic about it. If you find yourself wanting a new or changed style, feel free to update or amend your style guides. Just make sure your design is consistent when this stage is complete.
Rendered Click-through models
Once you have all your screens rendered, return to your click-through model application and test your app again. This is the step in the mobile app development process where you want to take your time. Although a considerable amount of effort has already gone into the app after this point changes can become increasingly costly. Think of this as reviewing a floor plan before your home’s concrete is poured. Fortunately, mobile app development is a bit more adaptive than construction, but thinking of it in these terms can be the most cost-effective.
After having put in so much effort into the form and function of your app, this vision must be properly realized by your development team. It always amazes me how often this step in the mobile app development process goes poorly. Perhaps this is due to many organizations and agencies only providing design or development services or the sometimes combative relationship between designers and developers. Whatever the reason, I highly recommend finding a team that can provide both design and development services and can properly handle this step in the process.
Part of what helps ensure a smooth transition and exact implementation is the proper use of the available tools. We like using an application called Zeplin, which helps developers quickly grab style guides for the design. But, this is not foolproof. Zeppelin is a great tool, but sometimes its guides are not exact or not the best implementation (it can use explicit dimensions, rather than dynamic ones for example). In those situations, it is immensely beneficial if your developers can also use design applications (such as Sketch or Photoshop). The important thing here is that your team does not simply best guess at dimensions, hex values (colors), and positioning. Your design team put in tremendous effort to ensure things were properly aligned and positioned. Your development team’s goal should always be a pixel-perfect implementation.
High-level Technical Design (Tech Stack)
There are numerous approaches, technologies, and programming languages that can be used to build a mobile app. Each with its strengths and shortcomings. Some might be cheaper to use, but are less performant, whereas others might take longer to implement and be overkill. The worst possibility is building on a dying or unreliable technology stack. If you make this mistake, you might have to rebuild your app or pay a premium for developers moving forward. That is why having a trusted development partner that is seasoned in making these decisions is vital in this process.
Front-end (the mobile app)
For front-end development, there are 3 approaches. They are platform-specific native, cross-platform native, and hybrid. Here is a brief overview of each approach and some articles that delve into each with greater details.
Platform-specific Native – Apps built with this approach are written separately for each mobile platform. The code can’t be reused between Android and iOS, but these apps can be fully optimized for each platform. The UI can look entirely native (so it will fit in with the OS) and the app should work fluidly. This is often the most expensive approach but is very tried and tested.
Back-end (Web API & Server)
The server is responsible for much of your app’s performance and scalability. The technologies used here are similar to those used to power web-based applications. Here are a few things you have to decide before writing code:
Development & Iteration
Sound mobile app development is an iterative process. You have likely heard the term “sprints” or “agile methodology”. This means that you break up all development work into smaller milestones and build your app in a series of cycles. Each cycle will include planning, development, testing, and review. There are entire books written on this process, so this article will just provide a brief overview of each step. If your company elects to use another process, these steps will be quite similar, but the order and length of each might vary.
The planning phase of a sprint involves dividing up the list of tasks to be implemented during the current iteration. Each task needs clearly defined requirements. Once these requirements are understood by developers, they will often estimate the time needed to complete each task, so that the tasks can be evenly distributed to ensure a balanced workload during the sprint.
Developers also begin planning their approach to solving their assigned problems during this phase. Skilled software developers find ways to intelligently reuse code throughout an application. This is especially important for implementing styles and shared functionality. If a design needs to be changed (believe me, something will change), you don’t want to have to go and update code in numerous places. Instead, well-designed software can be changed in select places to make these sorts of sweeping changes.
During the development phase, your development team will begin implementing the styles and functionality of your app. As they are completed, they are assigned back to a project manager or QA tester for review. Good project managers can fully optimize developer workloads during this process by properly redistributing assignments throughout the sprint.
It is important that your development team fully understand the goals of the application as a whole and for the specific feature, they are working on. Nobody is more in-tune with that particular feature than the assigned developer. They should understand the intent of the requirements. If something starts to not make sense, it is often developers who will be the first to let you know.
During development, we use a platform called Hockey App. It allows us to privately and securely distribute the in-development version of the app to testers, clients, and other developers. Hockey automatically notifies users of new builds (so everyone is testing the latest & greatest), provides crash reporting and can ensure only approved testers have access to your app. It is a great way to keep everyone up to speed on the progress. During development, we try to update Hockey once or twice a week.
Most testing should be performed by non-developers or at least people who are not your app’s primary developer. This will help ensure a more genuine testing experience. Several types of testing should occur during each sprint. These typically include the following:
Functional Testing – Testing to ensure the feature works as described in the requirements. Usually, a QA team will have a test plan with a list of actions and the desired app behavior. Usability Testing – Testing to ensure the feature is user-friendly and is as intuitive as possible. Often it is helpful to bring in new testers for a “first-use” experience during this step.
Performance Testing – Your app might work perfectly, but if it takes 20 seconds to display a simple list, nobody is going to use it. Performance testing is typically more important in later sprints, but keep an eye on the app’s responsiveness as you move along.
Fit and Finish Testing – Just because the design phase is complete past, doesn’t mean you can lock your designers in a closet. Designers should review each feature and ensure that their vision was implemented as described in the design. This is another reason why having one agency for both design and development is so beneficial. Regression Testing – Remember that one feature from the previous sprint? Don’t assume it still works, just because you tested it last month. Good QA teams will have a list of tests to perform at the end of each sprint, which will include tests from previous sprints.
Device-Specific Testing – There are tens of thousands of devices and operating system combinations in the world. When testing, make sure you try out your app on numerous screen sizes and OS versions. Some tools can help automate this, such as Google’s Firebase, but always test the app on at least a handful of physical devices. User Acceptance Testing – This is testing performed by either the app owner or future app users. Remember who you are building this app for and get their feedback throughout the process. If a feature passes all the above tests but fails this one, what use is it?
As problems are discovered in this phase, reassign tasks back to developers so that the problems can be resolved and the issues closed out. Once testing has been completed and each task is done, move on to review.
At the end of each sprint talk with each of the stakeholders and determine how the sprint went. If there were difficulties, try to eliminate similar issues from future sprints. If things went well in one area, try to apply them elsewhere. No two projects are the same and everyone should always be advancing in their roles, so aim to improve, while you iterate. Once the review is complete, begin again with the planning phase and repeat this process until the app is done!
At this point, your app should be fully testable and feature complete (at least for the MVP). Before you spend a sizable amount of time and money on marketing, take the time to test your app with a sample of your potential users. There are two main ways to go about this.
Focus groups involve interviewing with a tester or group of testers who have never seen the app before and conduct an interview. You want to understand who these testers are, how they learn about new apps, and if they use similar apps already. Try to get some background info out of them before even getting into your product. Next, let your testers begin using your app. They should not be coached during this process. Instead, let them use the app as if they had just found it in the app store. See how they use the app, and look for common frustrations. After they are done using the app, get their feedback. Remember to not be too strongly guided by anyone tester, but combine feedback and make intelligent decisions using all available feedback.
Beta Testing In addition to, or instead of focus groups, you can do a beta launch of your app. Beta tests involve getting a group of testers to use your app in the real world. They use the app just as if it had launched but in much smaller numbers. Often these beta testers will be power users, early adopters, and possibly your best customers. Make sure they feel valued and respected. Give them ample opportunities to provide feedback and let them know when and how you are changing the app. Also, beta testing is a great time to see how your app performs on various devices, locations, operating systems, and network conditions. You must have sound crash reporting for this step. It does you no good if something goes wrong, but is not discovered and diagnosed.
After these extended review periods, it is common to have a final development sprint to address any newly discovered issues. Continue beta testing during this process and ensure that your crash and issue reports are declining. Once you have the all-clear from your testers, it is time to begin preparing for deployment.
Deployment There are two main components to deploying your mobile app into the world. The first involves deploying your web server (API) into a scalable production environment. The second is deploying your app to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Web API (Server) Most mobile apps require a server back-end to function. These web servers are responsible for transferring data to and from the app. If your server is overloaded or stops working, the app will stop working. Properly configured servers are scalable to meet your current and potential user base, while not being needlessly expensive. This is where the “cloud” comes in. If your server is deployed to a scalable environment (Amazon Web Services, RackSpace, etc.), then it should be able to better handle spikes in traffic. It is not difficult to scale for most mobile apps, but you want to ensure your team knows what they are doing or your app could fall apart, just when it gets popular.
App Stores Submitting your apps to the app stores is a moderately involved process. You need to make sure your apps are properly configured for release, fill out several forms for each store, submit screenshots and marketing materials, and write a description. Additionally, Apple manually reviews all apps submitted to its app store. They may request you make changes to your app to better comply with their regulations. Often, you can discuss these changes with Apple and get them to accept your app as-is. Other times, you might have to make changes to be granted entrance. Once your app is submitted, it will be live in Google later that day and in Apple within a few days, assuming everything goes smoothly.
It would be incredibly naive to think that the mobile app development process ends when the app is shipped. Go look at any even moderately popular apps and you will see a long history of app updates. These updates include fixes, performance improvements, changes, and new features. Thorough monitoring is essential to best understand what sort of updates are needed. Here are a few things you should be monitoring.
Crashes Numerous libraries can be used to reliably track app crashes. These libraries include information about what the user was doing, what device they were on, and plenty of technical info that is crucial for your development team in resolving the problem. Apps can be configured to send an email/text/alert when crashes occur. These crashes can be viewed and triaged accordingly.
Modern app analytics systems are a treasure trove of information. They can help you understand who is using your apps (age, gender, location, language, etc.) and how they are using it (time of day, time spent in-app, screens viewed in-app, etc.). Some even allow you to view heat maps of your app, so you know what buttons on each screen are clicked most often. These systems provide an invaluable glimpse into how your app is being used. Use this information to best understand where to invest future efforts. Don’t build onto portions of the app that are seldom utilized, but invest where there are action and the largest potential for growth.
One vital metric not covered by the previous two monitoring categories is your apps technical performance, i.e. how quickly it works. Any system we deploy has extensive performance monitoring in place. We can track how many times an action occurred and how long that action took. We use this to find areas ripe for optimization. We also put alerts in place to let us know if a particular action is slower than expected, so we can quickly look to see if there are any issues. These performance tools typically have dash-boarding, reporting, and alerting functionality included.
App Store Management
App store ratings and reviews are extremely important, particularly for newer apps. Whenever a new review is left on your listing, make sure to engage the reviewer. Thank users who give you great reviews and try to assist those who were frustrated. I have seen hundreds of poor reviews changed to 5-stars just with a little customer service. Users don’t expect app developers and owners to provide a hands-on level of service and that help goes a long way in boosting your online reputation.
Further Iteration and Improvement
The purpose of all this monitoring is to know what you need to do next. Most apps are never really done. There are always new features that can be added and things that can be improved upon. It would be incredibly wasteful to blindly build on your app. Use the information you have received from your users and your monitoring platforms. Then repeat parts of this mobile app development process (don’t worry, many steps are much easier each after the first pass). Continue to improve your app, your conversion rates, your install base, and of course your revenue. Mobile apps are fluid. Take advantage of that by continuing to grow and improve.
The mobile app development process might seem overwhelming and involved. There are a lot of steps and difficult decision making is required along the way. But, it is an extremely rewarding process and can be quite lucrative. Also, there might be some temptation to skips steps in this process, but this guide is built upon years of experience working with app owners that chose to skip certain steps.
If you are looking to build your next (or first) mobile app and need help with one or more of these steps, you’re in luck! Whether you are a startup or Fortune 50 company, we have the team and knowledge needed to deliver a fantastic mobile app. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
The path to success is paved with obstacles. Knowing what your business’ strengths and weaknesses are is key to sorting those roadblocks out efficiently. The goal of a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis is to give you better insights into your brand. With that information, you’ll be ready to tackle a wide range of obstacles. In this article, we’ll break down how this technique can benefit your business and then go over the four steps to executing it, including examples.
Let’s get started!
What Is a SWOT Analysis (And What Are Its Benefits)?
“SWOT” is a fancy acronym for a process that involves taking a close look at your business or brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You’re probably already aware of what several of them are, but breaking all this information down into digestible points can give you a new perspective.
With a thorough SWOT analysis, you can gain insights such as:
What business opportunities are ripe to be exploited
What areas of your business need an overhaul
Which of your competitors represents the most immediate threat
You can apply this technique to a specific area of your business – such as your marketing strategy or product development – or to your brand as a whole. Either way, to get the most out of a SWOT analysis, you need to dig deep. If you focus on superficial aspects, or you don’t involve the right people in the process, you won’t get much out of it.
How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis of Your Brand (In 4 Steps)
Unless you run a one-person operation, you need additional team members in the room when you undertake a SWOT analysis. Visual aids that enable everyone to keep track of relevant points are also critical, whether you’re using a videoconferencing tool or in a physical room.
You’ll also want to put aside at least a couple of hours if you’re going to conduct a thorough analysis, which is precisely the point of the SWOT technique. Let’s kick it off on a positive note by talking about strengths.
Step 1: Break Down Your Strengths
Every business has at least one element that gives it an edge over its competitors, no matter how small it might be. Knowing what those advantages are is vital, so you’re ready to seize opportunities when the time is right.
It’s important that the strengths you identify are unique to your brand and not areas your competitors also excel in. Additionally, don’t forget to factor in elements such as access to resources, as well as efficient and effective processes.
To illustrate how a SWOT analysis works, we’re going to focus on a real-life business example – Netflix. It’s the dominant player in online streaming, but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have any weaknesses or face any threats.
Some of Netflix’s strengths include:
The first-mover advantage over other streaming companies
Vast swaths of data about the content its users like
The ability to produce content at a fast pace other streaming services haven’t been able to match
Excellent brand recognition
A SWOT analysis begins with your brand’s strengths because they are often the easiest to break down. We all like to focus on the positives but to get a clear picture, you need to be willing to look at the other side of the coin.
Step 2: Lay Out Your Weaknesses
Laying out your brand’s weaknesses is not an exercise in self-deprecation. What it should be is a study in self-reflection that enables you to figure out in which ways your business is vulnerable.
Some areas you might consider examining are processes that are lacking productivity and any elements of your brand that might prevent leads from converting. Be honest, as holding back will only hurt you in the long run.
These days, Netflix commands a 19 percent share of the global streaming marketplace. In the US, it reigns king with about an 87 percent share. Those two figures paint a positive picture, but once you look closer, weaknesses become apparent, such as:
It’s burning through cash at an incredibly fast pace to keep their content output going
It faces difficulty renewing licenses for key properties
Its content library varies wildly in quality depending on the region you’re watching from
It’s no longer the only viable name in town when it comes to streaming
Its interface is sub-par
It’s also important to understand that strengths and weaknesses shift over time. In its infancy, Netflix’s biggest weakness was lacking a broad content library. These days, that’s no longer the case. However, it does face some difficulty in renewing essential licenses because it has a lot more competition.
One of the main takeaways here is that a SWOT analysis isn’t something you do just once. As your brand evolves, you’ll need to return to the drawing board often if you want to make sure your business is on the right track.
Step 3: Define Your Opportunities
The first two steps of a SWOT analysis are an exercise in introspection. Once you have that information, you can begin to build plans around it, starting with opportunities for growth.
Opportunities can certainly include innovative technologies and products. However, also keep your eyes open for new target audiences, small advantages over competitors you can seize and expand, and even solutions to your weaknesses.
Taking into account Netflix’s strengths and weaknesses, some of its opportunities might include:
Publishing new shows and movies at a rate competitor can’t match
Using its wealth of data to create highly-targeted content to maximize user satisfaction
Focus on redesigning its interface to make it easier to navigate their library and find content
Targeting regions where other streaming services don’t have a foothold yet to consolidate their market share
When it comes to business opportunities, it’s important to keep an open mind but to be realistic. As an example, an out-of-the-box idea would be for Netflix to start investing in Virtual Reality (VR) content.
This is an exciting idea – Netflix has the cash, they can attract top talent to develop content, and they have the technical infrastructure to deliver it. The problem is, VR adoption is still very low due to costs and hardware requirements.
Diverting money away from mainstream content towards VR productions might be an interesting bet in a few years. However, for now, it could leave Netflix vulnerable as other players are also starting to sink cash into streaming. Remember to weigh the potential risks and rewards for every opportunity you propose.
Step 4: Consider Your Threats
Remember how we talked about roadblocks at the beginning of this article? In a SWOT analysis, they’re called “threats”.
Pinpointing your threats requires attention to your industry at large. New competitors, changes in consumer trends and behaviors, the sustainability of your processes, and the emergence of new technologies are all factors to consider.
Although Netflix remains in a solid position, the company is facing some evident threats, such as:
New streaming services constantly entering the field
Other prominent players starting to sink massive amounts of money into original content
Customers who dislike the idea of paying for multiple streaming services
The potential for stagnation if it can’t keep up its aggressive content output
Netflix hasn’t been the only big-name streaming service for a long time now. However, competition has never been fiercer. Players such as Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video might eat further into Netflix’s market share.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most people don’t have unlimited budgets for online subscriptions. At some point, a significant number of subscribers might have to decide which platforms to prioritize. Moreover, in some markets, streaming may have already reached peak penetration. Netflix may need to compete in regional markets if it wants to continue to grow.
However, none of these threats is anything new. There’s a reason why Netflix is famous for its aggressive investment in original content. It understands its vulnerabilities and leverages its strengths (in this case, tons of cash at hand) to offset them.
Although you might not have coffers the same size as Netflix’s, you can certainly learn from its example. If you understand what makes your business unique and what the current landscape in your field is, you will have a much easier time outmaneuvering the competition.
Every business has unique strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what those are is vital if you want to seize opportunities and assess threats effectively. The better you know your brand, the higher-quality products, and services you’ll be able to deliver.
The concept of a SWOT analysis is simple, and involves just four steps:
Break down your strengths.
Layout your weaknesses.
Define your opportunities.
Consider your threats.
Do you have any questions about how to conduct a SWOT analysis for your brand? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by Wan Wei / shutterstock.com
Shared to VMG on February 18, 2020, by Will Morris in Marketing – Will Morris is a staff writer at WordCandy. When he’s not writing about WordPress, he likes to gig his stand-up comedy routine on the local circuit.
RESPONSIVE WEBSITE DESIGN IS ABOUT DEVELOPING WEBSITES WITH OPTIMAL VIEWING NO MATTER THE DEVICE BEING USED.
Devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones all view a website differently. A responsive website allows visitors to experience the ease of reading, the ability to navigate, optimized graphics and content for faster loading no matter which device they are using. In today’s world of mobile-friendly, a responsive website ensures that your visitors will see your website in a clean and organized format without losing access to important information or have to worry about being able to read your website cleanly.
HOW IS RESPONSIVE DESIGN IMPORTANT TO TODAY’S USERS?
Over 46% of internet traffic is accessed using a mobile device such as a smartphone with social media and videos taking up the lion’s share. In addition, Apps from the Google Play and Apple App Store see a significant share of use. With the increase of mobile usage, websites must also respond to the demand and make it easier for users to find the information they need in a format that works. Responsive design taking over from mobile apps for smaller businesses to ensure visitors can read the content on their mobile devices.
RESPONSIVE DESIGN INCREASES CONVERSIONS
According to Google Analytics, if your site visitors have difficulty navigating your website, then the chances are over 60% will leave and go elsewhere. However, if the site is easy to navigate, then more than 70% are more likely to stay on your website.
Responsive web design has resulted in websites being able to be accessed everywhere so by ensuring your website is using a responsive design, your visitors will be able to view your site correctly across multiple platforms.
Database marketing gives your business a competitive edge. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) dashboard like Microsoft Dynamics can be used to leverage marketing techniques that drive sales. Too often there is a divide between operations, marketing, and sales teams. But a good CRM can pull these teams together with a singular focus—to target new clients, bring them on board, and retain them. Here’s how this can work.
WHY USE CRM IN MARKETING?
If your business is still using an Excel spreadsheet to track leads, or Outlook email to contact them, you are absolutely missing out on the efficiencies that come with modern CRM.
While we don’t mean to say these two tools aren’t terrific, we know that there are improved efficiencies in today’s CRM software that you might not be taking advantage of.
One benefit is that you can schedule automated drip campaigns to educate potential clients by sending them helpful content periodically. The goal in these instances is to stay in front of prospects, so they think of you first when they’re ready to buy. Eliminating manual processes is a huge time saver that allows sales to do what they do best (sell) and marketing to focus on the message.
That’s just one example of how CRM will increase your closed deals over time. You can also use it as a customer service tool to help your operations team stay on top of their client retention efforts.
But wait—there’s more.
HOW TO USE A CRM IN MARKETING
You can segment a large database into regions, which is incredibly helpful if your sales teams are responsible for geographic territories. Imagine running a report on how many businesses are in a region, how many of those companies have been contacted in the last six months, and whether or not those contacts converted into sales. If you’re trying to motivate a sales team, a simple report on prospecting effectiveness could go a long way toward that goal.
The functional reporting mechanisms found in Microsoft Dynamics are efficient and easy-to-use. We’ve found these tools not only help drive sales activities but also create a real sense of transparency around client interactions that improves overall company performance.
If you’re running an email campaign, Microsoft Dynamics can show you how many prospects opened your email, along with the click-through rate for any call to action messaging. Marketing teams will be able to track this data and hone their marketing messages around what resonates best in a particular market. Then, if marketing has a message that works, and the sales team is following up on that messaging – BaZinga! – You are going to improve your closed deals.
Here is the workflow on a typical automated campaign:
Select a targeted prospecting list
Develop the content to send
Design a pleasing template for use in the email blast
Schedule the campaign
Analyze the click-through rate
Leverage the sales team to call leads
Measure the effectiveness of the campaign
Clean out any unsubscribed or bounced emails
Schedule the next campaign
Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Are you starting to see how a CRM in marketing can be a great integrator in your business? When you look at it this way, you’ll quickly understand that CRM is a great investment with a clear ROI. These platforms pay for themselves in closed revenue.
YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE DATA
So there’s only one tiny snippet of bad news – these efforts are only going to be as good as the data you’re utilizing. When you begin integrating a CRM in marketing, we typically suggest a list clean up before dropping all those Excel sheets into the platform. This is a foundational necessity for any future marketing and sales prospecting campaigns.
The keyword for using a CRM in marketing is “data,” of course. It’s a good idea to designate one person in your organization to manage database administrative tasks such as list uploads or report generation. That person will help you control the flow of information between marketing, sales, and operations so that the database has some consistency. Consider the CRM your link to a goldmine of potential business, so having someone available to set standards around data capture is not a bad idea. That way, even though your sales teams can update individual records in the CRM, the information they collect will be consistent.
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS “C” IN CRM
Can you use the CRM to manage existing clients and not just prospects? Of course! If you don’t, you’re missing out on the full potential of the software, especially in the case of Microsoft Dynamics. Every potential or existing client interaction should be carefully tracked in the database. Ticklers can be set up to remind you to reach out to individual clients. You can even segment lists, so existing clients receive a marketing email that suggests a particular product upsell, while potential clients receive an entirely different message.
CRMs are also great project management tools; you can upload all related documents into one project room while tracking the activities by the project team members. You can invite team members to meetings while encouraging them to visit the project room to review specific items prior to the event.
With all the uses for a modern CRM in marketing, you’re probably wondering one thing: How can I get started?
Posted by IES – https://www.iesgp.com/blog/crm-in-marketing-how-crm-can-improve-your-marketing-power
LinkedIn can help you grow your business or career
LinkedIn is a valuable resource for career and business professionals to network; obtain resources and support; and build relationships with potential customers, clients, and partners. It’s ideal for home-based business owners, freelancers, and telecommuters, as it can help them build their business and career, as well as stay connected to the outside world.
Overview of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a social network specifically designed for career and business professionals to connect. Over 65 million professionals use LinkedIn to cultivate their careers and businesses. Unlike other social networks in which you might become “friends” with anyone and everyone, LinkedIn is about building strategic relationships. Thus, the number of connections is less important than the type of connections. In fact, LinkedIn stops showing your actual number of connections once you have 500 because it’s about quality, not quantity.
The site boasts members from just about every country and every industry imaginable. In fact, many Fortune 500 executives are on LinkedIn. The site has some advertising, but it’s not as invasive as other networking sites.
Working much like the “Six Degrees of Separation” concept, you start by connecting with those you know and who know you, and through them build a larger network for the purpose of gaining resources, finding freelance work or clients, and building alliances and partnerships. LinkedIn is ideal for building connections for freelance work, a customer base, potential partners, or simply to keep your job prospects open.
How to Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn has its own platform and system different from other networks, but learning how to use LinkedIn is no more difficult than learning how to use any other social networking site. Start by creating a personal LinkedIn account and profile. However, networking on LinkedIn is much different. You won’t find members posting cat videos or pictures of what they made for dinner. LinkedIn is a site for professionals, so everything is geared toward careers and business. As you build your profile and seek out connections, endorsements, and recommendations, you’ll want to be professional.
Create a LinkedIn Profile
All you need to get started is to create a LinkedIn login. You can also upgrade to one of the paid LinkedIn subscriptions; Premium Career, Business Plus, LinkedIn Learning, Sales Navigator (three levels), and Recruiter Lite. Using just the basic free services is sufficient for many employees and home business owners and gets you features such as:
Having a professional profile of skills, experiences, and more
Limited insight into who’s viewed your profile
Ability to see 100 profiles per search
Ability to save three searches
Upgrading increases some of these features such as seeing more information about who’s viewed your profile, the number of profiles per search, and the number of searches. Plus, upgrades can include additional features such as In Mail credits, which allows you to message people who are not connected to you, and premium filters, which make searching faster and easier.
Once you sign up for a LinkedIn account, either free or paid, you can create your own professional profile. Remember, this is a professional-minded website, so it’s important that information in your profile represents your business or career. LinkedIn is not the place to share cute baby photos or party pictures.
Some of the items you can add to a profile include the basics of your resume, a summary of yourself, your contact information, links to your website or blog, your previous employers, published books, and notable projects. Don’t forget to add a professional picture, as people are reluctant to connect with someone without a photo.
Because your LinkedIn profile is like a resume or business card, it’s essentially a marketing tool. For that reason, consider writing a benefits-oriented profile, so potential partners can recognize the advantage of working with you.
Once your profile is complete, you can publish it and start looking for “connections.” A connection is a person that you know or would like to know. Essentially, the idea is to create as many direct connections as you can by adding people within your own professional circle and branching out to include their connections. Your connections can also provide introductions to other professionals you might be interested in meeting. Connections can also endorse you for skills and provide you with recommendations.
Use LinkedIn to Build a Home Business
LinkedIn can help you to start and grow a home business. It provides you with an opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other professionals interested in sharing business and industry knowledge. It is an efficient tool for locating those who may contribute to the success of your business.
LinkedIn allows you to:
Have an online resume and business card where potential clients, customers, and joint venture partners can learn about and connect with you.
Get online endorsements and recommendations for your professional abilities and character. Get introductions to potential clients, customers, and colleagues.
Search available job postings placed on the LinkedIn website by members. While you can also search the web for jobs, through LinkedIn, the big benefit is that many job posts are exclusive to LinkedIn: They aren’t advertised elsewhere. Those postings often have a requirement that you have one or more LinkedIn recommendations. Additionally, there is a chance that someone within your LinkedIn network already works there or knows someone who does, increasing your chances for an interview.
Join various groups that align with your interests and participate in discussions. Having a group in common with another LinkedIn user is one way you can invite others to your network. Each group discussion contains its own job listings. Further, it’s a place to share your expertise and build the trust and rapport needed to cultivate new clients and customers.
Staying connected with the outside world isn’t the only benefit of LinkedIn. Learning how to use LinkedIn and maximizing all it offers can provide strong professional connections and boost your online reputation better than most other social networking resources.
Having a website is like opening a door and inviting potential customers into Your site communicates with prospects and customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Even when you aren’t at work, your website is. Your customers can get to know you and your products through the website at their convenience. It can be better than passing out your business card to thousands of people.
Expands your reach. People from across the street and across the border have access to your products and services from the comfort of their own space.
Increases the effectiveness of your advertising. Print advertising is static, while the web is dynamic. Once you have a website up and running, we recommend your print advertising include your website address where pictures, text, tables and forms can help you get your message across.
Gathers feedback. Use forms, email and social media like Facebook and Twitter to allow your clients to communicate with you.
Communicates effectively. Whether your website is built for customers or employees, web–based communication and email communication are cost–effective and time–saving devices.
It gets you found. Having a well–built website will increase the visibility of your site to the search engines that people use to find what they are looking for. Your specialist should not only offer creative design solutions but also know how to make your site search engine friendly so that clients can find you.
Sells directly. E–commerce can dramatically reduce expensive overhead while delivering a 24/7 ‘sales force’. Even if you don’t sell your product online, your website gives you the opportunity to distinguish your company or organization to your client.
Reaching today’s consumer. Today’s emerging generation has never known life without a digital world of connection. According to stats (and who doesn’t like statistics!), over 94% of Canada’s population is online.1 Add the growth of social media to that and it becomes evident that without a credible web presence, you don’t exist for an expanding segment of your target market.
Your competitors. The sooner you gain a presence on the web, the better. Your competitors know this too. Increasingly, your clients (and potential clients) are making their decisions based on the standard of your website. A useable and engaging website can help to level the playing field between small and large companies.
Want to grow your business online? Contact us. We can help you succeed.Why
The ‘perfect’ website (probably) doesn’t exist, but through a thoughtful process of design and the implementation of best-practices for the web, your website can have a powerful impact on your business, whatever the size. Design Consultation Perhaps the most important step in the process of creating a website, the design consultation is the opportunity to surface ideas. By understanding the purpose you have for your website, it is then possible to build your web presence to reflect both your business and your company culture.
Design recommendations are based on the discoveries made in the design consultation phase. Your needs and creative ideas are carefully taken into account and a costed overall recommendation is provided for your project.
Website Creation the nuts and bolts (code) of your website are then created, using current best-practices with adherence to web standards. Attention given to the technical details will make your website more visible to search engines and more easily updated in the future.
Review/Revise Throughout the project, your website goes through a process of review and revision. Often improvements are identified during the design process and are incorporated into the final design. You will be able to see the progress on your website as each element is ‘designed and refined’!
Launch The final part of creating your website is to ‘launch’ it! VK Media offers web hosting and domain name registration to get you started and will help you keep things up–to–date as you move forward.
How Much Will It Cost?
The true answer to this question is ‘As much as you are willing to spend’. Not very helpful, but true.
When talking price, a website is very similar to buying a car. The cost depends on the make and model and the features you select. Choices for a website can include the platform that it is built on, the functionality that you want/need and the extent of the content that your site will contain.
Read more on this page about some of the different variables that affect cost or skip right to the money part on our Services page.
‘Platform’ refers to the kind of underlying structure or back-end that is used to create the website. Some require a lot of technical knowledge about HTML and CSS while others have a very user-friendly back-end that allows non-technical owners to edit their site to some degree.
In general, it is less costly to build a static HTML website, especially if you use a template for the design portion. However, it can be more costly over the long haul, depending on how often the site needs to be updated since it will likely require the help of a professional.
CMS (content management systems) can require more of an initial investment, but they allow the owner to make changes on their own. The site might still need some professional tweaking now and again, but for the most part, owners are able to quickly learn how to do the most common tasks of updating.
There are different kinds of CMS on the market. Some are proprietary — usually when specialized for a specific industry — and require an ongoing monthly fee. These types of sites can have a low start-up cost, but owners should be aware of the drawbacks, which include the never-ending fee and the inability to move the site to a different server without losing all of the content or search engine juice that has been built up over time.
Open source CMS platforms include Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. These can be installed on many different hosting providers and have the benefit of being transferable, should the need arise. Open source solutions tend to be very responsive to the market and are able to incorporate new technologies and ‘cool things’ quickly. For example, when social integration became the next big thing, sites using open source platforms had integration widgets more quickly and in more variety than proprietary platforms.
We currently build custom HTML sites, HTML sites from templates, WordPress sites with customized themes and custom WordPress sites.
Functionality refers to the way that things work on a website. Every time something responds to a click or a tap, it is functioning and requires something a little special to make that happen. Some things are very simple to create functionality for — linking text, for example — while others, such as forms and photo galleries, take added expertise.
As you can imagine, it is more time-consuming to create a website with 20 pages than with just one or two, so the amount of content the site will have is a factor in determining the cost. Another variable is the type of content; a site with many images (in a photo gallery, for example) will take longer and be more costly. Clients can save money by doing some of the work themselves, either by properly preparing images for use on the website (size, resolution) or by installing some of the content themselves. We can help you decide what will work best in your situation.
When you first decide to create a website, it is good to draw up a site map. This just means writing down what you think the main pages will be (i.e. Home, About Us, Contact Us, etc) and then briefly describing what content will go on each page. Once you have a sitemap developed, it is easier to know if you have a spot for all the different types of content that you want on your site. Having a site map can help you break the project down into bite-sized pieces that are easier to finish up and get checked off the list.
As you develop your content, keep in mind that search engines really like content. In fact, they like to see lots of relevant, unique content on your site. If showing up in search engine results is important to you, then you need to be prepared to develop content.
Your content could include text, photos, videos, blogs, and social postings (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Yes, it can be time-consuming to create, but content pays off in the long-run as long as you keep it relevant to your brand and focused on drawing the client closer to your desired end result (buying a product, contact you for services, engaging with your Facebook page, etc.)
We can help you create content that is customer-focused and optimized for search engines (SEO), using best- practices and keyword research to guide the process.
Choices, Choices, Choices — Custom Design or a Template?
When cost is one of the biggest factors in the website project, one of the most important decisions will be whether to have the site custom-designed or to use a template (which can be customized with colors and graphics).
A custom design calls for more of an initial investment but allows you full control at the outset over layout and graphics. A custom website can be streamlined to include only what you want, where you want it. If having a unique look for your site is important, a custom design is a way to go.
Using a professionally pre-made template is a great option to save a bit on the cost and still end up with a great-looking website. Not all templates are created equally and we can help you choose and customize one that will give you a great looking website and be technically elegant as well.
Q: Can I build a single website that works on a computer, a tablet, and a smartphone?
A: For the most part, yes. And with your customers increasingly viewing your website from a number of mobile devices (iOS, Android) and on various browsers (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox), it’s an important goal to achieve. In geek-speak, this goal is possible through “responsive web design,” meaning web design for multiple devices.
Jonathan Smiley, partner and design lead at Silicon Valley product design firm Zurb, says responsive web design cuts down on development time and can open up your content to a broader array of users. We asked him for the lowdown.
Do business owners really need to care about responsive web design?
It’s here now, it’s not going away, and it’s much easier for you to convert your web presence now, while the number of devices is relatively small than get into it in a few years. Mobile devices are absolutely the future, and everyone needs to be ready for it.
How does responsive design compare, cost-wise, to traditional web design?
If you count your cost in time, responsive design is a little more expensive. If you count your cost in customers, it’s much, much cheaper. Responsive design lets you automatically approach customers from all kinds of places, on all kinds of devices. If you target, say, the desktop user only, you’ll be targeting less than 50 percent of potential customers by the middle of next year. You spend a little more upfront in order to make a lot more later.
How much more effort is involved with responsive design?
It will always take just a little more thought and a little more time to think about how a design will function across multiple formats and devices. However, using responsive web design to build one multipurpose site is much faster than building sites specific to a number of different devices.
What are some design challenges?
It’s difficult to create a single website design that works for every device out there. There’ll be a degree of tweaking and iterations to work through before you create a great experience. For example, the landscape-size photo you use on the website might need to be swapped out with a square image that’s suitable for a smartphone. Or you’ll want to replace the word “download” on a button with “learn more,” because mobile users won’t usually click on a download. Another: putting your website’s main subject categories (Home, Contact, etc.) across the top of your site works when viewed on a computer’s web browser, but not on a smartphone screen, where a vertical list is easier to read. So while responsive design is faster than developing numerous different sites, it’s still not going to be plug-and-play. This is why it takes longer to do than a single website.