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Woman collecting information from the internet

Lockdown Data Usage Etiquette

By Living Proof Creative

Over the course of a previous couple of weeks, global data usage has reached new heights. According to Vodafone, a telecommunications company that operates in over 65 countries worldwide, data traffic has spiked by 50% in some markets.

With worldwide lockdowns, businesses are increasingly moving their operations online, and many educational institutions are doing their best to keep both students and employees engaged in virtual classrooms.

Meanwhile, many are fighting solitude and boredom by either staying in touch with their family and friends through Skype and the likes of it, binging on Netflix, or idly scrolling. And apparently, everyone else is playing video games: according to statistics, online gaming has reached its record high by peaking at 75% more usage than before the pandemic.

Even though the internet can’t directly be affected by the COVID-19, the outbreak may slow down internet traffic speed. But fear not: this immense surge in traffic probably won’t break the internet. While the network is remarkably resilient and designed to accommodate such large spikes in traffic, the platforms we use aren’t as robust. When it comes to apps and similar tools, failures are likely to happen due to a lack of adequate storage, bandwidth resources, or compute on these platforms to handle the heightened traffic.

While we’ve witnessed failures caused by increased traffic volume on gaming and e-commerce platforms before, what happened recently in China paints a more accurate picture of this matter. Ever since the outbreak started, various educational, video conferencing, online gaming and streaming service applications have been crashing. The list includes applications such as WeChat Work, DingTalk, and Xuexitong, to name a few.

In order to help you keep the glitches and slowdowns at a minimum, we have assembled recommendations for responsible and rational internet consumption.

Dosing Your Internet Consumption

Prioritize Your Mental Health

Woman feeling depressed due to Covid-19

First things first – the main reason why we should collectively dose our internet consumption is not that we don’t want the internet to crash. Rather, it’s because we should prioritize our sanity and stay on top of our mental health hygiene.

Anxiety, panic, fear, and anger are contagious emotions that are transmitted faster and wider than the virus ever will be. Things like poorly interpreted scientific data,  conspiracy theories, fake news, disturbing imagery of empty grocery store shelves and people dying in hospitals all tap into these emotions, and often affect us on an irrational level.

Luckily, there’s a number of things we can do in our collective attempt to help each other feel better in the middle of such a major crisis. We can all start by thinking twice and fact-checking before sharing links and information with our friends and followers. Now is also a good time to slow down and limit the hours we spend on social media and watching or reading news. While at it, we might as well finally try to be a tad more mindful of our endless passive scrolling.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it really shouldn’t be about social distancing. Instead, it should be about physical and digital distancing, as well as about much needed social solidarity.

Tips on How to Use the Internet Responsibly

Days may have blended into a big blob of the-other-day, today, and in-the-coming-days, but rush hours have somehow managed to stay the same. Digital traffic still peaks during regular working hours, meaning between 9 AM and 6 PM.

Here’s what you can do to ease the burden on the internet traffic:

  • Avoid the usage of online entertainment services such as video streaming platforms and online video games during these hours. This will help telecommunications networks to enable sufficient data flow for businesses that are crucial for the regular functioning of the economy and overall society, including office teamwork, distance learning, and other professional services.

Averages are calculated with traffic numbers from each date and the six days preceding it in order to smooth out weekly variations (recreational internet use, for example, often spikes on the weekends). Percent change is from the average on Jan. 21 to the average on March 24. Daily app traffic is measured in sessions — the number of times the app is opened — and one user can have multiple sessions in a day. Source: The New York Times

Percent change is from the average on Jan. 21 to the average on March 24. One user can have multiple sessions in a day. Source: The New York Times

  • If you live in a household with children, try to keep them occupied with creative offline activities whenever it’s possible.
  • Make sure to pause or stop auto-play features on various platforms that allow it.
  • If you are lucky enough to be able to work remotely, it might be wise to make use of collaborative apps and platforms that don’t primarily rely on video applications. Voice calls are the new this-meeting-could-have-been-an-email.

Percent change is from the average on Jan. 21 to the average on March 24. App daily traffic is measured in “daily sessions.” Source: The New York Times

  • On the same note, it is a great moment to be a bit nostalgic and rely on relics of the past. If you still have access to it, take advantage of landline networks instead of making phone calls using cellular networks. This way we can collectively avoid overwhelming the mobile telephony infrastructure.
  • Avoid sending massive digital files and bulk emails. If this is unavoidable, make sure to compress them first.
  • Only download files that are necessary and send a link to the file’s location whenever it’s possible instead of burdening the network with attachments.
  • Another thing that may help you keep a relatively fast connection is updating your electronic devices with the most recent software versions. Despite the fact that your gadgets are immune to coronavirus, they are still vulnerable to digital viruses and malware, so make sure to keep protection software updated too.

Tips for Limiting Internet Data Usage on Windows

In addition to these general tips, there’s a lot more you can do in order to dose your internet consumption.

Responsible Windows users out there can limit both Ethernet network adapter and Wi-Fi to restrict unnecessary usage. Specifically, WIndows 10 (version 1803) has features that allow network usage monitoring and prevent going over data plans.

You can configure this by following a few easy steps:

  • Open Settings and choose the ‘Network & Internet’ option, then click on ‘Data Usage’. Once you’re there, you’ll see a ‘Show settings for’ drop-down menu, where you can select the wireless or wired network adapter.
  • Furthermore, click the ‘Set limit’ button under the ‘Data limit’ option. Here you can select for how long you want to limit data. Options include ‘One time’, ‘Monthly’, and ‘Unlimited’. Based on your choice, you can further specify the information, including the data limit in terms of data plan allowance, as well as a unit, meaning that you can specify limits in megabytes or gigabytes.
  • Make sure to click the ‘Save’ button once you’re done. Don’t forget that you can use the settings page to monitor the current use, remaining data, or how many days are left before the counters reset.

Tips for Reducing Internet Usage on Macintosh Computers

If you are a responsible Mac user, you can also play around System Preferences.

You can reduce internet usage by also following a few easy steps:

  • In the aforementioned ‘System Preferences’ select ‘App Store’, and make sure to uncheck all automatic updates.
  • If you are using iCloud, instead of ‘App Store’ choose ‘Internet Accounts’ and ‘iCloud’, where you can uncheck the ‘Photos’ and ‘iCloud Drive’ options. Similar applies to Dropbox – just make sure to select the ‘Pause syncing’ option.
  • Another thing you can do is turn off the automatic download for email attachments. You can do this by choosing the ‘Mail menu’ in the Apple Mail program. Select ‘Preferences’, and make sure to click on the ‘Accounts’ icon and use the ‘Advanced’ tab. Once you’re there, deselect ‘Automatically download all attachments’ option.
  • You can also set email checking to manual by following these steps: select ‘Mail Menu’, choose ‘Preferences’, select ‘General’, click on ‘Check for new messages’ and finally select the option ‘Manually’.

Enjoy a Rare Bit of Your Offline Life

Father and son spending quality offline time

Finally, abstinence has proven to be THE foolproof method for limiting all sorts of things. We know it’s nearly impossible to stay offline 24/7, but don’t forget that there are fun things you can do while disconnected. In case you’re running out of ideas, check out our fun tips and tricks that will keep you occupied at least for a while.

Digital transformation during COVID crisis

Mitigating the Crisis through Digital Transformation

By Living Proof Creative

It’s been almost a month since the government imposed statewide shutdowns to nonessential businesses in an attempt to curb the COVID-19 outbreak. As the restrictions kept tightening over the course of the past couple of weeks, over 16 million Americans lost their jobs and numerous businesses were unfortunately forced to claim bankruptcy.

Shutdowns of nonessential businesses during COVID

The same period has also seen unprecedented interest in moving businesses online. Such swift digital transformation aims at keeping businesses running in the face of what could potentially be the harshest economy shut down in decades.

Interestingly, many changes came from the businesses that we assumed could never go digital. By harnessing creativity and potential for innovation, many industries not only remained afloat but have also managed to grow steadily.

Traditional Businesses Swiftly Transferring to Digital

SXSW was among the first major cultural events that were canceled due to coronavirus related concerns. However, SXSW Conference and Festivals organizers teamed up with Amazon Prime Video in order to avoid disappointing all the attendees that were eagerly anticipating this annual event.

By launching “Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection”, this new partnership enabled cinephiles throughout the US to see all the freshest movie premieres from the comfort and safety of their homes. For a period of 10 days, this one-time event will be available for streaming on Prime Video to everyone who owns a free Amazon account.

The organizers have also set an interesting example of how various other events and businesses can make a swift transformation and even further extend their reach by going digital.

Another great example of such successful digital transformation would be that of Hill Country Indoor, Austin’s premier sports and fitness facility. After having to close their doors to its almost 10,000 members on March 17th in an effort to keep everyone healthy and safe, the company decided to keep the community active through virtual classes and live streams.

The Hill Country Indoor team quickly realized that a crisis indeed also brings opportunities for growth and decided to go an extra mile for its community and be creative.

Home workout using online classes

The company is currently preparing for an exciting launch of their new digital workout platform. Among other things, the platform will include interesting features such as video workouts accessible on all devices, personal and group sessions, progress tracking options, online scheduling and much more.

In the meantime, virtual studio and AIM classes are sent daily to HCI members through email, as well as through Athletes in Motion and HCI members Facebook groups.

The Massive Rise of Learning Management Systems (LMS)

This kind of growth by means of digital transformation is not limited to the fitness industry. Many businesses of different kinds and sizes can greatly benefit from launching an online educational platform of their own. From the beauty influencer industry to chefs and artists, many are already following the example.

Originating from the higher education sector, learning management systems (LMS) nowadays seem to have the largest share in the corporate market. These increasingly popular software applications facilitate various kinds of training and development programs that allow its participants to learn remotely.

Woman using LMS to learn from home

In addition to the delivery of online courses, educational platforms offer a wide variety of features that provide endless possibilities to businesses depending on their needs. These include setting course lessons, dripping content, dynamic forums, certificates and badges, to name a few.

LMS can be optimized for mobile devices, which makes them convenient for people who use them on the go (or from the couch). Features such as advanced quizzing based prerequisites make the learning process engaging and even intuitive specifically for mobile users out there.

Online educational platforms allow different monetization types, including one-time purchases, subscriptions, bundles, licenses, and memberships. By combining reporting and administration features such as group and assignment management, course points and user content, LMS has proven to be an extremely user-friendly platform.

More importantly, it is an interesting territory that provides businesses with a competitive edge while increasing the return of investment.

Rise of Demand for Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Progressive web apps (PWA) are often praised as a cornerstone of any successful digital transformation. This is especially true now that many businesses are going digital. In addition to offering a huge competitive advantage to all e-Commerce businesses, progressive web apps can also help companies grow by providing its users with a seamless experience.

Just like traditional apps, PWAs allow companies to engage with customers through user-friendly features such as push-notifications and a full-screen experience. Unlike traditional apps, they are inexpensive, require less time to develop, and are not dependent on the operating system.

For both Android and iOS users, PWAs run on mobile’s browser and do not require any sort of additional installation. They have also proven to load 75% faster than traditional apps and function well on poor quality networks and offline.

When it comes to business growth, what makes PWAs appealing is the fact that they increase both conversions and engagement by improving organic traffic, subscriptions, as well as the number of page views per session and daily active users.

Creating New Initiatives to Support Clients

In light of the recent events, it’s safe to say that there aren’t many industries left out there that haven’t been reshaped by digital transformation. Even though the digital landscape is increasingly complex and nuanced, it offers significant growth opportunities to businesses of all sizes.

If you are interested in capturing the benefits of this trend but are not sure how to proceed, consider scheduling free consultations with one of our experienced advisors.

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Woman painting at home during quarantine

Tips, Tricks & Tools That Will Help You Get Through the Quarantine

By Living Proof Creative

Guide for a Digital Life

Living Proof Creative team is a tight-knit community of worldwide digital nomads accustomed to working remotely. With all our thoughts on the COVID-19 situation, we wanted to share some useful resources and strategies that can make the quarantine ride worth your while.

As #stayathome experts, we compiled a guide for a digital life for anyone who might be new to this. Our creatives share tips, tricks, and tools that help them stay inspired & productive while nurturing physical and mental health, and keeping the business afloat.

Spoiler alert: the digital nomad writing this spent years living isolated in a Norwegian forest and is prone to praise the joys of missing out, but that’s on them.

Fun Indoor Activities to Stay Occupied

Planting an indoor garden during quarantine

Plant an Indoor Victory Garden

This isn’t the first time that we’ve been ordered to shelter in place. During World War II, people were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens in order to mitigate food shortages and boost spirits.

Tending to edible indoor plants that have a short growing season might be a great way to fight cabin fever posed by coronavirus quarantine. Plus, microgreens, leafy greens, and herbs are powerful natural remedies that may actually help fight the virus.

Make a Wild Yeast Water Sourdough Starter

If you don’t really have a green thumb but still want to tend to a(n edible) living being, you might want to go for a wild yeast water sourdough starter. The sourdough craze has been around for a while, and now we finally have enough time on our hands to knead and get them sticky.

Online wild yeast water & sourdough community is, well, wild, so feel free to reach out for tips. This raisin sourdough bread recipe might be a good place to start.

Cook with Grandpa Kitchen

Foodies out there might be familiar with the endeavors of the late Narayana Reddy, a chef famous for his YouTube channel Grandpa Kitchen, to feed orphan children in India.

His channel gained more than six million followers and owes its popularity to simple yet delicious recipes prepared in immense amounts. Mr. Reddy’s inspiring motto “Loving. Caring. Sharing. This is my family” resonates with this precarious situation, so it might be a good time to honor his legacy by indulging in one of his culinary delights.

Audiobooks Make for a Great Quarantine OST

Open Culture is a great source of free cultural and educational media. Prepare to spend hours browsing through their audiobook library and choosing between fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The list consists mainly of classics such as Atwood, Burroughs, Calvino, DeLillo, Hemingway, and Vonnegut.

We strongly recommend thinking twice whether it’s the right time to listen to books with near-future apocalyptic plots.

Get in Touch with Your Inner Bob Ross

Miniature watercolor painting is another great way to unwind and soothe anxieties caused by the many unknowns related to coronavirus.

Our in-house designer and artist extraordinaire Alexandra recommends Noelle Curtis’ video tutorials as a solid departing point. Not only is watercolor painting therapeutic and stress relieving, but it also improves concentration and memory and nurtures creativity.

Learn About the Importance of Care in Uncertain Times

Many major publishing houses and libraries have introduced open access to their resources over the past few weeks.

Duke University Press has compiled a much-needed list of books, journal issues, and articles that explore the potential of care to bring communities together when governments and institutions fail to deliver. Texts from the syllabus are free to read online until June 30th and double as quality self-care lit in these vulnerable times.

Take a Virtual Museum Tour

Google Arts & Culture is an impressive collection of artworks from all four corners of the world. They offer free online exhibits and virtual tours of over 2500 museums and galleries. Discover treasures and stories from amazing collections of The Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), MoMA (San Francisco/NYC), Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, as well as numerous others.

Free-Video-Streaming and Chill

Can you imagine if someone told us half a year ago that governments will encourage us to Netflix and chill?

Well, now we call it free-video-stream and chill, but you get the point. Services such as IMDb Tv, Crackle, Hoopla, Internet Archive, Kanopy, Plex, The Roku Channel, Tubi TV, and Vudu all provide dozens of films and TV shows that we can enjoy while we… try to chill?

Embroider everything!

There are many ways to monetize hobbies but embroidery shouldn’t be one.

This lovely craft should be something that’s done out of pleasure, therapeutically, for friends, family, or even as performance or public art. DIY Stitching is a great resource with free video tutorials and home decor sewing ideas. In addition to stitching, this YouTube offers easy and inspiring hand embroidery and smocking instructions for beginners.

Heads up: Skip Fallout

Sure happy hour video calls with friends are fun but have you tried playing multiplayer games with your remote #quaranteam?

Nothing brings people together as a common enemy does, and by fighting together both coronavirus AND fiends you’ll end up building a lifelong friendship. There are many free and discounted games out there right now, and we find this subreddit the best resource.

Soothing Indoor Activities and Tools to Improve Mental and Physical Health

Woman taking an online yoga class during quarantine

Yoga with Adriene

If you are quarantined with your pet(s) and want to stay fit, opting for yoga might be a wise thing to do instead of slipping into a chaos of confined space cardio.

Yoga with Adriene is one of the most popular YouTube channels dedicated to this soothing practice. With over 500 free videos, it is also one of the most resourceful online yoga libraries. Since we can’t actually tell how long we’ll have to stay isolated, might as well start a 30-day challenge?

Moodpath

Even if you don’t end up contracting COVID-19, your wellbeing might still be affected by it. Pandemics pose great challenges to mental health and it is important to address them head-on.

Moodpath is a mental health app developed to help its users cope with depression and anxiety. The app includes useful features such as mood tracker, digital journal, articles, and audio files that are meant to guide you toward emotional wellbeing. This mental health companion is free of charge and available for iOS and Android users.

Hill Country Indoors

With a statewide Stay at Home order, many gyms had to replace face to face training with virtual classes.

Hill Country Indoor, Austin’s premier sports and fitness facility, prepared a diverse lineup of video streams in order to provide value to its clients at home. From cardio and pilates to yoga and meditation, virtual classes are in full swing! It’s easy to fall out of routine, so check out this week’s schedule and see which indoor physical activities can best help you stay active.

Shifu Yan Lei’s Shaolin Qigong & Kung Fu YouTube Channel

A Shaolin monk might be THE figure to look up to in these unprecedented times. Not that anyone would mind those impressive levels of flexibility, inner peace, and overall well being any other day.

Shifu Yan Lei is a 34th generation Kung Fu and Qigong master from the Shaolin Temple in China. His amazing Shaolin Warrior series comes with a subscription through his website and includes various online training courses and challenges. He also regularly updates his Youtube channel with exercises for optimal health and immune-boosting home workout tutorials.

Make Sense of Complexity

Observing a virus spread in real-time is doubtless scary, yet it makes for a great case study of complex systems. Complexity Explorer is an educational project by the Santa Fe Institute that offers tutorials, online courses, and other essential resources for an endeavor of this kind.

Introduction to Complexity might be the most entertaining (and useful nowadays) MOOC out there. It covers topics that provide insight into how complexity arises, such as self-organization, dynamics, chaos, networks, and information theory. From viruses and other complex adaptive systems to stock markets and big data, you’ll learn how nature, society, and technology evolve.

Learn How to Fold

Anyone who has ever folded a simple crane knows how fulfilling, calming, and fun origami can be. Origami.me is the largest database of free instructions, diagrams, crease patterns, and video tutorials online.

Make sure to check out the mind-blowing dinosaur skeletons, gorgeous flowers, and other wonders, and remember: patience is the key!

Take Guitar Lessons

However apocalyptic deserted cities may look, we’re still not quite there yet.

If you want to make sure that we don’t all go down to the soundtrack of infamous Nickelback, now’s your chance to work on your guitar playing skills. Fender offers 3 months of free classes for ukulele, acoustic and electric guitars. The promotion is only available to the first 100,000 subscribers, so hurry up!

Keep Track of Endless Quarantine Snack Intake

Don’t shoot the messenger: calories do count even during the state of emergency.

Luckily, there are ways to keep track of our daily calorie intake, and MyFitnessPal is one of them. This app can also be synced with fitness tracking devices and give insight into burned calories too. The app also has an immense nutrition database, food diary,  chat forums, as well as an exercise log.

Calm Down

Insights Timer is a free app that might actually provide its users with a peace of mind.

With over 30,000 titles, the library included in the app offers the world’s most extensive collection of guided meditations, lectures, podcasts, interviews, poems, and much more. From different yoga exercises to neuroscientific insights, this app is an invaluable resource for everyone who’s after some calmness.

Google Digital Garage

Google Digital Garage is a neat resource with online courses designed for people who want to grow their business or career. Learning resources are mostly focused on digital marketing, data, technology, as well as career development. The lectures and quizzes are extremely user friendly, which makes this content very accessible to anyone new to all things digital.

Free Tools for Digital Creatives and Professionals

Woma using Lightroom during quarantine

Adobe

Scrolling through this article wouldn’t be possible without the help of Adobe. This platform is a must for Creatives & Designers, and we’ve been paying for it for years. Now you can get some of their tools for free (available through May 31).

Avid

Avid is another company focused on proactively minimizing any potential disruptions or delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemics.

For the time being, in addition to enabling unique remote workflow solutions, the company also offers free duplicate licenses to enable creative users to work remotely. Tools such as Media Composer, Sibelius, Pro Tools and other resources for management, storing, and distribution will be available for 90 days.

Box

Cloud content management company Box offers its Box business edition free to subscribers for 90 days. As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, the company is also allowing small and medium-sized businesses to add new users beyond their license limitations over the course of next month.

OKTA

Many tech companies are launching tools that are meant to support the security of remote workers.

Okta, the cloud identity management firm offers its core services free of charge to new customers over the course of the next six months. In addition to Okta Single Sign-on (SSO) and Okta Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Okta for Emergency Remote Work includes best practices guides, community access, and training resources.

Salesforce

Salesforce is giving away six months of free packages of tools and services to help healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. While Salesforce solutions may not really be useful for people staying at home, it’s good to know so you can recommend it to health professionals in your community.

Salesforce Care for Healthcare is a solution for institutions and systems that are experiencing an increased number of requests due to the pandemic. The packages include Salesforce Health Cloud, Salesforce Shield, Salesforce Community Cloud, as well as Salesforce myTrailhead.

SANS

It is one thing to have all the necessary tools to work remotely, and another to work securely.

As a response to implementation of work-from-home policies, SANS Institute has developed SANS Security Awareness Work-from-Home Deployment Kit. The kit is a combination of resources and training materials that allow people to learn and work from home securely while providing the organizations with technologies needed to manage a remote workforce.

SecureAuth

Similarly to the aforementioned OKTA, SecureAuth offers new customers free access to their Intelligent Identity Cloud package through December 15. Besides risk-based MFA, the package includes tools such as passwordless and biometric access, phone fraud prevention, as well as SSO.

Tableau

Let’s say you’ve nailed that Complexity Explorer course and want to jumpstart your own analysis.

Salesforce-owned Tableau is a great free data resource hub that you can use for that purpose. Tableau data hub provides access to data from the World Health Organization and the US CDC to organizations that can combine that data with their own and track the impact of the coronavirus on their business or make strategic decisions.

Trello

Tough times call for solidarity and solidarity calls for collaboration.

Trello offers a one-year free subscription to Trello Business Class to help educators stay connected and keep their distance learning organized. From parent-teacher communication tools to boards to organize and plan coursework and projects, this neat tool can provide relief to thousands of educators transitioning to remote classrooms.

Zoho

Another Austin-based company came forward and has offered free cloud-based productivity tools to support people transitioning to remote work and coronavirus quarantine.

Zoho has launched a program that will relieve around 20,000 companies from the cost of their products. A set of applications will be available for free to small businesses for the next three months.

Focus on Gentle Growth

We hope that you’ll find some of these tips, tricks & tools useful in weeks to come. We’re excited to see your #quarantineprojects thrive as you #stayathome. If you are looking for a digital expert to support your business in these trying times, feel free to reach out at [email protected].

Digital services in time of COVID-19

Digital Services in Time of Need

By Living Proof Creative

With hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of people infected with COVID-19 around the world, news cycles and social media continue to be dominated by the information about the virus outbreak. In addition to a changing digital landscape, the pandemic has significantly altered almost every aspect of our daily lives over the course of what feels like only days.

The most striking difference is probably in the unprecedented pressure that medicare and pharmaceutical industries face at this time. The need for health advice and assistance is ever-growing, and employees at these companies work tirelessly to save lives and prevent the virus from spreading further.

Here at Living Proof Creative, the team is finding novel ways to relieve clients from some of this pressure by helping them manage their digital campaigns. Based on this experience, we share advice on how to best employ digital channels for client and customer communication during the time of crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Gathering information through website blog posts

Creating Informative Blog Posts

When a crisis is covered by all new outlets and commented on internationally on social media channels, it is of utmost importance to focus efforts on providing customers with reliable information.

Having relevant insight from an expert in the field becomes more important than ever, especially when it comes from a trusted, local pharmacy or medicare company. Creating informative blog posts is one way to go about this, and also a good way to help prevent the spreading of misinformation.

Posting Regular Updates on Social Media

Social media is another great platform to communicate directly with clients. Not only do social media channels provide clients with easy access to information about all of the things that are happening, but it also reaches people who are not visiting the company’s website regularly.

Sending Out Informative Newsletters

A newsletter is another channel that should be considered. Not only does it reach a diverse and wide audience, but it can also be a highly personalized way to communicate with clients. Since not everyone is on social media or is checking the company’s website, all important updates, as well as all useful and informative blog posts, should be shared through email in the form of a newsletter.

Keeping Business Hours Accurate Throughout The Web

The number of people that are primarily checking Google to find out business hours of pharmacies is continually increasing. Things are changing rapidly during times of crises, and it is essential to keep everyone informed.

Due to this, it is extremely important that these hours are correct. In addition to Google My Business profile, make sure to also update opening hours and response times on the company’s website, maps, and on social media profiles.

Keeping online store hours accurate

Updating Website & Online Store Regularly

Another important thing to do is updating the company’s website and keeping accurate stock information for all products in an online store. Make sure to timely and accurately provide all information regarding changes to delivery, opening hours, stock shortages, FAQs, as well as anything else that may be relevant to the clients.

Coming Up With New Initiatives to Help Out Customers

We often hear that crisis also represents an opportunity. While it is crucial that the situation is not exploited, times like these open up space for creativity to arise. For this reason, it is important to come up with inventive ways in which companies can show that they care about their clients by making your products and services available digitally.

Finally, be mindful of scheduling and ad copy wording and tone during sensitive situations. This is an opportunity to grow nurturing partnerships with clients and build brand loyalty, and each small effort counts.

The Living Proof Creative team is here to support you in navigating these difficult and uncertain times. We are here to help manage your client communication and business online in the best ways possible.

Stay safe, and continue to support one another!

Contact us for free consultations

7 Unusual Habits of Creative People

By Living Proof Creative

If you work in a job or field that demands thinking outside the box and coming up with fresh ideas, you know that creativity can be quite elusive. Creativity is one of the traits we value most in each of our team members and at Living Proof Creative, we pride ourselves in creating an environment where our team can develop creative habits and where those habits can flourish.

While you may or may not want to take a morning ice bath like Victor Hugo or count the exact number of coffee beans for your morning coffee like Beethoven, there are a number of slightly less peculiar habits of creative thinkers that you can employ. In this blog post, we’ll breakdown 7 habits of highly creative people that we’re trying to adopt and add some of our own personal tips into the mix.

Know your productive hours

I’m personally more productive at around 10 am. I’ll sit down at my computer, have my first cup of coffee while answering emails and messages. Once all the “urgent” matters are out of the way, my brain is clear and also, the coffee has begun to work. This process helps me get my head in the game and get jittery. Jitters are good for creativity. Write that down.

Some people are more creative in the early morning before the hustle of the day, while others thrive later at night, once all the boxes have been checked and they can finally focus. Find what time works for you and stick with it.

Beautify your space

Creativity thrives when you’re comfortable in your space. Invest in making your office space a place you love to be in and where you look around and feel happy. Motivational quotes, pictures of your cats, beautiful plants, the macaroni art from your child’s latest school project; whatever makes you feel yellow. Deep, bold yellow.

Respect your own creative process

Great minds this alike, but creative minds think completely differently than anyone else. I have witnessed this first hand when working with children and have since noticed this trait manifested in the creative habits of many adults as well. Some prefer to work with music playing, while others feel more creative when putting pen on paper.

I am most creative when I pace the room spouting ideas and a coworker takes notes. We later sit together to polish it and make it sound pretty. We call it the channel and vessel method. It works for us.

Find a friend

The point above leads me into the next tip. Find a friend — saying the words out loud helps get the juices flowing. Bouncing ideas off your SO, coworker, or friend helps you hear your thoughts out loud, which is another great example of the habits of creative people. That leads us to our next tip.

Spout ideas until one of them works

They can’t all be gold. The Harmon Brothers offered this as one of their creative habits in a youtube video and I have adopted it as my own. I use this phrase as an excuse in every brainstorming session: spout ideas until one of them is good! If you don’t get the ideas out, they become stagnant in your brain and you’re unable to keep those creative juices flowing. Have 100 ideas and one of them will work.

Take breaks

After writing out the layout for this article, I went to hang some laundry. Believe it or not, my creativity came to me when I was up and away from my computer — the words started to flow. I grabbed my phone and texted myself so I wouldn’t forget when I sat back down.

Originally when I wrote the title for this section, that was not the type of break I had in mind, but I had to include it since it was literally what inspired me.

If you’re not the laundry-hanging type, try a set of squats, a headstand, a shower (another personal favorite), or even a change of clothes. Stand up from your desk and do something to give your creative genius a break.

Eat a snack

Is there something about the rhythmic chewing or is the brain being fueled by delicious flavors and/or nutrients? Or could it be those priceless seconds where you reach for another bite and your brain disconnects from the tedious task and your slate is wiped clean, ready for a new, fresh idea to come to mind. No matter the cause, snacking while working gets our creative juices flowing.

The habits of creative people are certainly intriguing and can be helpful to implement, but what I have found most true is that a truly creative person must find what makes them tick. Explore your own creative habits and stay true to what works for you.

We hope that the tips and these 7 habits of highly creative minds have helped peak your interest in finding a routine that works for you and stimulates your creativity.

Traditional Marketing VS. Digital Marketing

By Living Proof Creative

Whether you own a small startup or work at an established corporation, every business needs marketing. Over the years, marketing platforms have shifted, and with that shift, we need to update our approach to marketing and rethink the marketing strategies we’ve grown accustomed to.

When considering which route to take, choosing between either traditional marketing vs digital marketing, there are many factors to consider. If you’re not experienced in the field, it can get a bit tricky. We know better than anyone that the ins and outs of marketing can be complex and for that reason, we decided to write this article to help explain some of the pros and cons of these two forms of marketing.

Stick with us as we break it down.

What is traditional marketing?

We’ve grown up with traditional marketing (right? Or am I just old?) and know how to recognize it easily. It’s often very obvious and in your face, which is part of its effectiveness and charm. And although it has evolved over the years based on user habits, one thing has remained true: throw a stone, hit an ad.

Perhaps the best real-life example of traditional marketing would be walking down Times Square in New York City. The glow of brightly lit billboards screams down at the mass of passersby, while the posters in the shop windows call out to you with their latest sale. As you continue on your walk, a young man is handing out pamphlets, encouraging you to take a break and grab a slice at the nearby pizza joint.

This is traditional marketing in all its glory.

Pros of traditional marketing

Now that we’ve covered what traditional marketing is, let’s talk about some of the pros of this somewhat dated, yet tried and proven method of communicating your message. One of the biggest pros is its physicality.

Whether you’re driving to work, flipping through a magazine at the doctors’ office, or out on the town with friends, you’re bound to run into some form of traditional marketing. If your bartender hands you your drink with a Bud Light coaster, you’ve been targeted by traditional marketing.

You may or may not then order a Bud Light as your next drink, but the power of traditional marketing lies in mass communication and “in your face” brand messaging. The more widespread the communication, the more you’re led to believe that this brand is global and established. After all, you were just handed a Bud Light coaster, not an Icehouse coaster! And if you don’t know what an “Icehouse” is, you’re just proving my point.

Another pro of traditional marketing is its ability to link a brand or product to an emotion. Unlike digital marketing where most information is consumed and limited to a few main platforms, associating a certain brand to an event or location has tremendous power when it comes to positioning.

As an example, let’s go back to our trusty Bud Light (I swear this is not a paid ad!). This beer is not normally portrayed or consumed as a high-end beverage. You may see examples of traditional marketing for this particular brand at a ball game, on a banner at the supermarket, or on TV during halftime.

Now think of Moet and Chandon, going to the opposite extreme. We wouldn’t see any advertising at a ball game but perhaps would see an ad displayed at the Oscars red carpet or at a golf event. Linking your brand to a particular status or social standing can have an important effect on the concept and placement.

Cons of traditional marketing

Have we tooted the traditional marketing horn enough? Ok, now for the cons.

One major con of traditional marketing that every “marketeer” will agree on is the lack of transparency regarding the exact result your campaign has had. It’s hard, almost near impossible, to know the true impact your billboard or tv commercial has had on your target audience, and the number of sales it drove. Traditional marketing is often a longer, slower process of building brand power and relevance with your consumers, and oftentimes a particular campaign can’t claim an exact number of sales.

To build on the above point, con number 2 is that this marketing method relies heavily on location. Whether it is effective or not is in direct correlation with how many people are physically in the location where you’ve decided to advertise, be it a billboard, bus stop, tv or radio commercial, sponsored events, flyers, branded cups and coasters at your local bar, and the list goes on.

That brings us to our final con: not knowing exactly who will see your ad. When posting a billboard or sponsoring a tv commercial, while you can segment it to a certain extent, there is no measurable way to know how many people saw it, how many of those are your target audience, and which of those were interested in your advertisement and bought.

I hope you see where I’m going with this — that’s right, I’m setting you up for the wonders of digital marketing’s segmentation, insights, and reporting.

What is digital marketing?

As technology has progressed, so has the interest of the public and the platforms they spend the most time on. Every other meme out there jokes about how this generation can’t stand the thought of leaving their homes and instead prefer to spend all their time scrolling through Instagram, and so marketing professionals have shifted their focus to more relevant communication channels.

We all know and love Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and work to stay up to date and current on all the latest news, celebrity gossip, and personal relationships via these platforms. We also jump to Google when wanting to prove a point or search for ideas for where to take a hot date or order takeout.

When completing any of the above-mentioned actions, you’re likely to stumble across some form of online marketing and, as bewildering as we all find it, ads for that very thing in the days and weeks to come.

Pros of digital marketing

Pros of digital marketing, my dear, why there are many! The ability to target the exact person who would be interested in your product and adapt your messaging to resonate with that particular individual or group versus another is a tool you’d, frankly, be foolish to not use. In fact, I bet I could target my own mother with a well thought out and placed ad…and she’d buy it, too!

The unparalleled insight we have in digital marketing is the most powerful tool at any brand’s disposal. With the targeting available to us, we can narrow down our audience as specific or as broad as we want, target users by interests or location, and even create a “look-alike” audience to target users who behave like our current customers.

And then, once that ad has run, we can see exactly who bought, where they are, their gender, age range, interests and more. Each sale can be directly attributed to the campaign and as marketers we can, as Beyonce says, “walk like this cuz I can back it up”.

As big brands and companies are beginning to realize the importance of consumer-centric marketing plans, hearing back from your consumer and establishing a connection with them is more important than ever. Major market studies to analyze consumer behavior and feedback will soon be a thing of the past with online surveys, social media reviews and recommendations, and even apps like Yelp, we can quickly know exactly what our customers think of the product and brand messaging, as well as other aspects such as customer service delivery and more. This is a huge asset when it comes to adapting and tweaking your processes to better serve your consumer and improve your brand perception.

One more amazing pro is the accessibility that directly links your customers to your product. If a social media user sees an ad, they have the ability to buy it right then and there. When flipping through a magazine and seeing an ad, the customer may like what they see, but after they set the magazine down, they may never actually remember to buy the product when they’re at the mall. You’ve now lost a sale, and with digital marketing, it’s easier to prevent those sales from falling through the cracks.

With all these amazing aspects and functions, you’d wonder if there are any cons to digital marketing. Surprisingly, there are a few. We’ll delve into them below.

Cons of digital marketing

The internet moves fast and so do our brains. Nowadays, consumers are over-stimulated and constantly bombarded with information and interesting things to look at and take in. In order to keep up with this pace, the messaging, concepts, and creatives have to adapt.

A well thought out campaign today involves well-researched segmenting, eye-catching ad creatives, and a clear CTA in the header, whereas a “good” traditional marketing campaign back in the day was more, well, the Marlboro man. Need I say more?

The problem is that many brands sacrifice quality for clickbait.

This fast-paced take on marketing sacrifices the ability to create a concept that will be as relatable with a consumer. There is no time to allow the user to slowly immerse themselves in the concept and place themselves in the concept you’re creating. Instead of conveying the value of a product and selling it to your audience based on an emotion or concept, we’re just putting the product in their face over and over again, offering a value add that, once again, doesn’t tell the consumer why they want the product and what kind of feeling they’ll have while wearing this particular brand.

Difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing

We’ve talked about both forms of marketing extensively, but who doesn’t like a clear, well put together table of all of the important elements we analyzed above?! A quick look at this chart shows a clear difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing and, that in this day and age, taking into account the needs and preferences of this current generation and all the tools available to us, we have a clear winner.

Advantages of digital marketing vs traditional marketing

So there you have it! We hope that this article was helpful to you and that now you fully understand the advantages of digital marketing vs traditional marketing and are able to make an informed decision about how to proceed for your business. Taking all factors into consideration is important when designing your marketing strategy, and armed with the information in this blog, you’ll be able to more consciously build the ideal campaign for your business, audience, and product.

We know that there are so many things to keep in mind: what platform is the best for your audience, how to create a successful social media ad, how do I get listed on google, and the list goes on.

The good news is that we’ve been in this business for years now, and survived quite a few algorithm changes and are confident to say that we will be happy to consult you on the subject to help you reach your online marketing goals and set you up for success.

If you’re ready to start getting incredible results, engage your audience, and get your message out there, fill out the form below and we’ll set up a call to get you started!

Magento VS Shopify – Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform for Your Needs

By Living Proof Creative

In the competitive online market landscape there are new eCommerce platforms introduced every day. Forty percent of US businesses are already online, and chances are if you’re looking to sell your products online- you might’ve considered using SaaS platforms like Shopify, Wix, SquareSpace and others.

You might’ve also looked into Open-Source eCommerce platforms like Magento, but this tool’s marketing isn’t as aggressive as some of the aforementioned do-it-yourself models.

Amid all these options, you’re sure to be in search of one thing- the best option for your business and your online store.

When making this decision, the first question you should ask yourself is:
Do you prefer to rent a space for your website or would you like to own your property?

Truth be told, for a starting business, a small influencer shop or just a one-pager website that you want to have to try and push a product – the DIY models can be quite tempting. They might even be the right choice for a starter website, depending on your available bandwidth to invest time into building the website and configuring the products yourself.

However, even then, there are certain limitations to those platforms that will limit your SEO, your control over the content you produce, and your ability to grow.

So, the initial question points to the scaleability of the platform you select to build your website upon. With that in mind,  let’s break down some of the pros and cons of both platforms, and you can determine yourself if you are in need of a templated SaaS or if a website facility with features and additional flexibility.

Magento Vs Shopify: Sell or Be Sold On

We’ll be up front, when it comes to long term investment in the scalability and growth of your eCommerce platform, we prefer the robust, open-source Magento platform. What open-source means is everyone can use it if they know how to, but the how-to part is the tricky thing, and unless you’re a Magento developer, you will likely need to invest in a partner that can design and develop the website project with you.

With decades of experience in developing and supporting eCommerce platforms – you should rest assured that we tested out all of them. Thoroughly. And for small businesses to medium-size enterprises, our recommendation stays the same – Magento is the way to own your content, own your digital presence, and own your sales.

However, this robust platform might not be the best fit for your budget and might actually offer more features than you need for your current business model, so we’ve outlined the Pros and Cons of Magento and the popular SaaS offering of Shopify.

Magento Pros

  1. Platform that puts you in control

Unlike Software as a Service eCommerce type of a website – Magento relinquishes all control in the hands of its users. Do you want to tie a certain ERP to your platform?  How about a professional CRM integration? Do you rely on any other tools like Quickbooks for your day-to-day operations?

Just google it – 9/10 times you will find that there is a way to connect your software with your Magento website. As your company and the need of your eCommerce website grown and change, Magento is an evolving and agile tool that can grow and change with you.

You’re also in control of your content, and you have access to the root of your website. This means that you’re getting a far more advanced SEO solution, that helps you to address all of your technical parameters, alter your metadata, change your keywords, meta descriptions, titles, URLs and make your website as Google-friendly as possible.

The traffic you’re getting from Search Engine Optimization is the highest quality and highest converting traffic that your online store can get. Digital Marketing data confirms that organic traffic conversion rates are significantly higher than paid advertising or social media traffic.  So, you want to be sure your website is optimized to come up when your clients and customers are searching for you online.

  1. FREE to utilize the platform

Where other platforms can’t wait to drop their hidden costs on you and get you in a nasty situation mid-campaign, Magento offers a lot without any additional cost.

The initial installation of the platform is free. You also have free themes, free integrations, you can apply coupon codes and discounts as you see fit, and a lot of advanced features are free for use as well. Some of them can’t be found on the aforementioned SaaS solutions at all.

There are opportunities to purchase additional plugins and custom features for the platform, but you don’t HAVE to buy anything for the platform to work seamlessly with it’s out of the box eCommerce functionalities.

  1. Big Support Community

You have a unique product or offering and you’re confident that there’s something absolutely unique about it that your customers will be crazy about. However, UX expectations for online shopping are often quite similar across industries, and your customers are accustomed to a certain level of consistency in how they navigate through websites.

What’s great about Magento is the vast community of thousands of developers and online store owners that are actively contributing in forms of guides, articles, blog posts, and forums as well.

However demanding your ideas may seem – there are good chances that someone had a similar challenge, and shared their experience online. If not – you can always ask for help, and the good thing about this community is that Magento users are as friendly as some of their interfaces.

But it’s not all good news, of course. Here are some of the cons that you should be aware of if you’re considering Magento as your eCommerce platform.

Magento Cons

  1. Requires Expertise in Website Development

DIY websites tout a low cost and ease of use, however most of them are far more labor intensive than the typical layperson has time to learn how to manage. While some non-eCommerce sites can be built and published live quickly in these platforms, especially if have no SKU, customer, or order data to worry about, these platforms are akin to glorified Facebook accounts.

If your business is at a place where you’re looking to focus on growing your sales and create an eCommerce solution to help streamline the running of your business, an investment in Magento will result in a customized solution. However, it will likely require budget spent on coding and design talent.

  1. Lengthier Production time

As we said before – Magento is an open-source platform that puts you in control. Now picture a kid playing with a set of Legos: there’s a blueprint on how to assemble those right, and a certain level of creativity can help you to enhance your Lego firetruck or add some customization to it. That’s what Shopify is. A single set of Legos.

The open-source Magento Platform offers limitless possibilities, so you can find yourself continuously adding features, changing content, integrating new features and updating your look whenever you want to, anyway you want to. Production time with these projects definitely takes a toll because of that. There are always more things that you can play with, and always more useful features to add to your eCommerce website.

  1. Free comes with a cost too

Magento might be an open-source platform, but the cost of hosting is necessary if you’re looking to actually launch it. The same as every other website that you own – you need to have a place to put it, and a dedicated server is the best option if you’re looking for a secure way to store your platform.

Furthermore, as you grow your business – you will definitely want the help of a programmer of a developer to support your website, update regularly, handle inventory and process sales. So if you’re growing your business the right way – you’ll have to step away from the counter at one point and focus more on the management side of things.

Lastly, there is a great number of themes and integrations that come with an additional cost. Although a lot of third-party apps can be added to your website, some of them will charge you to actually execute that integration. Popularity always comes with a price.

Now that we’ve broken down some of the Pros & Cons of Magento Open Source Platform, let’s outline where it would be beneficial to use Shopify as a solution for your online business, and also where it might fall short of its eCommerce platform competitors.

Shopify Pros

  1. DIY Model

As the name says – Shopify is usually a Do It Yourself type of a platform, where you’re guided through the process and enabled to carry simple tasks in order to set up your first online shop.

It’s fairly simple to use, it comes with multiple different themes for your website customization, and comes with an integrated POS system, which definitely makes things easier for the first timers who’re looking to start a business online.

With a simple drag and drop interface, you are able to build a page and start moving your products, preferably on social media, with very little time invested.

  1. 24/7 Support

As any other service that you pay for, and SaaS means exactly that (Software as a Service) – you’re getting a bang for your buck in terms of technical support. The support team might be available around the clock for any question, but as with most large companies, support is not personalized and the quality often varies.

Other than that, there are extensive guides full of useful content that you might want to consult if you encounter a problem of any sort. From Facebook Advertising to Drop Shipping – Shopify Guides can educate you on anything you can do with this platform.

One thing is certain about Shopify – they go beyond in customer relations in order to retain their clients and enable them to utilize their services to the fullest.

  1. Low initial costs

Basic Shopify, as the name indicates – comes with a limited set of features and eCommerce support, at a low price of $29 monthly. There are some additional fees (that we will discuss here shortly), but the fact that you have to pay only $29 to set up shop is mostly the reason why people opt in for this SaaS solution.

If you’re looking to utilize all Shopify functions, the price is a bit higher – $79 per month. After that, there is also an advanced solution that puts the price at $299. These two options vary in just a couple features, but mainly people need the latter to utilize Shopify reporting, and cut down on some other hidden costs.

As previously stated – the fact that you don’t have to worry about hosting, and the fact that you only need some good quality images and some time on your hands, makes this option very popular among young entrepreneurs, small businesses and influencers.

Whether the cons outweigh the pros of this platform still depends on the nature of the business that you are running. Shopify is very popular among Dropship companies, and businesses who are running sales via their social networks. That being said, here are a couple of downfalls that you should be aware of.

Shopify Cons

  1. The more sales you make, the more fees you pay to Shopify

Paying $29 per month to have your own webshop sounds too good to be true. And it is. The $29 option provides you with just a glimpse of Shopify abilities, and you’re pretty much inclined to get some of the more expensive options right from the get go.

With the Shopify Plus solution, the more sales you make on your webstore – the more money you pay. Shopify Plus solutions for vendors in the medium size enterprise category, will cost you a minimum of $2000 per month to maintain. Plus the additional fees of running your store.

The “good” news is – once your percentage based model reaches $40k in fees paid, Shopify will be satisfied with this figure and won’t charge you additionally for any other sales you make.

Furthermore, Shopify does not allow you to use any outside payment processors, so you will be forced to use their Stripe solution, which charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction in credit card fees.

And if you’re using a payment provider that your business is accustomed to already, instead of their solution, not only that you’ll pay the same fees, and the cost of integration, but there’s also an additional fee of 2% per transaction.

  1. Not SEO Friendly

One of the main reasons why people dislike Shopify is its lack of SEO abilities and features. If your business is relying on Search Engine Results to bring you leads and conversions – be aware that this is not a platform for you.

Some of the basic technical SEO parameters that you need to set in order to have a properly indexed website are simply not accessible (like robot.txt for example). As you don’t have access to your eCommerce shop backend as you would on WordPress or Magento (since you’re only renting the platform), there is also a problem with limitation on you ability to execute redirects.

Your URL structure, page titles, meta data and other content is out of your reach as well. You’re forced to use templated themes that generate new pages for you, and the level of management is so poor that you end up having duplicated content that Google just ends up disregarding all together. So if you’re looking to sell via Shopify, you’re best to go with social media advertising, as even Google Ads won’t give you the ability to optimize your Cost Per Click through content optimization

  1. Expect Limitations

The initial packages of Shopify will not let you take a look at your reports and generate documents if you want to have any record of transactions that you are making. Gift cards, and similar functionalities that would enable your shop to run promotions only become available as you upgrade your account. The initial low cost of using this platform really provides the bare minimum of what your eCommerce business requires.

Furthermore, Shopify uses its own PHP code, that is unlike any other, so if you’re looking to get out of the box of your initial settings and upgrade your theme a bit – you will need help from developers that work specifically with Shopify.

If you’re looking to integrate other features that your business uses on a daily basis, additional cost for adding plugins and addons is something you should count on. Plus, if email lists is something you depend on to maintain relationships with your clients – be aware that there is no email hosting possible. You would need a third party app for your emails, or a personal address that will not be the same as your business URL.

So it seems that the cost friendly model that Shopify is known to be, is only cost friendly if you’re not making a lot of money. Which by itself kind of defeats the purpose of running a business at all. One more, perhaps less-important downfall of this model is that it’s very popular among scammers, hackers and shady individuals that are ready to jump to the opportunity to utilize the cheap platform to scam users out of their money. Apparently, making yourself too accessible also comes with a price of its own.

If you are still not sure which option would be a better fit for your company, fee free to review the following table and contact us directly. We’d be happy to set up a one-on-one consultation to learn about your business objectives and provide you with some strategic advice on how to get started with your eCommerce site. Let’s get to selling!

B2B Marketing: How to structure your B2B social media strategy

By Living Proof Creative

B2B (Business-to-business) marketing presents a whole world of possibilities with amazing rewards if planned and executed with care. If you’re looking to promote your product or service to other companies by means of social media marketing, this article is for you!

So, what is B2B marketing, and why might you need a strategy for it?

B2B digital marketing targets other businesses, rather than individuals. You’ll want to plan a B2B marketing strategy if you’re a product or service that caters and sells to other businesses rather than directly to the consumer.

Let’s imagine you are the proud owner of a brand-spanking-new scheduling and project management software that helps offices, companies, and all kinds of professional projects to run smoothly. Because other businesses like your own are likely going to need your product more than individuals, you’ll achieve better results and generate more sales if you target your marketing efforts to other businesses rather than employing direct-to-consumer strategies.

In case you haven’t guessed, there’s a whole art to really getting B2B digital marketing to pay off…but have no fear! In this article, we are going to take you through 8 steps that will provide you with the blueprint you need to get your B2B social media marketing strategies off the ground with optimum results.

Step 1: Define your ideal customer profile

Ideal customer profiles

In our experience, people tend to want to skip right over this step when they are ready to jump into their marketing shoes because frankly, it’s a bit tedious. That said…don’t! Defining your ideal customer profile is extremely important to ensure results on your marketing efforts, because a message that speaks to everyone, speaks to no one.

Figuring out your ideal customer entails having a brainstorming session with your team and pinpointing one company (since we’re talking B2B marketing) whose business would be sure to improve by using your product or service. Ask yourselves: “who needs us most, and why?” Maybe a company whose employees work remotely and don’t have a physical office space? Or whose services require great attention to detail and organization that is lacking in other products within your competition. Put a name and a face on at least one example of who you’d consider to be your ideal customer.

Bonus tip: defining your ideal customer is not about determining who is ideal for you, it’s about determining who your product is ideal for.

Step 2: Define your target audience

Defining your target audience

Once you’ve decided on that one ideal client whose life will never be the same after experiencing your product, the next step is defining your target audience. This is the step that will make or break your B2B strategy.

Here is why this step is so important: While your product or service “could” probably be useful and helpful to just about anyone, that’s too broad to base a B2B marketing plan on. You have to find a group of people to whom your communication style and marketing efforts will apply most to, this will help ensure that your advertising won’t fall on deaf ears.

So, take the hard work that you already invested in discovering your one ideal customer, and make a list of said customer’s defining characteristics that you can then apply on a broader scale to your overall target audience. Your list might include details such as: age, location, industry, interests, organization style, problems and challenges, workflow and style, etc.

No matter how witty and original your marketing tactics are, there is no one thing you can say or do that will convert everyone into a lead or sale. This is why any marketing plan must include a target audience, you need to know who you are speaking to in order to present them with content that they will find attractive, relatable, and engaging.

Step 3: Do your research on the competition

Business strategy as a game of chess

Now that you’ve determined who you want to target, it’s time to step back and take a look at who else is offering the same services or solutions that you are. Competitor research is priceless because it gives you a peek into what you’re up against, what your competition may be offering to your same target audience, how they are performing, what you might be able to do differently, and how you can stay ahead of the game.

You’ll want to start a tracking system with your top 10-15 competitors and keep tabs on info that can provide insight into what’s working for them, what’s not working, and where you can improve on their tactics.

You should dig deep in order to gain a clear understanding of what their SEO strategies are, what keywords they use and rank highest for, what they are posting on their social media, how many followers they have, calculate their engagement, what kind of content they get most attention on, how much they’re spending on advertising, etc.

Of course, competitor research can go a lot more in-depth too, you can do surveys, market research, attend their conferences, and much more. However, if you’re current focus is on a social media B2B strategy, you’ll want to start with the pertaining data first.

Step 4: Identify what social media channels your audience spends their time on

Social media channels on mobile device

Even if you have the best, cleverest marketing campaign on the planet, if you aren’t posting on the channels that your target audience is spending time on, they won’t know you exist. This takes us back to why step number 2 and defining your target audience is so important, you have to know who they are in order to understand their online behavior. Where are they likely to be browsing or looking into solutions for their business?

If your product or service is targeted to small business owners or startups, you might lean toward channels like Facebook and Instagram. As a matter of fact, business decision makers spend 74% more time on Facebook than any other social media channels.  If your focus is on catching big corporations and multi-tiered business models, you might focus more on getting seen and heard on LinkedIn to convert leads.

Don’t worry, this isn’t just guesswork…remember that one name that you came up with in step one — your ideal customer? Grab the name of that business and do some research on it: what channels do they post on more frequently, what is their online behavior like, what other pages and social media profiles do they interact most with, who do they follow? This will give you invaluable insight into how to get them in the bag with your social media marketing efforts.

Step 5: Set SMART goals and milestones

People working on smart goal settings

Implementing a marketing strategy without clear, set goals is like playing a basketball game without a hoop — you might get all sweaty dribbling the ball around, but you’ll never get to win.

SMART goal setting includes goals that are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s take a deeper look into each of these.

Specific:Define exactly what do want to achieve and what it would mean to achieve your goal or milestone

Measureable:The success of your goals should be based on objective facts and stats, not opinions or gut feelings. What numbers do you need to reach in order to accurately measure that you reached your target?

Attainable:You’ll want to choose goals that are achievable at your stage of growth as a company, even if they are a challenge. This includes laying out, planning, and scheduling all the specific action steps you will need to take in order to reach the goal.

Relevant: Your goals and milestones need to be in line with what your business’ model, structure, message, and communication style is all about.

Timely: Define the deadline by which you need to reach your goal. This ties in with the specific steps you will take to accomplish it, each step should have a start and finish date to get your to your goal on time.

Step 6: Define your KPIs for social media channels

Defining KPIs

Once you’ve determined your SMART goals, you’re ready to start setting some KPIs (key performance indicators) that will serve as check-ins along the road and help you ensure you’re progressing in the right direction.

Here are a few examples of how to measure KPIs for your social media platforms: level of followers, link or profile clicks, brand mentions, reposts, shares, comments or other actions taken on your posts, and active followers.

Make sure you set KPIs that are attainable and measurable, not just a list of “would-be-nice” goals to reach at some point along your way. Rather, they should be carefully thought out stepping stones that you need to reach in order to take the next step along your strategic planning. If you don’t reach one of the stepping stones, you’ll know that something needs tweaking and you can adjust your B2B strategy accordingly.

Step 7: Identify what kind of content performs best

Content is king

Bill Gates wasn’t kidding when he wrote that “content is king”, and it rings true now more than even back in his day!

If you plan to use social media as a marketing tool, then what you choose to post is the prime factor that your target audience will use to decide whether or not they like what your offering and want to do business with you. Your posts should all be based on a consistent communication style and pattern that matches your brand, offer value to your followers, and give your followers and clients a positive impression of your company.

Need some help figuring out what to post or what your audience is interested in? You can use social listening tools to give you insight into what people are most interested in surrounding your industry. Also, performing hashtag and keyword research and keeping it updated at least twice a month is an important way to stay up to speed.

Also, pay attention to what platforms you’re posting on and at what times, keep track of which posts performed best so you can adapt your content and timing accordingly.

Step 8: Create a social media editorial calendar

Social media calendar development

Time invested in careful planning and preparation of your content is one of the best investments you can make to ensure your social media marketing campaigns are a success. We hate to be the ones to break this to you, but you simply can’t expect to achieve great results on posts that are thrown together at the last minute with no rhyme or reason. Laying out a content calendar for each month or so in advance will give you a bird’s eye perspective on what your followers will be taking away after a month of seeing your social media posts.

Loomly, Hootsuite, and Monday are just a few options of social media editorial calendars and scheduling software that we promise will change your life for the better.

Are your posts engaging enough to draw your customers in? Are you posting relevant content on relevant dates and times (such as posts that talk about specific days of the week, special celebrations, seasonal trends, or simply whatever is trending at the moment)? Planning out your posts will prepare the way for you to pump out content that is likely to speak to your ideal target customer at a specific date or time, and also give you a whole vision for what you want to communicate through your brand’s messaging over time.

As you can see, a lot of hard work goes into developing a bull’s eye B2B social media strategy, but investing the time to do it right will really pay off! We sincerely hope this article provided you with some clear insight that you can now implement so you’ll get the most out of your next B2B social media marketing campaign. If you ever need an expert team to step in and do the heavy lifting of the planning, research, and preparation for your B2B social media marketing efforts, give us a holler and we’ll be happy to help!

The Actual Cost of Cheap Website Solutions

By Living Proof Creative

Would you know a poorly designed website if it was right in front of you?

Most people these days believe they would. But, not everyone can tell the difference between a high-quality platform and a badly designed website.

Not all pretty websites are created equal.

You probably think bad web design means an outdated layout, with low quality images and bad fonts. After all, most people are quite attune to what they are visually attracted to.

However, many websites with low-quality design are not as obvious. Poor website design can seem brand new, tweaked-up and shiny on the surface, but underdeliver when it comes to performance. Website design isn’t just about the visuals, it covers everything including speed, navigation, interface design, and user experience.

In today’s world, the importance of an intelligently designed web-presence is understood, yet there’s no lack of outdated websites. Many business have trouble justifying the cost of a new or redesigned website.

But, in this technologically driven marketplace, a website’s usability and design directly affects a business’s bottom line. The consequences of neglecting your website are serious. It’s not just a missed opportunity. Not having an optimized eCommerce website can actually damage your customer relations, and significantly reduce your revenue.

With good website design, you get what you pay for. Bad website design ends up costing a whole lot more.

What Makes a Good Website?

Steve Jobs once said, ”Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Good website design incorporates visual aesthetic with functionality.

A car may look good, and drive well, but if it breaks down all the time, or is too confusing to handle, than the overall design of the machine is flawed. It’s the same with website design. There are are certain key-aspects that have to be considered when designing a good website, and they should never be ignored.

Some of the most important elements of good web design include:

Mobile Responsiveness

Now more than ever, mobile responsive websites matter. With Google’s Mobile First Indexing, the internet has officially shifted from desktop-driven searches to mobile-driven searches. That means if your website is not mobile responsive, its rankings are likely to suffer.

But, rankings aside, if you want to sell anything online, your website’s product pages, checkout process, and overall functionality has to not only work on mobile, but adapt seamlessly on all devices.

According to Adobe, 8 out of 10 users stop engaging with a website if it doesn’t display properly on their device. That’s 80% of your potential customers! It’s been well documented that the biggest hindrance to conversions is having a website that is not mobile responsive.

Engaging User Interface

The look and feel of your website comes down to the User Interface, or UI. Not only is it the main cosmetic aspect of a website’s design, it also incorporates usability into its overall structure. It’s the “interactive face” of your website.

A good website has an interface that is designed to engage users, and helps them easily navigate without having to backtrack. The formatting of a well designed website is intuitive with clear calls to action.

Visual appeal is paramount and best kept simple. From the color scheme to the font, all these elements should be designed to lead your visitors where they want to go.

Intuitive User Experience

Your customers have pretty high expectations when it comes to the usability of your website. If they are going to make any sort of purchase they need easy access to relevant information. In a recent survey by Hubspot, 75% of users said the most important aspect of a website is the user experience.

Basically that means, a well designed website, with a good UX, is going to have a huge competitive advantage. Always listen to the feedback of your users and design your website around their needs.

Bad UX is a road block between your customers and conversions, and it inevitably costs you money. Smart intuitive UX not only encourages conversions but reinforces your brand online.

Relevant Content

When it comes to boosting conversion rates, high quality content is one of the most useful tools for a website. Relevant blogs with actionable content not only reinforces you brand online, but can help in your search engine rankings as well.

Make sure to optimize your content for mobile, by dividing-up long paragraphs into smaller sections. Let the content breathe and give your reader a break from scrolling through large chunks of content.

Accurate and thorough product descriptions is the primary tool to boost sales. It’s highly improbable that a customer will spend money on something without researching it first.

Also, including detailed information in the “about” section creates trust with your audience and encourages them to do business with your company, rather than some other faceless, or mysterious brand.

Optimized for SEO

You could have a stellar website, but if it is not optimized for SEO, then it can quickly get buried by the competition in the search engine. From the get-go, you should design your website with an SEO strategy in mind.

The best websites utilize Onsite and Offsite White Hat SEO, PPC management, giveaways, email marketing, custom blog creation, and conversion rate optimization. These efforts, though they take time and money, are far more beneficial in the long run. The more costly choice is to ignore SEO and do it alone.

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Bad Website Design vs Good Website Design

Yale University School of Art

Considering it’s one of the top art schools in the country, you’d think the Yale Art School website would be on point. It looks more like a piece of conceptual art (which it probably is). But it makes a great case-study for how not to format your homepage.

Our brains crave simplicity and order. Your user shouldn’t have their senses assaulted at first glance. Too much content on the homepage will drive people away from your website and make you appear less credible.

A good homepage should present the user with your most valuable information, in a visually pleasing way. With Pop Austin’s homepage, a single image says it all, and allows the art to speak for itself.

Suzanne Collins Books

In contrast to the chaos of the Yale website, we have the website for Suzanne Collins, author of the wildly popular sci-fi series – The Hunger Games. It’s riddled with dead links and a baffling amount of white space. Clicking on the book covers does nothing and the navigation is miniscule. It’s a UX & UI nightmare. It’s simply bad website design start to finish.

Plus, there’s no engaging content. The landing pages for her books are just a list of quotes from various reviews. Using reviews can be useful to provide customers with some feedback from other users, but this is just not the way to do it.The website for a huge, pop-culture icon should be an avenue for fans to connect and gain understanding.

Camila Alves’s website, Women of Today, is designed to be an asset to the user. Her fans can come and get inspired by her many craft projects, health routines, recipes, and more. Anyone visiting her website will have no problem navigating, as everything is laid out in an intuitive, user friendly manner.

Alfred Sung

Upon first glance of the Alfred Sung website (a high-end eyewear, fragrance, accessories, and apparel brand) it seems well-designed enough. The layout is simple, and the images showcase the products well. However, once you try and navigate away from the initial homepage banner, you run into some serious problems, making this website a good example of not-so-obvious, bad website design.

In an attempt to keep it minimal, it seems they abandoned intuitive UX all together. It takes some detective work to simply find where the navigation is. Once you move past the mystery-meat navigation, the menu pops out from the side, and the sub-navigation plays out in a bizarre layering animation.

If you are finally able to reach your desired landing page, it barely gives any info on the products, or where you can purchase them.

A smart and simply designed eCommerce site doesn’t confuse the user, and leads them to the products or services they desire, without playing any guessing games. Like the Fortune Goods website, finding and purchasing products should be an easy, intuitive process.

How Important is Website Design to the User

(source: Southerly)

As shown in the infographic above, most user interaction with a website is influenced by design. It only takes milliseconds for them to form an opinion about your website. So, it’s important that your website has a good first impression.
Your website is the digital face of your business. It’s a 24-7 customer service representative. A badly designed website is like having a rude, unhelpful employee. Where a good website is like a model employee, who greets the customer with a smile, has the answer to all their inquiries and will stop at nothing to make them happy and satisfied.

Humans are visual creatures, and having a beautiful website is the best way to move potential customers down the sales funnel. No person in their right mind would enter a seedy, poorly cared for, back-alley establishment and trust it to be an upstanding business. It’s the same with your website. Users won’t trust you with their patronage if your website is not legitimate.

If, for some reason, you’re still in doubt of the importance of good website design, check out some further statistics.

  • Over 60% of users would rather read content on a beautifully designed website then a plain one. (Source: Adobe)
  • 39% of users disengage from a website if images fail to load or take too long to load. (Source: Adobe)
  • Over 50% of people say adequate contact info is the most important missing part of many websites today. (Source: KoMarketing)
  • 38% of users disengage from a website if the user interface is unattractive. (Source: Adobe)
  • One second of extra page loading can cause sales to suffer a 27% drop (Source: Soasta)

How Much Does a Good Website Cost?

So, how much does a website cost? This is actually a very broad question. It’s like asking how much building a house costs. The price depends on the size of the project, the speed with which you want it finished, the quality of workmanship, and many other mitigating factors. Every website project is unique and requires different approaches.

The best place to start is to decide if you want to use a “drag and drop” website builder, a freelancer, or an agency.

Online “Drag and Drop” Website Builders

With online website builders, it’s a do-it-yourself approach. It’s usually a monthly charge, depending on the package you choose. However, it’s entirely up to you to build the site. So, basically you’re paying to do more work. And if it’s your first time using a website builder, it takes extra time to learn the ins-and-outs of whatever platform you choose.

With these drag-and-drop sites you have a few templates to choose from. With a templated design, your individual marketing goals and planned strategy won’t be taken into consideration. Customization is incredibly limited with online website builders. They are not SEO friendly, and have limited reach on Google

Plus, you risk your website looking similar to many others out there, potentially even the competition.

Be sure to read the fine print, because certain ones have clauses stating that they own your domain name, and even your original content. If you try and cancel the contract, you may have to pay a large buy-out fee.

And remember, with these sites, it’s all up to you. You are the one responsible to build the site. It may be cheaper, but it will eat up your valuable time. And as a business owner, time is money.

Taking time into consideration, along with the limited functionality and lack of original design, the cost of this cheap website solution is much more than it seems. When it comes down to it, drag-and-drop website builders may be the cheapest option, but it will end up costing you more in the long run.

Freelancers

It’s rare that you find a freelancer who can do it all. Most of them are skilled in one or two areas of expertise. Often you can find a freelancer who knows how to develop but not design, or vice versa. And, if by some chance they can do both, you still need to find a person to write content, and another person who specializes in digital marketing, SEO and social media.

In the end, you’ll find yourself having to pay and keep tabs on a whole team of freelancers. Not to mention the added headache of communicating back-and-forth, ensuring their processes and technology are compatible.

In the end you’re putting the fate of your website into several different sets of hands, and if one drops the ball, the whole thing can come to a screeching halt. The project won’t be streamlined and the user experience could suffer.

And many freelancers work a full-time job, along with their freelance work. So, the hours they are available tend to be outside of the work week. Plus, when juggling several freelancers, it’s nearly impossible to coordinate everyone’s schedule. Projects get seriously delayed due to lack of communication, and the entire timeline can take much longer because of all the moving parts.

A freelancer may charge by the project, or per page, but most of the time they charge hourly. NJ Creatives Network estimates a less experienced designer charges around $40 an hour, while the more experienced designers cost about $75 (though it’s more likely a high-end designer will charge $100+ an hour). So, on average, a decent freelance web designer could cost you about $59 per hour.

The cost for freelancers may seem cheaper than a big agency, but inevitably ends up costing more time and money, because of the unpredictable price/nature of contracting and paying several individuals to build your website. You end up wasting your own time managing the website project rather than managing your own business.

An Agency

A third option is to pay an agency to build your website. Many agencies have a staff of many experienced people, each highly specialized in one area of expertise. From the discovery phase, all the way to the digital marketing phase, the process is efficient and streamlined.

This will cost you more, but the benefits of working with an agency surpass the two previous options. The agency acts as a single organism, working to achieve your specific goals.

A good agency will offer full-stack website design and keep everything in house, making the whole process far easier for you. All you have to do is be specific about your needs and give quick, detailed feedback.

Though some agencies offer basic pricing packages, often you need to reach out for a quote first. The prices vary depending on the size and scope of your website. Certain agencies will propose a one-time fee that covers a preset list of services. Others offer alla-cart service pricing, with the option to pick and choose exactly what you need.

For growing businesses and middle size enterprises, pricing can be anywhere from $1,500 to $50,000, depending on your website’s specific needs. B2B software solutions, sales tools & custom development certainly comes with the price, and you get what you paid for. Some advanced solutions utilized by large corporations can cost vast amounts both in development and maintenance, but for growing companies – flexibility in both growth and costs of development is usually the most favored option in general.

The main benefit with a professional agency at your disposal, is that you’re the one in charge. It’s like having your own personal team of trained professionals, who will follow your lead, educate you about the features and means to reach your online goals, and help you realize the full potential of your business model through collaboration.

A good agency also offers ongoing maintenance and Digital Marketing options. Though this drives up cost even more, it will keep your website at peak performance at all time, and having only one phone number to call when something is not right with your web presence is definitely a time-saver.

When it comes down to it, the cost of an agency built website is far more justifiable. With the right agency, the process is seamless and the results are the best you can get. Though the price tag is the highest, the cost is far less than opting for a cheap website solution.

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Real Cost of Cheap Website Solutions

Good websites are like a good meal. Most of the time you get what you pay for. Would you rather your website be a microwave dinner or a filet mignon? You just have to be willing to pay what it’s worth.

The right ingredients and preparation, in the hands of a skilled chef, is something worthy of a high price tag. The same goes for all the research and thought a skilled web developer goes through when building your website. And most of the time you won’t actually see how much work goes into it. Just like that perfect steak dinner, all the magic happens back in the kitchen.

But unlike a meal, your website is not an expense, it’s an investment. The majority of your customers are already online. Consumerism has shifted to the online market, and there’s no sign of that changing any time soon. If your business is going to survive in today’s world, you have to invest in a good website.

Finally, the real cost of cheap website solutions can be summed up in these few points:

  • A badly designed website will make it appear like you’re going out of business. In a technologically driven society, there’s no excuse to have a website that’s outdated. Most users will assume your business is suffering without a valid website, and opt to do business with a more legitimate competitor.
  • You lose trust when your website is poorly designed. With as much identity theft there is out there, people are more wary than ever about sharing their personal info, much less their credit card info. If your website seems poorly designed, you can be sure a customer will not feel safe making a purchase on your site.
  • Bad website design will cost you customers. If your user experience is filled with broken links, complex navigation and tedious forms, customers will leave due to frustration, and it’s doubtful they will return. You will lose them to a competitor who offers a more convenient process. This is the ultimate price you pay for having a cheaply made website.
mobile devices with google mobile first index

What Does Mobile First Index Mean & How Does It Impact Your Website

By Design, Living Proof Creative, SEO, Web Development

Editor’s Note: Since July 1st 2019, Google has officially switched to Mobile First Indexing. This is an integral change that will have a negative affect on all websites not optimized for mobile experience. Instead of fetching information from your desktop version of the website, and passing rankings based on their usability and SEO, Google is now indexing your mobile version of the website first, and attributes rankings based on mobile experience. Since 60% of the Google searches happen on a mobile device, this industry trend is bound to shape the future of SEO, of your Digital Presence, and your business altogether.

Have you ever whipped out your phone at a restaurant in search of a random fact about a movie, song or book, just to prove that know-it-all friend wrong? Have you ever needed local listings, directions or restaurant recommendations, and instinctively reached for that friendly, glowing rectangle in your pocket?

If you’re a human being in the modern world today, the answer to one, or most likely both questions is probably “yes”. Let’s face it, we are years-deep into the mobile revolution, and there’s no turning back now.

Desktop computers are great. But, of course people are going to use a device that’s by their side 24/7 far more often than a stationary computer screen, or more cumbersome laptop. In fact 3 out of every 5 searches occur on mobile devices now, far surpassing the number of desktop searches. In 2018, mobile has become the new normal.

If you’re in doubt, check out these stats:

infographic “6 mobile industry & site optimization stats”

How, what, and when people search online has changed with the rise of mobile. Images, art, videos & streaming are all impacted, and inevitably shaped by the way people now access the internet.

So, what does that mean for SEO and search engine rankings? How has the mobile-pocalypse affected what shows up on our screens when searching google?

The internet is big, and phones are small (I’m sure you’ve guessed that already). More and more information is added to the internet each day, as phones become more and more ubiquitous. History’s most massive resource of information (i.e. the internet) indexed for an object that fits in the palm of the hand (i.e. your phone) is the next big challenge search engines face.

A “good website” or a high-ranking link on a desktop is not necessarily considered such on mobile. So, Google has flipped the switch and is officially changing its platform to Mobile First Index. This changes the game for anyone who has a website online. It means mobile accessibility is king. It means your website better function on mobile or you’ll be left in the dust.

So, get with the times and meet the new mobile standards with gusto! With big change comes big questions, so here’s some helpful information about Google Mobile First Index.

a mobile devices with google mobile first index

Via: androidguys.com

1. What is Google Mobile First Indexing?

Google became the world’s #1 search engine because the relevance of search results in relation to the user. In the past, googlebots evaluated a website’s relevance based on the desktop version. But, now the majority of their users are searching via mobile, and thus they want the results to cater to this demographic.

Google Mobile First Indexing reflects user trends in hopes to make the web more mobile friendly. From now on, Google will rank the mobile version of your website rather than the desktop version. This applies when searching on both desktop and mobile.

Simply put, if your site is optimized for mobile you will rank well on any computer or mobile device. But if your site is not optimized for mobile your rankings will drop significantly. Google Mobile First Indexing puts well performing mobile sites above well performing desktop sites.

2. How Does a Mobile First Index Affect an Average Website Owner?

Not all websites will have to change due to Mobile First Indexing. There are three website scenarios out there right now. Depending on which one your website is, will determine how Google mobile indexing will affect your website, and what you will need to do to meet the new standards.

• Responsive Sites

There are plenty of mobile responsive sites out there right now. This means the website is designed to function on mobile and desktop. Mobile Responsiveness changes the design of the site to fit the size of the screen. The user experience is entirely different when using a mouse on a large horizontal screen, versus a small vertical touch screen, and good mobile responsive design responds to both.

Now, this is different from “mobile-friendly” design, which means the design is formatted for mobile but remains the same on desktop.

Google encourages mobile responsiveness because it’s the best of both worlds. People won’t stop using desktop computers anytime soon, so when building your website, it’s always best to design for both formats.

For example, Living Proof Creative helped create a full fledged, 360-degree shopping experience for YOLO Board that is completely mobile responsive, as shown below.

desktop computer with yoloboard.com by Living Proof Creative
2 Mobile devices with yoloboard.com optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative

As you can see on the mobile version, the imagery and font size adjusts for a more visually pleasing experience, as well as a customized category menu. It’s a finely tuned mobile and desktop format.

If your site is mobile responsive, Mobile First Indexing will actually benefit your rankings.

• Separate Mobile and Desktop Sites

This is when a website that has separate URLs for mobile and desktop, also known as an M-DOT site. A good example of this is Facebook. When you search for Facebook on your mobile browser you will notice the URL of the Facebook is m.facebook.com. Before Mobile First Indexing, Google crawled the desktop version, and the website was ranked accordingly. However, with Mobile First Indexing, Google now crawls the mobile version.

For many sites, the mobile version is a stripped-down version of the desktop site. For Google, this can spawn poor search results, as the snippet in the search results may not exist on the the mobile site, resulting in an inaccurate search result.

The comparison below shows how the desktop version of a site contains valuable, rank-worthy content that isn’t included in the mobile version.

screenshots of a home furnishing m-dot desktop site, and mobile version with missing content

Via: Searchenginejournal.com

If your website is an m-dot site, Google recommends that your mobile and desktop versions contain the same content, including text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos. Structured data should be present on both versions of your site. Be sure all the titles and meta data are the same as well.

• No Mobile Site

If you don’t have a mobile version of your website, you’re not alone. There are still a ton of those out there, and Google knows this. Mobile First Indexing won’t write these sites off. The Googlebot will still crawl desktop URLs. However, you won’t receive priority and your rankings will suffer. Mobile First Indexing is just that – mobile first.

A non-mobile friendly sight is very apparent, the moment you see it. Like the example below:

2 Mobile devices, one with a non-mobile friendly site, and one with a mobile optimized site

Via: dentalcmo.com

In order to survive as a online business you must at least be mobile-friendly, preferably mobile responsive. With Mobile First Index, Google is prioritizing websites that look, feel, and function best on mobile.

3. Best Practices for Mobile First Index

Of course the best strategy for Google Mobile First Indexing is to implement mobile responsive design. Create a mobile-first strategy for your website following these best practices.

• Design for Ease of Use on a Mobile Device

Keep it simple! The number one thing to keep in mind when optimizing for mobile is to simplify everything. Remember that users are more likely to view your site using touch screen, so the UX needs to reflect that.

• Make It Fast

Site speed plays a vital role in mobile optimization. More so on mobile devices, users want their information fast. Because of this, Google has now made site speed a factor in Mobile First Indexing. But, we will address that more in depth in the next section of the blog.

• Avoid Interstitial Pop-ups.

No one likes being interrupted, and Google knows this. So, there’s been a crack-down on pop-ups on mobile, also known as intersitals. You want your websites user experience to be distraction-free. Avoid SEO penalties from Google by implementing the call-to-action in a more subtle creative way, in order to keep the leads coming. Like inserting the CTA into relevant content.

Our SEO Team Can Help You Build Leads The Smart Way Without Relying On Distracting POP-UPs.

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Like that.

• Optimize your content for mobile

Content will always be a driving force for your website, and quality meaningful content will have no problem ranking well with Mobile First Indexing. Simply rethink the layout of the articles.

Break up the content into smaller paragraphs, and use pictures and infographics to splice up large, wordy chunks. A balanced combination of written content and visual content will give your users a much better mobile experience.

• Build a Fluid Site Grid

Designing a site grid that is proportionate to whatever screen it’s on, rather than a fixed measurement, is crucial to mobile responsiveness. Phones and handheld devices are getting smaller and smaller, while desktops are getting wider, with increasingly better resolution. Responsive design is not only designing for a smaller screen, it encompasses all varieties of devices. Fluid design works with the strengths and faults of each and every screen dimension and size.

Illustration of a fluid site grid on a smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop computer

• Implement Flexible Texts and Images

Your website’s fonts and images need to be fluid as well. Be sure your images scale accordingly to the screen size and dimensions. Verify that your images works in both landscape and portrait. Always provide the correct text size for each viewing device, so it is clear and readable.

• Create a User Friendly Mobile Menu

You want your mobile navigation to be short and sweet. Remember to list the important pages first and consider the search navigation as well. Font size and color contrast is key, especially for small screens, so always keep that in mind. And always design the menu for touch.

• Reduce the Need For Text Entry

Use every opportunity to reduce the need to input text. Typing on a mobile device is more difficult, so think of ways to replace the need for typing with a button or list. Mobile users don’t have use of a keyboard or mouse, so find creative alternatives to minimize the challenge of navigating your website.

Mobile device showing a website for Flats on 12, optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative
Mobile device showing HarrysBoots.com optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative
Mobile device showing University of Texas Title IX website optimized for mobile by Living Proof Creative

4. Importance of Mobile Speed

A fast website is an all-around useful thing. It reduces bounce rates and encourages conversions. There’s no doubt about it, speed matters.

As mentioned before, speed is another factor Google Mobile First Index will use to rank your website. These days users expect split-second results, and Google realizes this is a real element in making a site successful.

Although speed has been part of Google’s ranking for a while now, the switch to Mobile First Indexing means it will be focusing on mobile speed rather than desktop speed, starting in July 2018.

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, helps your page load 4x faster and works seamlessly with WordPress to optimize your mobile website speed. AMP is an open-source website publishing tool and is basically a streamlined version of HTML. This “diet-HTML” is lightweight to increase loading speed.

If you’re not sure of your websites speed you can easily check it for free with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. And, if it turns out your website is more sluggish than it should be, Living Proof Creative can help you ramp up the speed.

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5. How to Prepare Your Website for Future Updates?

Google Mobile Indexing has been a long time coming. With the smartphone tech-boom over the last decade, many foresaw the inevitable turn to handheld-device-based searches. So, what’s next?

The web is constantly changing and morphing, shaped by user habits and the rapid rate of technological advancements. So, how do you plan for inevitable future updates?

Keep the users first. Understanding user trends is the safest way to ensure your website is relevant. That’s how Google operates. User demand is the largest determining force for Google Mobile Indexing, and it will be for the next update, and the next one after that.

Many predict a deviation from URLs and a higher emphasis on APIs. Though we are a ways off from a complete app take over, things seem to be trending towards web-app experiences. Apps are more difficult to build and maintain, but they are a customized, user friendly experience with faster load times.

The future of indexing for Google is pretty clear. In order to work between URL, API and all web based entities, artificial intelligence has to be utilized. CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, even said, “We will move from mobile first to an AI first world.”

For now, having a mobile responsive website filled with relevant content is all you need to have an impactful presence online. But, it’s always good to look ahead. Is your company ready to start planning for the future? Living Proof Creative can help you transition into the dynamic, user engaging world of API development.

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