All posts by Stuart Edwards

Take control of your on site promotions with Bannermate.

For a while now we have been developing our own banner system called Bannermate. It’s a simple to use banner content management system (CMS) that allows marketeers and webmaster to control in-house banner ads using a pre-designed template that can run on your own website or a partners website.

Using an embed code, the banners can be inserted anywhere on your pages and are controlled through a secure dashboard. The changes are made instantly wherever the banners are embedded and require very little time and knowledge to get them published.

This is what the dashboard looks like

Bannermate dashboard

 

This type of system is not uncommon online and there are many services out there. But Bannermate is a little different. We design and code your banner for you, rather than you having to think about design and layout. Being an established creative agency and having years of designing banners, we are great at design for your brand and making the banners work for all types of messages.

We’ve found that marketeers are time poor and have very small budgets so we help by designing a reusable banner template that can be used to carry many different types of messages. All you need to do is write decent copy and crop images. That’s easy right?

Who’s it for?

Marketeers – you are responsible for promoting monthly subscription offers for your website or print publication, software release, new product for sale etc and you want to be able to update it when you want.

Editorial teams – you’ve got a new article or competition you want to cross promote throughout your website and you need it quickly.

How you used to work

You brief a designer to create a new banner or set a task for the web editor to update a promotion area with new copy, images and links. Then you feedback on design, approve the changes, sign off, send assets to the web team to upload. Then you wait…

So the problem our clients used to have was the cost and time it used to take to get the banners produced and live online. We have removed the middle men and now you can simply choose the banner you want to use and add the text and images. If it’s the first time you have used the banner you’ll need to grab the short HTML embed code and get that added onto the pages you want the ad to appear on. If the banner is already embedded then you simply update the details and save it. The changes are pushed live into the banner immediately and thats it!

The dashboard provides tracking information that displays impressions and clicks and the source page of the clicks so you can see how your banners are working.

What does it cost? Just £40 a month!

We are running a promotion to get you using Bannermate, so we have cut the cost for setting up a new banner from £250 a banner to ZERO. You will have expert design advice from our designers so we make the banner just how you want it.

You will be charged just £40 a month per banner for a minimum of 3 months so you can trial the system properly.

Find out more information

Go to Bannermate on our website to see some examples of it in action.

Let us show you a demo

Get in touch with Stuart Edwards on 020 7033 4269 or email me at stuart@bythescruff.com and I will give you a demonstration of the system.

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Should I use a WordPress theme to build my website?

Like all business owners, our clients understand the importance of having a great website. They also know that learning to write code isn’t the only route to success.

At By the Scruff, we’re often asked what’s involved in using a website theme and whether it’s a better option than hiring a web developer.

If you’ve been wondering the same thing, keep reading…

Browsing for themes

When you’re looking at themes, there are three key factors you need to consider:

1. Design

Begin by thinking about the purpose of your website. Depending on your profession, you might want to look for themes with a portfolio design, a blog set-up or e-commerce capabilities. Once you’ve found the right ‘skeleton’, it’s just a case of re-skinning it for your business.

As an example, let’s look at a WordPress theme called ‘Divi’, built by ElegantThemes.

You’ll see from the link above, that ElegantThemes have produced a video and live demo, showing you what types of website you could create, using Divi. This allows you to visualize how your site could look, before spending your cash.

On the subject of money…

2. Budget

In general, a theme is usually a cheaper option than building something from scratch. On average, themes range from free to around $150, at the premium end.

Themes can also be relatively quick to use, as you’ll be starting with a template that you can customise as little or as much as you need. Of course, building anything yourself will require more of your time, than hiring a developer to do the job for you.

A word of warning: Most reputable themes come with plenty of online support and documentation. However this isn’t always the case. If you encounter issues with your site further down the line, you’ll want quick access to reliable help. So do your research and choose a theme provider you can trust.

3. Hosting

Because of its popularity, many hosting providers have chosen to specialise in the WordPress platform. Hosting companies like 123-reg offer WordPress packages, which get the basics set up for you. Alternatively, you could cut out the middleman and get your hosting directly from WordPress themselves. These are both great options, if you’re new to the process and want to get up and running fast.

That said, if you have some technical knowledge, you might prefer to use an independent hosting provider who will let you configure your server and install WordPress yourself. This will allow you greater freedom over the website and its code.

Making a purchase

Buying a theme is usually a pretty straightforward task. If you’ve chosen a third party theme, you’ll simply need to pay for it online, download it as a .zip file and then upload it to your WordPress account.

You’ll also need to think about domain names. Ideally you should use something that’s on-brand, simple and easy to remember.

Websites like 123-reg allow you to search for available domain names. Once you’ve found a good one, we’d advise buying it as quickly as possible, to ensure nobody else snaps it up. Keep in mind that ‘example.com’ and ‘example.co.uk’ are separate domain names. So if you want to own both (or other variations) you’ll need to purchase them all.

Creating your website

Once you’ve got the ‘back-end’ set up, you’ll need to think about your website’s structure and appearance. If you’re not a web developer, this is where using a theme can really help to simplify the process.

Divi, for example, comes with a pre-built dashboard and content management system (CMS). These let you create pages containing different elements such as text boxes, images, forms and buttons. The interface is easy to use and there are plenty of ‘help’ instructions, if you get stuck.

Essentially, a theme will allow you to create an entire website, without touching a line of code.

However, technical ability isn’t everything…

To create a really effective, professional website, you need to have an eye for design and user experience. Without these parts of the puzzle, your customers will struggle to understand and navigate your site. It’s also worth keeping in mind that although themes like Divi offer a wide variety of features, you will always be limited to the options you’ve been given. If you’re after something very bespoke, hiring a developer to build it from scratch might be a better approach.

And then there’s a third option…

Perhaps you want to use a theme but you don’t have all the skills mentioned above? Or maybe you just don’t have time to build a website and run a business simultaneously?

If that’s the case, you can always bring in specialist help, to fill the gaps.

A web designer, for example, will be able to suggest ways of aligning your logo, colour scheme and typeface with your brand. A copywriter can help you communicate your message effectively and a photographer will make you look the part.

With themes like Divi, you can even bring in a developer, to tackle specific requirements, through the website’s code.

How much outside help you use is your decision. Just make sure there’s a solid plan in place, to bring it all together.

An example of how we can build a site using DIVI theme is Perfect Fit Pilates, a Hertfordshire based Pilates studio.

Perfect Fit Pilates wordpress

www.perfectfitpilates.com

Key takeaways
  • If you know how to use it well, a theme is a relatively quick and cost-effective choice
  • You’ll need to spend time getting to grips with a theme’s dashboard and CMS
  • If you’re a time-poor business owner, consider bringing in outside help for specialist areas
  • Always consider the future. Choose a theme that’s well supported and which you can update accordingly, as your business grows
  • All themes have limitations. If you want complete freedom now or in the future, invest in a web developer from the offset.

Whether you use a theme or not, creating and maintaining a website is a big commitment. If you’d prefer to spend your time elsewhere, give By the Scruff a call and we’ll lend a hand.

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Lead generation: A necessary evil?

Lead generation - a necessary evil?

If you’re like me, the idea of tackling ‘lead generation’ might feel less than comfortable. Despite my reluctance to fine-tune my marketing hat into a more proactive ‘weapon’, I’ve been surprised at how much the right tools have eased the process.

With the help of a new lead generation software, I’ve overcome my reservations and started some exciting conversations. Here’s how…

Our most common gripe
As a small business, one of our most common pain points is the time required to nurture new leads. I realised a long time ago that developing those leads is not a short sprint but a process of building long-term relationships. This requires all your skills as a marketer and salesperson- an exercise that we creatives often view as a ‘necessary evil’.

Why is that? Maybe it feels like betraying our creativity? Perhaps the thought of commercialising what we do into a sales format simply goes against the grain?

I’d personally like to think our services are so good that business will just come through the door without an invite, knowing what we do without the need for advertisement. Well, I have certainly been in the game long enough to know that’s just not a good approach to business. In fact, it’s probably doomed for failure, as you’re unlikely to generate the new leads you need in order to grow.

Planning for the dry spells
Let’s face it- the biggest mistake any business can make, is to stop promoting when things get busy. You’re completely focused on the next deadline, but what’s the plan when this busy stretch comes to an end? All too often, we’ve found ourselves in the aftermath of a busy period, wondering why the phone has stopped ringing. Chasing for new business takes time, and time is money.

So we’ve decided to change our ways. We’ve streamlined, reduced our overheads and taken on a more proactive marketing approach, using the tools available to us. One of which, is Lead Forensics.

A helping hand
When a person visits our website, Lead Forensics provides us with information about the visitor and the company they’re from, based on their IP address. It also lists when they visited, what pages they viewed and for how long. We can then identify which of our services might interest them. Then comes the trickier part: finding the person within that organisation, who would most likely have been responsible for the visit.

So how do we do that?

First, we look at the company website. We try to get a feeling of which departments are responsible for procuring the services we identified. Some websites also provide staff details, which can help to identify the individuals to approach. Next we use LinkedIn, to get a deeper understanding of their position and role within the company.

Beyond that, it comes down to emails and picking up the phone. Ouch! Yes, I’m afraid you do have to speak to people but believe it or not you might find they actually want to speak to you too! Approaching these conversations requires a tone of transparency and honestly. Unfortunately, this is sometimes lacking in lead generation and it’s often easy to sniff out a disingenuous sales call. However, you should remember that what you’re offering could be exactly what that person is looking for. If that’s the case, you might find a phone call is just the job.

Like any relationship you will need to develop trust and respect, which doesn’t happen instantly. However approaching the right person and setting off on the right foot can make all the difference. And so the journey begins…

Want to start your own conversations?

Click here to learn more about Lead Forensics.

 

 

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