9 Ways to Improve Customer Communication on Your Website

Apparently I never created this like I thought over the weekend. I thought this was fitting seeing that we had analyzed websites good and bad last week.

Daniel Alves is the design director for the small business web design division at the digital marketing and web design company, 352 Media Group.

If you’re like most business owners, getting leads online is the main reason you created a website in the first place. Sure, you may have a stellar SEO campaign, a beautiful design and an über low bounce rate, but without a well-planned contact strategy, you can’t turn those pageviews into conversions.

Online conversions aren’t just for ecommerce websites. In fact, most businesses use their websites to initiate one-on-one conversations. By personally engaging a contact, you are more likely to turn that contact into a customer. So, what’s the trick?

First, you need to understand that most people don’t want to give their phone numbers or email addresses to yet another website — the thought of spam is horrifying. And it’s not just privacy hawks who shy away from contact forms; most websites only achieve a 2-3% conversion rate. Furthermore, people don’t want to have to worry about waiting for a return phone call to address their problems or questions. They want to get the answers they need with as little effort as possible.

Follow these nine tips to make your website design and customer service more approachable, and thus, gain the trust of more customers.

Go with the Flow image

Website usability is built on convention. Follow tried and true design strategies to ensure that your users can move through your site as easily as possible. Remember, the less effort, the better.

  • Use the words “Contact Us.” It may sound boring or generic, but the phrase works. (There’s a reason exit signs don’t use the words “leave” or “depart.”) People don’t read your site — they scan — and they’ve been trained over time to instantly recognize those two words.
  • Place contact info and phone number at the top, right corner of the page, where it’s expected. Also, make sure to include your phone number as an HTML, not an image. That way, a mobile user can tap the phone number link and launch into a call immediately. When mobile browsing eclipses desktop browsing in two years, nearly everyone will need that instant access. While you open yourself up to potential spamming, the benefits certainly outweigh the risks.
Make It Easy image

A user must already overcome an internal battle in order to share her personal contact information. Your job is to remove as many obstacles as possible so that she makes the leap.

  • Keep contact forms simple. While it may help to get a full profile of your visitor by asking pre-qualifying questions, it can be very intimidating for that user. Ask for as little information as possible and require only that person’s name and email address. If you seek other information, such as phone number and address, make it optional.
  • Create one-column form fields for quick contact. It helps to put form labels directly above form fields. Usability studies show that users who filled out these types of forms saved time by only having to move their eyes vertically, not laterally.
  • Don’t be afraid of large input boxes. While considered a design trend, large input boxes are not only more fun to fill out, but also force you to limit the number of fields on a contact form.
  • Give visitors a clear action button. Because people read from left to right and top to bottom, place the final action button in the lower-right of the form. Give the button plenty of weight with a standout color.
Be Reassuring image

Trust goes a long way with online clients. People fear that their contact information will get dumped into a huge database that marketers can access at will. By making your contact form unique, fun and reassuring, your user will know there’s a human on the receiving end and, therefore, be more likely to share.

  • Have some fun. Nothing eases people’s worries better than good humor. Why not spice up your contact form with some personality? Not only will it give your users a laugh, but it will also make your contact page more human. Consider a witty introduction or quirky photo.
  • Make a promise. Tell your users that their information is safe, that you won’t share it with any third party. Place this promise right next to the submit button; that way they’ll experience a nice aftertaste upon opting in.
Offer Instant Chat

Instant chat has been around for quite some time, but has traditionally only been used by the customer service departments of large Internet companies. Now, many low-cost services enable your users to reach you instantly wherever you are.

  • The future is instant. Perhaps the lowest website threshold is instant chat. It requires the user to supply little, if any, personal information and allows you to provide quick and personal customer service. Consider giving one of these services a chance.

How has your company improved its contact forms and its customer service? Has it strengthened your business? Please share in the comments below.

Top Trends of Twitter for 2011 

I love the infographic and it is neat to see what these actually are. The infographic is too big for me to post so here is the website 

http://mashable.com/2011/12/06/top-twitter-trends-2011/

WIKIPEDIA AND GOOGLE! Awesome!!

Google co-founder Sergey Brin and wife Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder of 23andme, have donated $500,000 to The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that funds Wikipedia. The donation comes at the start of Wikipedia’s annual fundraising drive that the site depends on to fund operations.

No More Beta: Google Music Goes Live

I wonder how this is going to compare to Facebook’s spotify.. I have’t tried Spotify but I see that a ton of my friends are using it. I need to hop on it..

Google introduced Google Music to the public at its Android event in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon. The service originally launched at Google I/O in May as Google Music Beta. It launches as a complete suite of music services — including a Music Store — today.

Google Music is Google’s attempt to take on iTunes and Amazon in the music store and cloud music storage space. Like iTunes Match and Amazon Cloud Player, Google Music lets users store their purchases and upload other files to the cloud.

The big news with Google Music is that the service finally has a store. Google has reportedly been trying to secure partnerships with the four major record labels for years.

Google Music Store is now available in the Android Market on the web. It will hit the Android Market apps in the coming days. The store requires Android 2.2 or higher.

The tech giant also announced a new web version of its music player that is compatible with all browsers, including iOS.

We’ll have more details about Google Music, including hands-on access in the next few hours.

Porn Studio Vivid Wants HTC to Change the Name of Its Smartphone

I find this to be EXTREMELY funny… to be honest.. I have never heard of Vivid Entertainment and it certainly would not be the first thing that pops into my head if I were to hear about the HTC Vivid phone.. if anything I think this gives the whole concept more hype! 

Adult movie studio Vivid Entertainment wants HTC to change the name of one of its smartphones, HTC Vivid, as it fears users might think the two are somehow connected.

Vivid Entertainment has sent HTC a cease & desist letter, threatening legal action if HTC doesn’t change the name of the smartphone by next Monday, Nov 21.

HTC Vivid “creates the false impression that your company and your company’s products are affiliated, connected, or associated with and or sanctioned by Vivid Entertainment,” said Vivid’s attorney Mark Hoffman in a statement.

While it’s a bit far fetched to believe consumers would confuse a smartphone with a porn studio, it is true that Vivid offers content through a variety of digital channels, including smartphones.

HTC did not comment on the matter.

Vivid Entertainment has been around since 1984 and is considered to be one of the biggest adult movie studios. It produced thousands of adult movies, including the infamous Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian sex tapes.

Join the Social Network for Beer Lovers

How cool is this!?

Mixing social networking with alcohol can be a recipe for a regretful morning-after, with poorly-worded wall posts and oversharing tweets littering the news feeds of friends and coworkers. But that’s no reason to ignore a new mobile app that invites users to share favorite beers with friends and “drink socially” online.

Untappd, released last week by the website of the same name, was created by a mix of tech geeks and craft beer enthusiasts to provide a haven for beer lovers everywhere. It combines the friending system ofFacebook, the check-in service of Foursquare, and the sharing and rating function of Yelp. Users virtually hang out in “the pub” and can share whatever beer they’re sipping, their location, and a picture of the beverage in all its frothy glory. Friends on the app can then “toast” the check-in, the equivalent of a Facebook “like.”

Untappd also aggregates data on which beers are trending, categorized by microbrews or macrobrews, and organized by location. For example, trending beers near the GOOD office in Hollywood today include severalDogfish Head brews. If you’re curious about a certain beer, you can click on it to get more information, including reviews and ratings posted by other aficionados. Then you can add it to your brew wish list to help you remember which six-pack to pick up on Friday night. And if you need beer in every aspect of your life, you can easily connect Untappd to your Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare as well.

Disclaimer: Drink and social network at your own risk.

The 9-9-9: A Cocktail Inspired By Herman Cain

I love a fruity drink and anything to do with making jabs at political figures.. no affiliation in particular.. I’m in the middle either way.. but with all the Herman Cain speculation and claims of sexual harassement I found this funny.

I think it’s time to buy Herman Cain a drink.

The Call: "The 9-9-9 Cocktail" Only a drink based on a catchphrase will suffice for a candidate so vaguely unsettling and unsettlingly vague that he appeals primarily to voters otherwise inclined toward the negative space on the ballot. Named after Mr. Cain’s much-trumpeted 9-9-9 Plan to revolutionize American taxation, the "9-9-9 Cocktail" is sweet and bubbly enough for those moments when you’re feeling like a frontrunner, yet boozy and bitter enough to fortify you for the letdown that surely lies ahead.

Like Cain, my 9-9-9 Cocktail hails from a border state. He was born in Memphis; I began with a recipe for the venerable Seelbach Cocktail, which hails from Louisville, Kentucky. The Seelbach was created at a hotel of the same name in 1917 and served there until Prohibition, whereupon it disappeared for roughly 75 years. Thankfully, the Seelbach has made it back into the canon, where it is stands alone in its call for massive amounts of aromatic bitters, just as Cain stands alone in his call for a national tax on consumption. These novel positions may be the best thing about both the cocktail and the candidate.

For the 9-9-9, I began with nine dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, to represent the 9 percent sales and business transactions tax that conservatives find the most bitter in Cain’s plan. Then, I flattened nine raspberries, for that flat 9 percent income tax that sweetens the deal for supply-siders. I combined the bitters and the flattened berries with the Cointreau and bourbon from the original recipe, but I upgraded to barrel-strength bourbon, lest the whiskey flavor get lost among all those nines. You may wish to warn your guests that you expect no particularquid pro quo for breaking out the more palatial bourbon—particularly if you tend bar at the Capitol Hilton.

The 9-9-9 Cocktail

1 oz. barrel-strength bourbon (I used Four Roses OBSQ Recipe, 110.2 proof)
½ oz. Cointreau
9 dashes Angostura bitters
9 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
raspberries
4.5 oz. patriotic American sparkling wine

Muddle raspberries in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, bitters, and Cointreau, with a few pieces of cracked ice. Stir. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a Champagne flute. Slowly top with sparkling wine.

The successful 9-9-9 Cocktail is a luminous red with a slight cloud of foam on its crown. Think of it as an alcoholic mnemonic for drinkers who have a hard time remembering which red-flagged nations have mushroom-cloud-producing weapons.

ESPN Tebow Article Spawns Fill-in-the-Blank Meme and #OccupyTebow

I thought this was prevalent to our class and since it deals with Memes and Twitter. Funny nonetheless too!

ESPN writer Bill Williamson wrote an innocent article Sunday about NFL quarterback Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos, which has sparked an entirely unexpected viral backlash in its comments.

Tebow’s inconsistency as a passer has led to much derision from NFL fans, and was the topic of Williamson’s article. The story now receives what seems to be several comments per second. The post’s commenters have even sparked their own twitter hashtag, #occupytebow.

The comments follow a set rhythm, inserting things that are “better than” Tebow using the “fill-in-the-blank > Tebow” format. Some of the tech-related (and more politically correct) examples that have been posted include Netflix, dial-up modems, Rebecca Black’s singing career and asking for an RT from a celebrity.

Tebow, who was only recently named starter of his NFL team, has already been in the public spotlight for several years. A former University of Florida standout, he led the Gators to two BCS National Championships, and was the first underclassman to win the Heisman trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player in the country.

This is not the first time the player has created an Internet trend. During the 2009 BCS Championship Game, Tebow painted “John 3:16″ on his eye paint. As a result, 92 million people searched for the passage on Google during or shortly after the game.

SEE ALSO: How Social Media is Changing the NFL

More recently, his mid-game moments of prayer have generated an Internet meme, Tebowing. A popular Tumblr was created, which defines Tebowing (“to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different”) and gives people a place to post their own pictures.

Occupy the URL Takes OWS Protests to the Internet

I thought this was interesting to see the viral aspect of this movement. It shows how powerful the internet can be and what people are doing because they can’t in their own area.

The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to cities across the world. Now they’re also spreading to banks’ websites.

A program called Occupy the URL, launched Tuesday, will turn any website into a protest, complete with pop-up photos of Occupy Wall Street protesters. Users need only insert the URL they wish to occupy.

The program doesn’t actually change a website it targets, but rather creates a mashup of the page and protester images under a new URL. But the new site is more than just a collage over a screenshot of the targeted website: links from the original page remain live in the new URL.

“We just wanted to provide a way for people anywhere online to show their support,” says Jim Pugh, who created Occupy the URL. “I think there are different sites out there that people would be interested in occupying: Wells Fargo, Bank of America.”

Pugh is the CTO of Rebuild the Dream, an organization launched in June with similar (and similarly vague) goals to Occupy Wall Street. Though he has visited Occupy protests in San Franciso, New York and D.C., the photos featured in the program are pulled from Flickr Creative Commons.

The goal, he says, is to get more people involved in the movement.

Craig Kanalley, who pointed the site out on Twitter, had a different take: “Now you can Occupy a URL. In case you didn’t think Occupy was a meme yet,” he tweeted.

Pugh agrees with the tweet, saying, “I think it’s definitely a meme. I think at this point, you see people all over with knowledge of it. You see various funny graphics popping up. You see sites like this one popping up a little more. It’s definitely something that has captured the public’s interest.”

Occupy the Web!

Harry Potter Gets The Friday Treatment in Mock Trailer