Category: Article

10 Dec 2018
office gift exchange

Holiday Gift Exchange at Work

There are plenty of holiday gift exchange games that are appropriate for playing at the office. Office gift swaps give the opportunity for coworkers to not only give each other gifts on a budget, but interact with each other on something that isn’t all about work. An office holiday gift exchange allows employees to celebrate the holiday season together!

Office rules

It’s important to have some guidelines when it comes to gift exchanges in office activities.  Either limit the cash value of the gift, or organize Dirty Santa or White Elephant. You could even prohibit gift-giving altogether, but where’s the fun in that?

Before planning any fun festivities, ask a supervisor and co-workers about the office protocols. It’s important to know the rules that are already in place and to see if your co-workers want to participate at all.

Some company cultures avoid the gift-giving season and don’t exchange office holiday gifts at all, so it’s important to know the tone of the company. Many employees simply don’t have the extra cash or don’t want to offend those who don’t celebrate religious holidays. What’s important is to take other’s feelings into account.

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a traditional office gift swap game with many variations. To play, first invite everyone in the office to participate. Emphasize that participation is not mandatory, but it is more fun if everybody plays. Once you have the list of participants, write each name on a slip of paper and put the slips into a bowl from which each player will draw a name. Each person then chooses a present for the person whose name was drawn. Set a strict spending limit, usually between $5 and $20.

White Elephant

White elephant gift exchanges lean toward silly, and require little to no money and can be played in two ways. One approach involves all participants bringing a gift from home. For the other, everyone brings a funny gag gift, usually valued at $5 or $10. On the day of the gift swap, collect all the wrapped presents and draw numbers to decide playing order. The first player gets to pick and unwrap the gift of their choice. The second player then has the option to steal the first gift or to open a second. This continues until everyone has a gift to take home.

Gift Theme

It can be tough picking a gift for co-workers. Something that can help ease the stress of the gift giving is by setting a theme. This still leaves the decision of how to exchange gifts, but helps give guidelines on what to buy. A few popular gift themes for the office are the following:

  • Coffee
  • Ornament
  • Snacks
  • Desk Decoration
  • Gift Cards

Celebrating the holidays in the office can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be mindful of how everyone in the office celebrates individually. Remain respectful and have fun with however you choose to do your gift exchange!

06 Dec 2018

Boost Your Load Time for Better Performance on Word Press

Have you found that your website performance is slowing down? It might be because of your slow load time.

Why speed?

Studies show that from 2000 to 2016, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 7 seconds. Well, what does this mean for you as a website owner? You have very little time to show users your content and convince them to stay on your website.

A slow website means users will potentially leave your website before it even loads.

Is it costing you money?

Google and other search engines have started penalizing slower websites by pushing them down in the search results which means lower traffic for slow websites. That means that if you want more traffic, which also means more subscribers and revenue, for your site, the speed is key.

Checking website speed

Just because you feel like your website isn’t running slow does not mean that is the case. Since you frequently visit your own website, browsers like Chrome store your website in cache and automatically prefetch it as soon as you start typing the address. This makes your website load almost instantly for you.

However, a normal user who is visiting your website for the first time may not have the same experience. Users in different geographical locations will have a completely different experience. That is why it is recommend to test your website speed using a tool like Pingdom.

Pingdom

Pingdom is a free online tool that allows you to test your website’s speed from different locations. After running your website speed test, you might end up with more questions. Questions like, what’s an ideal website speed?

A good page load time is under 2 seconds. However, the faster you can make it, the better. A few milliseconds of improvements here and there can add up more than most realize.

What to avoid

The speed test report will have multiple recommendations for what can be improved. If you find this hard to understand, don’t stress!

What’s important is understanding what slows down your website, improving performance, and making smarter long-term decisions.

Some of the primary causes for a slow WordPress website are:

  • Web Hosting
  • WordPress Configuration
  • Page Size
  • Bad Plugins
05 Dec 2018
email marketing

Tips for Holiday Email Marketing

Holiday email marketing is a big driver of the seasonal sales. Email marketing is responsible for 20 percent of holiday sales. That means email marketing alone brings in billions of dollars every year.

Timing

Timing is everything and marketing during the holiday season is no exception.  Start your holiday email marketing campaigns between November 1st and 15th. That’s when most people open your holiday marketing emails; after that, open rates drop.

It’s not just your email campaigns that you should plan in advance. If you want to have somebody to market to, you’ll need to grow your email list ahead of time.

Build your email list when you start your business, even before you launch it formally. You should be building your list all through the year from you are up and running.

Holiday Campaigns

It is not uncommon for companies to change their website themes during the holiday season. Change your colors and style based on the holiday. Do the same with holiday email marketing campaigns. It is important to change up the style of your emails periodically so the audience doesn’t get bored.

Switch things up with some holiday email templates to get more attention for the marketing campaigns.

Add Urgency

Urgency is a great way to boost sales in the holiday email marketing campaign. A limited time holiday offer will encourage visitors to take action now. Use a strategy that makes the audience take action now in order to get the deal. In doing that, it will also add the customer to the emailing list for future sales.

If you use this strategy, you can also segment your audience by the package they buy so you can send appropriate offers their way moving forward.

29 Nov 2018
SEM Tips

5 SEM Tips for Your Company

Are you struggling with your SEM plan? SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. It’s a simple idea, but it’s a powerful tool that should be taken seriously. Here are some tips to using SEM successfully.

Set and define a goal

In the big picture, everyone has a goal of making money, but that doesn’t usually happen overnight. Before you can really decide if a SEO campaign is right for your overall marketing plan, you have to set goals. These goals will help measure the progress.

Choose Keywords

A big first step is to find your “Keyword Gems.” Keyword Gems are keywords that you are already getting found for with low traffic, clicks, or page rank. You can find your Keyword Gems in the Google Analytics queries section or through a SEO tool like moz or soovle. Your keyword Gems can serve as the starting point for your keyword research process. You can expand on your keyword list by thinking of way to use variations with the same phrase and/or keyword.

Ad Copy

There is limited space for SEM ad copy, and it shows next to competition that is using the same keywords. Ad copy is extremely important. Unless you are able to entice a user to click on your ad, the steps to come won’t matter.

When writing the ad copy, look at the competition to see how they are targeting their SEM. What are they focusing on? It’s important to find ways to distinguish your ad from others and you’ll have a tough time doing so unless you know what your competitors are doing.

Landing Pages

Navigating users to a particular landing page is vital. Users want to go directly from the ad to the exact item it was offering. The content and URL for the landing page should be relevant to the keywords that the ad is using for targeting.

A successful landing page will make it clear what the next steps are, through a call to action. Make the call to action obvious with simple phrases like click here, call now, buy now, etc.

Finding success in SEM goes beyond setting up a keyword list and budget. It takes experimentation and strategic data analysis. Don’t be afraid to make changes and find what works best for you and your brand.

Review

It’s extremely important to stay on top of your bids for keywords. Stay on top of what is and isn’t working. Increase the spend on certain keywords and eliminate or decrease spend on other keywords that are not giving you the results that you want. While it may be time consuming to check this often, you will need to periodically adjust bids and conversion ratio for every keyword.

Make sure that you are looking at the relevant date. The more the better can be true in this situation, but it’s not always the case. Don’t wait to make changes due to worry about waiting long enough. Sometimes making changes will improve things, and sometimes making a change won’t change the results at all. Test out what works best for you.

27 Nov 2018
Web Design Forms

What Makes Efficient Forms?

Forms are one of the most important types of interaction for users online and in the apps. They are used for registration, subscription services, customer feedback, checkout, transactions, or as data input to search or share information. Developers should pay special attention to improving their forms and making them as usable as possible, because careful form design has a huge impact on the speed with which users can accurately complete a form.

When designing a form, it is important to know which type will be the most successful, order, and layout.

Forms

  • Structure – includes the order of fields, the form’s appearance on the page and the logical connections between multiple fields
  • Input fields – includes text fields, password fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, sliders, and any other fields designed for user input
  • Field labels – tells users what the corresponding input fields mean
  • Action button – when the user presses this button, an action is performed
  • Feedback – user is made to understand the result of their input through feedback
  • Assistance – explanation of how to fill out the form
  • Validation – automatic check that ensures a user’s data is valid

Logical Order

Make your form as simple as possible by thinking about the progression of the questions that you ask. What order will feel the most natural to users, and how will they expect questions to be grouped together?

Start with the basic questions, then ease into the more complex ones. This will increase participation and reduce the number of users who don’t complete the form.

Layout

Users want to complete a web form without any hassle, and are likely to quickly work their way through the form by scanning questions. To help users, make sure the form is in a single column.

Multiple columns can cause confusion and increase the time it takes the user to interpret the information as they read in a “Z” pattern. If the form is set as a single column there is a clear and direct path.

21 Nov 2018

Happy Black Friday 2018!

The term “Black Friday” wasn’t originally coined talking about a holiday to shop, but to financial crisis. It started specifically about the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the post-Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss stores would supposedly earn a profit on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

Don’t forget to spend extra time with your family and enjoy the holiday season!

19 Nov 2018
Marketing for Holidays

Tips for Marketing during the Holiday Season

Do you find yourself overwhelmed during the holiday season? Chances are that if you’re overwhelmed, so is your audience.

De-Stress the Holidays

As exciting as the holiday season is, it can be equally as stressful. Everyone is concerned about money, time, and keeping everything organized. The holiday season can be crazy and it’s important to not add to the overwhelming atmosphere. Be careful about adding another task to their holiday to-do list.

Try focusing on giving the audience some solutions to the holiday chaos. Simplicity is key. Guide the audience with content on how they can improve their holiday experience or keep things running smoothly while still enjoying themselves. Provide them with a five-minute solution, two-step fix, or other simple strategies to lighten the holiday load.

Use Nostalgia

The holiday season often focuses on nostalgia. Stick with the classic holiday figures and traditions to ease some of the typical stress. Add references to movies, characters, songs, etc to things that you’re doing. You can pull on their heartstrings with tradition and remind the target audience of their happy holiday memories.

Incorporate gentle, nostalgic themes in the content to easily connect with your audience.

Pick a Focus

The holiday season encompasses many celebrations, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day, the Winter Solstice, and more. Don’t dilute the content or the message of the brand by trying to incorporating them all. Instead, use certain phrases the can encompass them all by referring to it as the holiday season.

When decided how to approach the holiday season, it’s important to consider you brand. This might mean referring only to these events as “holidays” and putting your emphasis on time with family, food preparation, or meaningful gift-giving.

15 Nov 2018

Less is More Even with Content

Happy Use Less Stuff Day! Use Less Stuff Day started as part of a campaign working to save the environment, and to save the world. Using less stuff isn’t just something that you can do at home with your clutter. You can incorporate into your marketing plan too. In most situations, less is more.

Less is More Strategy

This strategy is typically centered around the idea that high-quality content is more effective than a lot of average content. The idea behind this is to create original and relatable content that will also show off your brand name.

There are a few major tips to follow in order to make this method work:

  • Make more edits.
  • Publish less frivolous content.
  • Always experiment with your strategy.

By following these tips, you can be sure to leave out the average content that no one really cares about. Make your content stand out with the “less is more” idea. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your content to see what works. Being strategic about what is posted will pay off in the end.

What Works

To sum it all up, it is about the quality rather than quantity when it comes to content marketing. Creating engaging content and pushing it with promotions and ads that are effective can not only help in branding your company.

Just because you have content that is created does not mean that it has to be posted.

12 Nov 2018
engaging content

4 Tips for Creating Engaging Content

Are you creating engaging content? It can become challenging sometimes to keep things interesting when you’re making new content day after day. Here are a few key tips on how to keep your audience engaging in your content.

Be original

Whether you’re approaching a new topic, one you’ve touched on before, or one that everyone else is talking about, it’s crucial that your engaging content has your own personal touch.

Some simple ways of doing this are by spinning a topic to relate to your specific brand or taking a unique angle. Your audience is looking to you for your take, not everyone else’s.

Use visuals

It’s important to add visuals to your content. Visuals can be anything from an infographic, clip art, original photography, or stock images. Keeping with the trend of creating original content, taking you own photos or creating infographics is the best option when it’s an option.

By adding visuals to your content, you’re also breaking up your copy and keeping your audience interested. Large

Change it up

It’s good to have a a schedule that you work by, but it’s also important that things get changed up a bit as well.

Just because your everyday schedule calls for an article doesn’t mean you can’t switch it up and try out something different like an infographic. Changing things up occasionally keep the audience from getting bored.

Catchy titles

It’s important to have a title that pops! The chances of someone clicking on a boring title are significantly lower than something that catches the attention of the audience and makes them want more information.

A few examples of ways to write a catchy title are: ask a question, use numbers, trigger words, SEO, and keep it short. Make sure you’re keeping your audience in mind when writing a title that you want to catch attention.

When writing engaging content, a major factor is taking the target audience in to consideration and what they want to see. What’s relevant is constantly changing and has to be monitored.

08 Nov 2018
Cook Something Bold

Happy Cook Something Bold Day!

Cook Something Bold Day is an event that leaves little to the imagination. In other words, cooking something that breaks you out of  your shell. Don’t stick with your usual, safe recipes today. Try that recipe that you’ve been thinking about, but have been too nervous to take on. Cook Something Bold Day is intended to celebrate the use of herbs such as garlic and hot pepper to promote health and longevity.

The best way to recognize Cook Something Bold Day is by cooking something bold. By using a bit of imagination, you may even find that a surprisingly original dish can be created. When boldness is combined with innovation, the results are bound to be interesting!

Here’s a recipe for the popular dish, Jerk Chicken:

(Serves 6)

1 tbsp allspice berries
1 tbsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped (use the white part and most of the green)
3 scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
6 chicken legs (thigh with drumstick attached), skin-on (or 6 thighs and 6 drumsticks)

1. Pound the allspice and the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar to a powder, then add to a food processor along with the cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, spring onions and chillies. Whizz to a purée, then stir in the sugar, salt, soy sauce and lime juice.

2. Pour the marinade into a bowl then add the chicken and massage it into the meat, making sure you get it underneath the skin. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

3. Light a barbecue and allow it to cool to a medium heat – you should be able to hold your hand over the grill for 4 seconds without getting singed. Add the chicken and sear on both sides, then move to the edges of the barbecue, put the lid on the barbecue and cook for about 25 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. Alternatively, pre-heat the oven to 180C and then cook the chicken in a roasting tray covered with foil for about an hour, until cooked through. Heat a griddle pan on a high heat, and then sear the legs on both sides until charred and crisp. Serve with rice and peas, roasted sweet potato or cornbread fritters.