So it is the day after the night before and I am proudly here in my office holding my award as winner of the Web Designer Category in the JCI Galway TechGate Awards 2015.

Firstly I’ll give a quick explanation of the awards. The awards seek to recognise and reward the achievement of the best technology start-ups, websites and enterprises in the West of Ireland. The competition highlights the accomplishments of technology entrepreneurs and rewards entrepreneur’s endeavours with the Galway and West of Ireland region.

The award for me is my first since I created Cityweb and it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Your first award is always a memorable one and to win one in front of many of my friends and colleagues who I have met and have got to know during my time in Galway.

There were so many great companies involved last night which makes it even more special that I won my category. I hope that this will be the first of many awards for Cityweb as it continues to grow. Thank you Keith and the rest of the JCI Galway team and everyone else for the support and well wishes.

Choosing a domain for your business falls into the extremely important category and it requires a large level of planning and attention. Your business name is your identity in day-to-day operations but on the Internet, your domain name is what people will use to identify you. That being said, when it comes to choosing your identity online, you will want to choose a name that not only resonates with your business but also is easy to recall, discover and promote.

So with that being said, here are Cityweb’s seven key steps for you to choose the right domain for your website:

  1. Short

The longer and more complicated your domain is, the more likely you have the visitors will mistype or misspell it. Having a short domain is the best way to go.

  1. Easy

Finding a domain that can be easily typed is critical to its success. Often businesses that use slang (‘4u’ instead of ‘for you’) or words with several spelling versions (‘there’ versus ‘their’) will find that their customers find it harder to locate their site.

  1. Memorable

In the world today, there are millions of domain names registered so to stand out among your competitors, a catchy and memorable name is a must. Once you have come up with a name, share it with trusted colleagues, family and friends to make sure it sounds appealing and that it makes sense.

  1. Extension

Extensions to your domain name or what most people would recognize as the .com or .ie at the end of web addresses. These can play a pivotal role in your website and each has specific uses that may be more relevant to your business than others. A few of the most common ones we would see in Ireland are identified and explained below:

  • .com – By far the most popular extension. Anybody can register a .com but it was originally intended for use by for-profit companies. Sports clubs, non-profits, individuals, schools and traditional for-profit businesses currently use it. The .com stands for ‘Commercial’.
  • .org – This is also open for anyone to register with but is primarily used by non-profit organisations. org is an example of a .org website.
  • .edu – This domain extension is limited to use by specific educational institutions such as primary schools, secondary schools, third level institutions although it is mainly used in the U.S. One example of this type of website extension is .edu
  • .ie – This is the Ireland extension and can only be registered by people with a real and substantial connection with Ireland (both the Republic and Northern Ireland). Many of my clients use .ie
  1. Avoid

When it comes to domain names, avoid digits and hyphens as they can often be misunderstood. People who hear your website address do not know if you are talking about the number 4 in terms of it being the digit 4 or the word four. Remove this misunderstanding and your website becomes instantly more memorable.

  1. Protect

To protect your business, you should purchase a number of domains that help protect your brand. This prevents competitors and spammers from registering other versions of your domain and ensures that your target customers are brought directly to the website they want, yours.

  1. Act

Domain names move quickly and are snapped up frequently and quickly. Because they can be purchased cost-effectively, it is worth registering your preferred domains as soon as you possibly can. If you are having trouble finding an available name, registers for domains such as Blacknight can aid you massively in finding the right domain for your business.

 

About YouTube

It is hard to believe that YouTube has been around for less than 10 yrs (It’s 10th anniversary will be in December of this year), but it is even harder to believe the changes which have occurred to the platform in that time span. Some facts regarding YouTube in Ireland include:

  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world (after Google of course).
  • In Ireland, 50% of YouTube traffic comes from mobile devices.
  • The YouTube homepage has in and around 1.7 million views in Ireland, every day.
  • 46% of Irish people who use YouTube in Ireland are 35 +

Each one of these points tells us about the strength YouTube has in numbers in Ireland alone, so it’s only natural the platform is used for marketing companies, brands and businesses, but how?

Advertising

About 1 in 3 people spend as much time watching YouTube in a week as they do TV. Who would have even thought of that over 10 yrs ago? People’s viewing habits are clearly going online and YouTube is at the epicentre of that. Money is where eyes are. That used to be Newspapers and Television, now its online video content. It was only a matter of time before advertising on YouTube became an incredibly good way to market a business.

YouTube Channels

It has never been easier for businesses or anyone, in fact, to set up their own video channel to create and distribute content. Video marketing has taken huge strides in the last 2 or so years and is now responsible for the majority of content (not just video content, content overall) on other social media platforms. The ability to create your own URL video channel has been a complete game changer in the way marketers think and approach online and digital marketing strategies and techniques. For example in the sports world, companies like the UFC have used YouTube in the to broadcast some of their prelim fights in order to entice you to buy their PPV event later that evening.

Some of the benefits for a business to have a YouTube channel include:

  • Demonstarting Products
  • Creating a Community
  • Showing your Brand’s personality
  • Leveragine events and promotions
  • Solving Customer problems

And these are just to name a few, this list could take up 2 whole pages by itself.

YouTube’s Competition

YouTube has been the dominant force in the video marketing world for the better part of a decade, but 2015 will be the first time they will see some stern competition from the social media platforms which essentially helped them get as big as they are. Facebook and Twitter have upped their game in terms of their own video marketing and both have found ways to encourage users to upload their content natively, rather than through YouTube. Facebook’s algorithms now show content via YouTube further down users news feeds while they are more favourable to posts which include a video uploaded directly to Facebook. Twitter has just recently launched an update which allows users to directly tweet by video, something which their users had been screaming out for. With Facebook and Twitter taking video marketing to a new level, and other competitors out there such as Vimeo and Blip (but to a lesser extent) YouTube doesn’t necessarily own the video market anymore and they will have some work to do in 2015. This will alter how marketers and people will use YouTube for marketing.

Examples

Joe.ie (Irish Example)

Joe.ie has used YouTube extensively for their video content throughout their overall marketing. Joe.ie uses YouTube, consistently and effectively to drive traffic to their website and social platforms. Check out their YouTube Channel

Gary Vaynerchuk for Wine Library TV (International Example)

Gary Vaynerchuk literally changed how the online Video Blog (Vlog) system worked when he started Wine Library TV back in 2006. GaryVee as he often calls himself saw an opportunity which was being used but not to its fullest extent and jumped all over it when he started a wine tasting blog which went viral and skyrocketed the success of his business and eventually his overall personal brand. Check out Wine Library TV’s YouTube channel.

A great line up of speakers, a great location and a great team of volunteers and sponsors have come together to present The West of Ireland’s first ever Digital Summit and boy am I excited.

Online Marketing in Galway (OMiG) is a group of like-minded individuals who come together to share knowledge, experiences and provide a platform for small and medium businesses to make the most out of the online tools, resources and strategies available.

Maricka Burke Keogh, the founder of OMiG and the rest of OMiG team have really put in a huge amount of their spare time over the last couple of years to hold no less than 50 meet ups with great guest speakers and even the first OMiG Awards last year. This event is no different with the team pulling together lead by once more to create another first and the high standard of speakers for the event just prove that the work OMiG are doing is working and the group deserve all the success that comes its way. A special mention to David Glynn who has really driven the summit and without his hard work, it really would not have happened.

The event itself seeks to bring together proven thought leaders to discuss, debate and evaluate the area of digital marketing. This special panel includes the following:

I am delighted to be the Official Web Partner for OMiG and am looking forward to taking part in the exhibition, representing Cityweb at The Digital Summit. There will be many businesses involved in some aspect of digital marketing also exhibiting so a great opportunity to network with like-minded people is an added bonus.

I want to finish by saying thank you to Maricka and all of the OMiG volunteers who I have worked with since my involvement with OMiG and it is a delight to continue to work with a group that shares my passion for digital. I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday, 29 January 2015 at 18:30.

 

 

Is It Time To Reignite Your Email And Swap Your Blog For A Newsletter

You have a website, you have social media channels, but what other ways can you continue a conversation with your customers. A shift in how content is being presented to your online audience is occurring and it mainly surrounds the blog versus email newsletter dilemma.

A number of bloggers and businesses around the world are refocusing their efforts towards delivering a well-crafted email newsletter to either replace, or supplement their blog. So do you choose between writing a weekly blog posy, and writing a weekly newsletter, or try to combine both into a communication system, which works for you.

Why should you write a newsletter?

The main benefit from writing a newsletter is that it can enhance the relationship you currently have with your existing viewers. Every time you compose a newsletter and distribute it to your community, you hit an audience immediately that is already interested in what you have to talk to about.

Newsletters are also a nice and gentle way of pushing your business on potential customers. When you write a blog post, you have to hope that it is seen and that people discover it. Obviously there is RSS and great RSS services such as feedly.com but let’s be honest, not many of us subscribe to RSS Feeds anymore.

If the general person is like me, then they will not remember to check someone’s blog each week, no matter how interesting they may find the blogger and the content. With a newsletter, you can set a target to reach an interested audience of 2000 people who care about the problems your business seeks to solve through the products or services you offer. Over time, this 2000 people can become a reality and every time you hit send, you will reach an interested audience.

A newsletter also generally takes less time than a blog and works a different angle of communication. If you are lucky enough to have a large list of engaged users, there are great benefits of being able to reach them directly without having them look through your articles one-by-one.

Why you cannot forget about a blog?

If you want to grow your business or the reach of your content, you need to write blogs. They are more sharable; people can easily share good blogs across social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. My good mate, The Galway Player knows all about this as his business succeeds on social sharing and larger Irish examples such as Joe.ie and Her.ie are founded on this principle.

In SEO (Search Engine Optimization) terms, blog posts are excellent for building your website as they tie in with your SEO and social media, allowing you to develop a bigger audience as you progress. A newsletter, no matter how optimized, will not help you grow your ranking on Google.

Blog posts attract visitors to your website and gives people a reason to come back, especially if the content is deemed of enough value. Newsletters generally don’t help people come back to your website unless you have particular CTA’s (Call To Actions) that will drive them back.

The Solution to Blogging vs. Newsletters

Well, I’m afraid there are no obvious black and white answers here. We are well and truly in the grey. The best solution for you depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How many subscribers you already have to your newsletter
  • The time you have each week to place in writing content for blogs
  • The need you may have to bring new customers and readers.

My personal opinion is that blog posts and email newsletters (marketing) should exist side by side. Blog posts allow you to attract new readers and keep existing readers interested. Then conversations can happen around this each week, which may lead to increased subscribers to your email. The newsletter allows you to create a personal aspect to your communication that can encourage people to communicate directly with you.

Your blog is your home for the content you create which has an open door policy for new and existing readers to engage and interact while the newsletter is the tea on the table that offers your email subscriber family that little extra personal touch that drives even more communication.

Who are they and how have Cityweb helped them grow?

This week we are shining the spotlight on one of more recent clients; Riverside FootGolf. Firstly, FootGolf is a relatively new sport, which was officially started in The Netherlands only a few years ago. It is a sport that combines the rules of golf with the actions of football. Players kick a football from a tee-off into 50cm diameter hole in as little shots as possible. FootGolf courses are mostly 9 Hole or 18 Hole courses.

Riverside FootGolf is set in Cross, County Mayo, roughly a 30 minute drive from Galway City. The course is an 18 hole one and is currently the only 18 Hole course in Ireland outside of Dublin. It was only opened in June 2014 and between the month of June and mid-September, over 1,600 players of all ages, abilities and gender have played making it an instant hit in Galway and Mayo. They have been a hot online and have built a strong following on both Facebook and Twitter.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in seeing the business grow and was privileged to be able to design:

  • the clubs crest
  • flyers
  • road signs
  • score cards
  • and many others

Traditional Print material is still extremely important to most businesses and Riverside was no different. They required flyers that were well designed, showcasing the most important content in a clean, colorful and memorable structure. We also designed the clubs scorecards which are used by every single group of four or less that play the course day and day out while our road signs allow all new visitors to find their way easily to the course.

I also created a holding page for the Riverside FootGolf to ensure even though they were not ready to invest in a full web design project, they were still able to receive an extremely high quality web presence which shows the important information such as prices, location and a booking form. In early 2015, we will be launching their website which will be one of the most exciting projects we have had to date.

As final note, Riverside FootGolf are holding a tournament on Saturday October 25th and registration is €25.00 each and this includes a Polo T-shirt and two full rounds of FootGolf. Sounds like a great deal to us. You can sign up and register at the following link: https://halloweenfootgolfopen.eventbrite.ie

When is the best time to post content on Facebook and Twitter?

So your sitting down on a Monday morning and you are thinking about what you are going to post to Facebook this week. Questions such as what will people find interesting? How many posts should I make? Will I try something serious or put something lighthearted and fun out there?

Any of us who manage one or more social media pages have these types of questions running circles in our brains on a weekly basis. Even if you haven’t had these questions yet; fear not as the time will come when you do.

One of the major questions we ask ourselves concerns the best time to post; is it lunch time, maybe its just after 9:00am as people are getting settled at work, or is it evening time when they are at home and hopefully relaxing with their Facebook open. Timing is the first area and then what day of the week comes next. Are people on Facebook at the weekends, or is it on a Wednesday afternoon when the mid week slump kicks in that you should post.

I’m going to step quickly in to this topic of timing through looking at my experience combined with some common trends identified by Social Media Heavyweights including @postplanner, @trackmaven, and @socialmediaweek.

Knowing the best times to post mainly comes down to your own primary research. Every business is different and has a specific and unique collection of customers and fans online. Knowing what works best for your business comes down to simple trial and error, followed by trial and success, followed by trial and error. By testing different types of content on different days and at different times, you will be able to use the insights available to you on social media sites such as Facebook to measure engagement and reach and then correlate those findings with how many people are landing on your website or maybe even coming in to your premises.
That being said, this topic of the best day and times to post on Facebook and Twitter are actively discussed worldwide and although there is no definitive answer, the guys at Post Planner and firstly Track Maven have identified some of the current trends:

So when it comes to Facebook, most brands are publishing midweek and the busiest time for posts going up are between 12:00pm and 1:00pm. So they are the trends but the following is how users are actually behaving:

    • Engagement is massive over weekends.
    • The most interaction with posts occur on Sundays (I have found this with my business Riverside FootGolf)
    • Engagement increases after 9pm (For me this is after 7:30pm…..close enough I suppose!!)

On Twitter, most tweets occur during the week and it’s most active on a Thursday with brands and companies tweeting a lot less at weekends. However, user trends once again go against what brands are doing with:

    • Most retweets happening on Sundays and,
    • Most retweets happen as night descends on us.

So what I’m saying is either get used to posting and tweeting in the evenings and on weekends or start using the Facebook schedule tool and a high quality Tweet scheduler. By doing this, you can start to increase your online engagement by tapping in to the times when your customers feel most like engaging with you. A business can only achieve success online by posting content their customers find interesting at times their customers are online and willing to listen. Being online while you are in the office is just not enough anymore.

I’d love to hear your own thoughts and what your own experiences of the best days and times are to post. As I said, every business is different but for me I have found Sunday evenings the best for engagement.

Until next time you budding digital marketers and entrepreneurs.

When you’re starting a new post, or when you’re trying to add a new page/post to your current website, you will always be faced with the question: Should you hire a professional photographer or depend on some stock images?
In this article, I will try to be as detailed as possible to let you find the answer for the above question.

In the process of capturing the reader’s attention, any web page must be accented by images and pictures along with text. If used effectively, will then make a website attractive with impressive content.

Commercial images can be taken from many sites which provide a range of images free of cost; albeit being free of cost, these images are still of a high enough quality that they can be used by many professionals for designing and presenting.

These images are provided to stock websites by photographers, videographers and illustrators, who get paid when a visitor clicks the advertisements which appear beside their submitted images.

Some of the websites that offer free images include:

Other websites allow the use of their images when you obtain licenses for the re-usage. These licenses give the user the right to the use of pictures with no restrictions through completing a one-time payment to the licensor.

Some of the licenses that enable you to use images from websites are:

Royalty-free license

– This license allows the use of images without any time limitations, the number of copies that can be printed and the location of the use for a one-time fee. Price is based on the size of the images.

Rights managed license

– By using the rights managed license, the customer has to pay a fee every time they use an image, specifying the intention of how it is to be used, the area and duration. Price is based on the reason of use.

Creative common license

– By having a creative common license, you use images while credits are given to the original work. The original photographer or illustrator retains copyright of the work but can allow the image to be used by others in return for receiving credit for their work every time it is used.

Stock photography offers million of images, generally produced in studios using a variety of models posing and expressing various emotions to satisfy customer’s creative needs. They are very high quality images and you can find a relevant image for almost anything. They can can also be rather inexpensive to the extent that you can fill your website with images for under one hundred euros.

A stock photography license can be applied in both the categories of royalty-free and rights managed. The type of license to be chosen will depend on the intended use of the image. Websites provide easy ways of searching for images categorizing them by various attributes. These attributes include; a keyword, type of model, colour, and could also be conceptually wise similar visual features.

Some of the websites to search for commercial stock images are:

On the flip side, these images may not be exactly as you had hoped even despite the truth that these image are used very widely online and in many designs, they can often leave your site lacking the professional touch that your company should show.
In some cases you must hire a professional photographer for your images; for example, if your company works in construction, you have some unique products to sell, or you have your specialised restaurant.

If you need specific images and want to take the best decision for your enterprise, then we highly recommend hiring a professional photographer to ensure you get great-looking unique photos for exactly what you want, with your company’s touch. Although this would be considerably more expensive than stock photography, it would be the best choice for getting the job done right, even Superman would agree.

Finally, unless you are a photographer in a past life, do not try to expose your dark and shaky photos taken by your mobile’s camera on your website or design, because this will impact negatively on your company’s professional image.

Over a year ago now, I made the decision to join Online Marketing in Galway as a volunteer to network with other like minded people in Galway. Now I am an official partner, important team member and the resident website designer. OMiG is a non profit organisation which focuses on educating people on all areas of online marketing. It is a network group open to all businesses and professionals in the West of Ireland. Through sharing best practices and knowledge, it has grown into one of the largest networking groups in Galway.

Recently, OMiG organised and hosted its inaugural online marketing awards in association with The Connacht Tribune and the Galway City and County Enterprise Board where there was a total prize fund of over €26,000. I was a sponsor of one of the prizes at the awards along with my fellow OMiG Volunteers; Gary, Maricka, Robin, Julia, Eve, Emma, and Alan. We all pooled our individual specialities together to develop a prize fund for one particular award – The Start-Up

There were five finalists for this award with Mindful Movements eventually winning the overall prize. My prize to Mindful Movements was a fully responsive website valued at €2,000 which would be pivotal in building the awareness of this new Galway business.

You can find more images from The OMiG Awards 2014 on our facebook gallery page – here

Mindful Movements has been established in Liosbaun Industrial Estate by Sara O’Reilly to provide pilates classes using the advanced Reformer Bed Pilates method. The business is dedicated to helping individuals prevent injury; for rehabilitation; strengthening of core muscles; correction of posture imbalance and to also restore the connection between mind and body.

Classes are provided by Sara herself and she is one of Ireland’s leading practitioners in Pilates theory and application. Sara combines her pilates expertise with that of her background in choreography and dance to deliver a unique and rewarding class. Believe me when I say it as I have attended a Mindful Movements class and I can’t wait to go back. You can find out more about Mindful Movements by visiting her Facebook page.

I am really excited to work with Mindful Movements and develop a website for Sara which I hope will help grow her business and show the business in a way it deserves. My website combined with the other prizes from my fellow volunteers will allow Sara to grow the online marketing side of her business at no cost and through people skilled in these areas. Volunteers such as Gary (ION Connect), Julia (Julia Dunin Photography), Maricka (IMS Marketing), Robin (In-Tuition) and the Eve, Emma and Alan of Online Marketing in Galway have come together to help Mindful Movements drive forward over the next year.

I am really excited to begin work on this project and create something special for Sara and her customers. If you’d like to know more about me or my clients, follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook or even sign up for my newsletter.