Tips on improving your copywriting skills

Now is the time to start taking advantage of all the existing and emerging social media platforms currently available to you. Whether you are a business looking after your own social media campaigns, or a consultant working on behalf of a client, it important to get it right and this is where learning even the basics of copywriting skills will pay dividends.

Social media has been around for some time, initially these were great platforms to help build brand awareness and gain user interaction in fact they still are, however, in some instances they can be used to help drive traffic and improve conversion rates as well as playing a huge part in a business’s rankings with the many search engines.

Now is the time to start taking social media more seriously, whether it’s getting the basics right, or in understanding social media strategies, the following copywriting tips are worth remembering when using any media platform:

Spelling and Content

There is nothing worse than visiting a site that contains spelling mistakes or content that doesn’t read well, from a business perspective this will at best this makes the company look unprofessional and careless and at worst it can put a stop to any user interaction, rendering the whole process pointless.

Don’t beat about the bush

Whether you are writing a full page or trying to tweet a message in 140 characters or less, it is important that the message is to the point, any followers will simply lose interest if the message is “wordy” and not to the point, this doesn’t mean avoid having a personality it just means be clear and concise in what you are trying to convey.

Don’t lose the connection

Keep a clear connection between your brand image and social media personality it is an all too common mistake for many brands using social media, for example, a company may have the perception of being vibrant, new and exciting, but their social media activity may not reflect this, so write in a way that will enhance your brand image, whatever that may be.

Be creative!

It is important to focus on getting the user to click on a link, or to look at something you have shared, one way to do this is to be a little more creative with your posts or tweets, so instead of tweeting, “Here are some copywriting tips”, you could create more interest for example by saying, “For tips on improving your copywriting skills, follow this link”.

Make time!

It is all too easy to forget about updating social media content, especially if you are busy, however, every little helps, one way is to set yourself reminders to send out a tweet or update your status at various intervals during the day even if you can’t find time to post a full article.

Set aside some time to actually engage in online conversations with others, the more “active” you are the better this will be for your company’s exposure.

Most of all – Enjoy it!

The whole point of social media is to engage with others this is why it is important to enjoy the experience and not go for the hard sell which will put people off.

Potential customers or clients would rather take time to talk and engage with a company that is actively seeking their interaction rather than abruptly trying to push their products or services onto them.

Above all have fun! this will show in the way you write and the way other people perceive you or your business don’t see it as a chore but rather an integral and important part of online marketing.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

How to Gather Better Requirements for Custom Software Development

Deciding the business requirements when going bespoke can be quite difficult this is because software and business systems can become very complex and as a result there are lots of places where miscommunication and assumptions can occur.

So why is “going bespoke” any different, there are many other industries where a contracted individual creates something for a customer, building construction for instance; for example when you buy a home from a builder.

Usually the builder has various show homes that you can visit and look around, usually they have examples of all of the different options that you could purchase for your new home, and in any case people are generally familiar with houses, they know what to expect and they know what not to expect, so in reality when you purchase a home from a builder there are relatively few choices that you make and the choices that you do make as a customer are things that you are very familiar with.

In software development this would be similar to purchasing a software product that is already built and then modifying it. It’s a fairly low risk undertaking and you usually get the chance to try out a version of the actual software you are going to purchase.

However, custom software development is a whole different “kettle of fish”, It is much more like designing your own house.

When designing your own house there isn’t an example you can go visit, whilst a builder could point out certain features of other similar buildings that you could see, often you are left only with a set of plans or drawings of what the final structure will look like.

It can be hard for the customer to visualize what the finished structure is going to look like, ok you can look at the plans and see that a bedroom is going to be 10′ x 15′ but it is a little more difficult to really get a sense for what that room is going to feel like when you walk in or how the furniture will fit, how quiet it will be etc.

The same is true for bespoke software development. It can be quite difficult for non-technical customers to really be able to visualize the finished system and how it is going to work, and because they can’t really see the completed system in their mind, it can be very difficult for them to explain to the developer how it is supposed to work.

So what should you do? Here are some best practices that can be followed when developing a requirements document for bespoke software applications.

Draw a “model” on paper whenever you can, create examples of how you want your software to work give examples of major functional features so that you and your staff can “walk through” different screens and functions, get a better feel for how things might look and work.

Map out prototypes that walk through complex functionality and “use cases”

Create mock ups of key screens that show as much functionality as possible use something like Visio tm (Microsoft) or Pencil (http://pencil.evolus.vn/en-US/Home.aspx) which is a free open source tool but there are many more

Create annotated visual functional requirements documents. I have written a few functional requirements documents over the years and have found that if your requirements document is entirely text that describes every piece of the system, people will generally just nod their head and say yes to everything.

The truth is that no matter how eloquently you write and how painstakingly you describe your requirements, people by their very nature prefer things to be visual, they need to see it to really understand how it is going to work, where possible you should always add a diagram or flowchart.

Remember you are striving to improve the transfer of knowledge between yourself and the developer. The more the developer knows about your business the better they will understand the problems, the better they will be at describing the solution.

Bespoke software development can be quite challenging, however, with a little work you can make the knowledge transfer between you and developer much more efficient.

Alternatively, leave it to the professionals, get them to do the hard work whilst leaving you to “sanity-check” and simply approve the final requirements.

At CodeSpinner we have over 25 years experience of producing specifications and requirements.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk

Bespoke Software Fills The Gap!

Bespoke software fills the gap between off-the-shelf solutions and your business requirements.

Purchased off-the-shelf solutions often provide most of the functionality a business needs, but often they find that their business processes don’t quite match the generic processes these solutions provide, not only that but often you are paying for functionality you probably don’t want and functionality you don’t need.

An example is where businesses use a standard accounting package that doesn’t match their sales order processing process, bespoke software can fill this gap, enabling you to take advantage of the lower costs associated with these types of applications and investing in the specific needs that these solutions don’t provide.

There are numerous other examples where bespoke software can help you, as a business, make the most of your existing investments

Examples of where bespoke software can help are with duplication, where information has to be entered multiple times into various different applications, this is not only a labour intensive operation but often leads to errors resulting in data varying between one application and another.

Don’t discount your existing solutions just because they don’t quite fit as often bespoke software can provide a viable solution without having to re-invent the wheel! Customised solutions of vertical market applications can offer huge savings and enable you to harness the functionality that drew you to the specific product in the first place.

At CodeSpinner, we focus on working with SME’s, these are our core market and we believe we understand them because we are one as well. This is important because we understand the business issues that our clients face.

Some questions you should be asking are:

  • Do we know what our business needs in order to be able to choose the right solution?
  • Does the software developer understand our business? Do they have a process that will enable them to find out?
  • Do they undertake a full requirements capture that challenges our needs?
  • Do we go down the off-the-shelf route, or do we go for a bespoke solution?
  • Will the end product give us the functionality we require to solve the key business issues which highlighted the need in the first place?
  • Can we live with 70-80% of the functionality we require if we utilise an off-the-shelf solution?

Whilst this not a definitive list of questions these will certainly help kick-start the process you then start to think about your requirements more fully.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk

Why Does My Business Need A Website?

When did you last pick up the yellow pages, most people have them there was a time when you eagerly awaited the next issue, there was a time when it was your first port of call if you needed anything other than a friend or relative, these days that has all but gone I can’t even find our copy at home, in fact I think the last time I had ours was to kill a spider J

Nowadays the first thing most of us reach for is anything connected to the internet, a phone, a tablet, a laptop or desktop computer anything with a search engine.

Whatever your business you need to be “searchable” on the web and appear as high in the resultant list as possible, at Codespinner we can achieve this for you at no extra cost, not only that we can make sure you stay there. Remember rightly or wrongly customers will often judge whether or not to do business with you on the basis of your website OR lack of one.

Frequently asked questions.

Will It will cost a lot of money. At Codespinner our websites are fixed price, you know immediately how much it will cost I can even will tell you without knowing anything about your business, your site will be unique, professional, effective and to your exact specification – but the cost won’t change.

My competition hasn’t got one. If they haven’t then they should, more and more businesses do more of their selling online why wait until competitors are ahead of you.

I can get one free on the web. True, you could build a free website to a standard template which looks like every other free site in your area of business, the colours may be slightly different, the pictures may be slightly different but otherwise it’s the same, if there are any features built in that improve your search engine results then they are built in for every other business that has created the template site, besides if it’s free how much support and help will you get if you have any problems.

My products/services don’t change that often. Maybe not, but surely you have News about your business, you have promotions and sales drives surely you would like to interact with your customers or potential customers, what about when your business is “out-of-hours” with a website there is no such thing, your business is working for you 24/7.

They didn’t have SEO when I was a child. J not even going to attempt answer that one other than to say at Codespinner we do it all for you.

It isn’t enough to just have a website; you must have a professional looking site if you want to be taken seriously. If your site looks unprofessional or like a “free template website” then your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.

One of the great things about the internet is that it has levelled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys.

Why Should I Blog!

Whether you are a one man/woman business, boss of a small business or even the CEO of a multi-national you simply cannot afford not to blog.

The days when blogging was a niche pastime for spotty kids or bored students is long gone, the reasons today for blogging are many, not least of which is to promote your business.

So what are the reasons?

Blogs give you a way to reach out to clients.

One reason is to allow you to open a dialogue between you, your customers and your potential customers. You most likely have a good idea who your customers are, which products or services they are buying but how well do you know the customer.

Sure leaflets, newsletters and advertising will allow you to get your message across but blogging allows them to speak up as well.

The comment or response functionality of your blog allows your customers to tell you what they think as well as allowing them to learn more about your business.

This allows you to interact with your customers learn more about what they want, their needs, if the customer thinks you care, if they believe you are interested in what they have to say they are more likely to stay with you; there is no greater sales tool than word of mouth from satisfied customers.

Blogs can increase traffic to your business site.

Another reason is SEO If you’re having trouble with search engine ranking for your website then a blog might just be what you need. We all know that search engines love blogs. With some strategic blogging, you can increase traffic to your business website. And if someone finds your blog through keywords in a search engine result, they are probably part of the audience you are trying to reach.

If you are constantly posting new articles to your blog, then you can be sure that the search engines will notice. Keep adding new articles and useful content to your blog and you can expect your page ranking to improve.

You can build a following

When you post good information on a regular basis you will build a group of loyal followers. In time, they will get to know you and your business; your readers can become your biggest champions, providing referrals and leads.

A blog is much easier to maintain than a newsletters or electronic mailing list and what’s more, the contact between the business and the customers is immediate since your blog can easily be updated from wherever you have computer access. If you need help to setup your blog or just need advice about a web presence then we at CodeSpinner can help we offer a full range of services and skills at affordable prices.

Of course, blogging isn’t for everyone. It takes time, a commitment and accurate, interesting relevant material, you will need to post regularly, provide information that’s valuable to your customers, and be willing to interact with and learn from them.

One of the biggest challenges for bloggers is sticking to a regular schedule, we are all busy, and a blog post is yet another item on the to-do list, but once you start writing, especially if you are writing about something you’re passionate about, it just starts to flow and ultimately you will be glad you did it…and hopefully you’ll be advancing your business prospects in the process.

For a free ebook entitled “Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy” visit CodeSpinner

If you would like to learn more about blogging, or would simply like to discuss your online presence or website requirements contact me at:

Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Tel: 07850 009750

10 Top SEO Tips

Content must be unique.
You need to provide content that is unique it’s no good copying content from other sites the search engines will look at identical content and work out who created it.

Add new content all the time.
Sites that are adding content on a regular basis are seen as more reliable this also helps you to increase the amount of relevant content on your site, which in turn improves your rankings.

Keyword Analysis
The first thing you should do when working on search engine optimization is find which keywords and phrases to use for your site. Keyword analysis is an on-going task in SEO

Choose a keyword phrases that are popular, but not too popular.
When trying to decide on a keyword phrase, you want to find one that is popular but not extremely popular. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the reality is that extremely popular keywords are very desirable and so very competitive. It’s better to try to optimize for keywords that you can rank higher with. You will generate more page views from a less popular keyword when you are on the first or second page of the search engines, than from a popular keyword that only gets you on to page 50 of the search engines.

Create an accessible site.
Makes sure the HTML is accessible to both search engine spiders and screen readers. The more accessible you make your pages, the easier it will be for search engines to read and rank your pages (check the pages against http://validator.w3.org).

Use your chosen keyword phrase in your title tag.
The title tag is one of the most important tags on your Web page it is the first tag the search engines look at and is often overlooked. Placing your keyword phrase in the title tag, preferably at the beginning is very important to get that phrase into the search engines. Plus it puts your keyword phrase as the link in the search engine index.

If possible get a domain with your keyword phrase in.
Putting your keyword phrase in your domain name is a great way to optimize for that phrase.

Use the keyword phrase in your URL.
Even if you can’t get your keywords into your domain name, you can put them into your page URLs. Search engines read the URLs and assign value to the text they find there.

Use your keyword phrase often, but not too much.
The ratio of your keywords phrases to the rest of the text on your page is called the keyword density. It’s important to repeat your keywords in your document, but not too much. Keyword density should be between 3% and 7% for your primary keyword phrase and 1%-2% for any secondary keywords or keyword phrases.

Use your keyword phrase in anchor text of links.
Link text is another great place to put your keyword phrase, links stand out on most web pages, and so are given higher priority than surrounding text.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to perform the SEO tasks for you and get your site noticed contact me at:

Tel: 07850009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk

Why do I need a website?

How many businesses today still remark “why do I need a website?” and how many business have a website that looks fantastic, has flash, video, sound and music, cost a fortune and doesn’t attract a single customer.

At Codespinner in Hull our local advisors are all trained in sales, marketing and website design, we do not simply employ graphic designers to make pretty looking websites. Your website should be a business tool that should benefit your business.

There are three main ways a website can help your business:

  • Save Money
  • Save Time
  • Make Money

A website is the most flexible and cost effective way to keep in contact with your customers, inform them of your latest offers/events/news. Studies have shown that regular communication with your customers will improve loyalty to your business and therefore they’re likely to spend more with your business.

At Codespinner we know exactly how to fine tune your website to your marketing activities to ensure you spend less but gain more from your campaigns.

How do you advertise currently? A website will allow you to advertise yourself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Direct them to your website that provides full details about your business, a website provides a second shop window to attract more customers and raise the profile of your business over a greater area. Can you afford not to have one?

If you would like a free consultation with no hard sell, at a time and place of you choosing contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Or visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk

for all your website and online profile requirements in Hull, Bridlington and East Yorkshire

Starting a business on a shoestring

Make sure there is a demand for your service or products.

Unless you are rich and can stand the losses you don’t have room for trial and error, a business needs demand to survive and it doesn’t matter if its products you are selling or a service you are providing.  Market research is a must.

No Excess fat.

Forget the fancy office, fancy shop and the company BMW, if you can start from home if you are in the business of sales consider online or markets and fairs, rent instead of buy if you and your business are viable then the rest will come with time.

Illusion – Look bigger than you are.

Build a professional website (or have one built for you) don’t let people know you are a one man band working from home, answer the phone professionally it costs nothing look for special offers there are plenty of companies offering a batch of business cards cheap, you may get a better deal if the same company produces the rest of the stationary, haggle they need your business and expect haggling when you are selling the less expenses the better you need money coming in.

Passion

if you haven’t a passion for your business then save your money and carry on working for someone else. Believe me things are going to be hard if you are not committed then don’t do it working for yourself is hard work, you will need to go the extra mile if you are to succeed, long hours, heartache and disappointment precede a successful business.

 Balance the Books!

When possible take the cash option, you won’t have the luxury of 60 or 90 days credit, so where possible get the money from your customers as quickly as possible if your service takes time ask for a deposit or staged payments get the cash coming in and keep it that way

If you hold a stock purchase only what you can sell, avoid overstocks which are often sold later at a reduced profit or even a loss.

Reinvest.

Once the money starts coming in keep a percentage to re invest in the business, avoid taking from the business if possible the flash car will wait a month or so, remember anything sold must be replaced if you are to keep going.

Choose an online profile partner

A huge percentage of purchases are made online, in fact people research online before purchasing, all businesses these days require an online presence, we can supply a website at a fixed cost, the site will not only look good but will work for your business and regardless of the number of pages you require the price is fixed take a look at our site (Here)  to see what you get

And finally!

Good Luck!

Software Development

Fixed price web site design

2012 Business Plans

Hi,

Well christmas is over for another year, now is the time to take a long hard look at your business plans for the new year, unless you are 100% happy with your advertising. online profile or amount of business you had last year (and how many of us are 🙂 ) now is the time to get someone to look at your online profile.

At Activ we not only build fixed price web sites, but we also look at the bigger picture, sure for £499 your not going to get all the bells and whistles  but you  will get enough of them to make sure your site works for your business rather than just sit there looking pretty. Companies can spend a fortune on a web presence which their web designer tells them they need, it will probably look fantastic with images gliding gracefully across the screen whilst christmas video’s play in the corner and snow gently slides down the screen but chances are, after 6 months the site will still be looking just as pretty and still not generating business for you. just look at some of the highest grossing sites, amazon.co.uk, is it the best looking site you ever saw?, how about PC World, Argos to name but a few, the difference between these companies is that their site are built to a) work for the business and b) be easy to use by the customer, do you visit these sites to sit and look at the graphics or sit and watch a 5 minute video of their products whizzing around the screen.. No and they know that.

The point I am trying to make is if you want a site that works hard for your business then come and talk to us (Activ) , if you want the site to just look pretty we probably can’t help you.

We offer a full range of help and advice to make your online presence the best we can from fixed price wesites £499, to full e-Commerce sites at £999 as well consultancy, photography in fact everything you need online.

Happy New Year!

For all you online profile advice and web sites in Hull and Bridlington Codespinner Ltd

or call 07850 009750, email: info@codespinner.co.uk

Created Twitter…

Created Twitter & Facebook accounts ready for the Activ franchise areas to build websites in Hull & websites in Bridlington also setup ready for Activ Rotherham Social watch this space….