Filter The NoiseBlog

We blog about design, technology, internet marketing and business on the web. As the name implies, we aim to "filter the noise" and share only the most relevant information. Feel free to chime in anytime with your thoughts and comments. Established 2004 in Colorado Springs, Colorado by HighTouch Web Design and Internet Marketing.

Social Media : Which One to Use

Kim Kolb - Saturday, May 16, 2009
How many social media networks do you belong too?  I have 4 that I am working to fine tune.  I use Twitter @hightouchweb and @kim_kolb,  I have a Linked In account, a Facebook account, and our Filter the Noise Blog.

Many of our clients have no clue what social media is, or they are really excited about getting into Social Media and that is where it stops, or they are terrified by what is to become of them with the social media frenzy.  At first it can be overwhelming by trying to understand all the ins and outs of the whole "social media etiquette".  The best thing is to dive in and start swimming.  Let's face it, all the news media, talk shows, celebrities and even restaurants are using Twitter.  Our local soccer association is on twitter.  They keep us updated on cancellations, scores, and changes in events.    

As a company, keeping your customers engaged is essential to keeping your Brand on their mind.  Gone are the days of long drawn out email blasts to let customers know what is going on.  Why not get them following you on Twitter.  140 characters lets you tell them what is important.  As technology grows our attention spans decrease.  If you can't get the point across in 140 characters, maybe you need to rethink your message.

Twitter has increased 1,382% year-over-year in February, registering more than 7 million unique visitors in the US for the month, according to Mashable, The Social Media Guide.  Twitter is by far the easiest and quickest tool to use.  

If you have yet to get involved in the Social Media Movement, you may want to take some time to start.  Get involved, be informed, and stay in touch.  

Look for our webinar on Social Media 101: Setting Up The Beginner, at the end of the month. Contact us now if you are interested.

Which Social Media tools are you using?  Which ones would you not use?  I would love to hear feedback.

Turn Deal Breakers into Deal Makers

Dave Kolb - Friday, April 24, 2009
Every business has high-maintenance customers. You know...the ones who are always complaining, the ones that call at 4:59PM on a Friday, or the ones nobody wants to deal with. The ones who criticize your products and threaten to leave...but never do. As a business owner, it's tough to hear criticism without taking it personally, becoming defensive and wanting this recession to go away so all the bad customers would go away and you could replace them with great, new customers who love you services and recommend them to everyone they know. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen in good times or bad. We just notice it more in bad times.

Reach out to your "bad customers" and see if you can do better by "serving them better" That's right, give in to the ego and start listening to what they have to say. Chances are, they might hold the key to opening up new markets, and/or missed opportunities. Remember: We're in a recession and they are evolving too. Just as you're stuck with them, they may be feeling the same way. Your goal should be to take your worst customer and turn them into your "best testimonial".  Think Southwest Airlines, Netflix, and Apple.

What to do?


  1. Talk to your "bad customers" (preferably face to face) and ask how you can better serve them. This will give you insight on what "the market is thinking", as well as how you can better serve their needs. Remember: check the ego at the door and be open-minded to every suggestion they have. You can sort things out later.
  2. Shop their problems to the competition. Create a profile of "your" customer's pain points and shop them to the competition. See how they deal with those issues. If they are poorly addressed, or not at all, there's an opportunity! If your competition is already addressing "your customer pain points" you may be losing business. 
  3. Look at your business model and find ways to help your customers afford your products and services. Try different packages and promotions that specifically address your "pain point profile".  
  4. Turn deal breakers into deal makers. Once you've figured out how to better server your bad customers, make sure you tell the world what you've done. Example: If you determine all your bad customers want is timely telephone support, as opposed to email support, make sure you boast about that to new prospects. You may find that's what closes the deal.

Social Media Frenzy: Time and Benefits

Kim Kolb - Friday, April 17, 2009
Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In....AHHH.  I know what your thinking...I don't have enough time in the day to get regular work done let alone this.  Breathe.....Yes, the Social Media Frenzy can seem overwhelming at times.  Believe me, it is overwhelming to talk about it.  I get so excited about  the two I am using right now, that I get that "deer in the headlights look" from people I am talking too.

Time seems to be a factor when talking to people about Social Network Marketing as well as what to say.  I tell my clients, sign up for the accounts and then start linking and following others to get an idea.  This usually gets them jumped started.  The time factor those is like with anything new you start.  It will take a little time to get your profile set up, but once you have that and you start inviting people to follow you and  you following them, it because exciting and almost addicting.. Soon they will have a Social Media Anonymous. :)

A recent report put out by Marketing Charts provides a range of the amount of hours people spend working their Social Media Marketing.


48% of those surveyed said their efforts resulted in more qualified leads and 35% said it helped them close more business.  Below is a chart to depicted what areas benefited the most.


This next chart is kinda mind boggling since Social Media was started by marketers, yet a lot of marketers I know haven't even tipped their toe in the water. 



Should Your Business Be Social?

Kim Kolb - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Absolutely!  In fact a 2008 cone Business in Social Media study showed:

  • 93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media
  • 85% believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media
  • 56% of American consumers feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.
If you company is not networking socially via the many avenues available, you could be missing out on thousands of business connections.  People are using Social Media venues to communicate with others more than email, 85% to 65% as of last year. 

Social networking is also a way to better your search results when someone is trying to find your type of business.  Social networking is like having a 24/7 after hours... You meet new and interesting people who you could provide your services too or that you could use their services.  Don't wait to long to get connected.  Below I list some of those popular Social Media Venues.  I have not gotten into all of them, but I am working on it.

I’ve focused my personal efforts around FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter but am willing to expand.

Here is link to the webinar I attended with Hubspot that has made me a believer is Social Networking.  

The Numbers Don't Lie

Dave Kolb - Friday, April 10, 2009
According to Net Applications

Search Engine Market Share (Full Report)
  1. Google holds 81% of the Search Engine Marketshare
  2. Yahoo has 10%
  3. MSN has 3%
  4. Microsoft Live Search has 3%
  5. AOL has 2%
  6. The rest are irrelevant

Web Browser Market Share (Full Report)
  1. Internet Explorer (all versions) holds 67% (this was a lot lower than I thought)
  2. Firefox has 22%
  3. Safari 8.23%
  4. Google Chrome 1%
  5. The rest are irrelevant

Screen Resolutions (Full Report)
  1. 83% are viewing on screens larger than 1024x768
  2. Only 4% are viewing on 800x600 (Yippie)!
  3. 13% are reporting "other" (iPhones, Net Machines???)

Tweet. Tweet. Another Newspaper Bytes The Dust

Dave Kolb - Friday, February 27, 2009

Goodbye Rocky Mountain News :-(


Rocky Mountain News - Last IssueThe Rocky Mountain News has been in trouble for some time now--however, I just realized today that my son will never be a paperboy. But, thanks to Twitter--he has a shot at being a journalist or even a publisher at age 6! That's right. See, even on Twitter, it's "ok" if you mis-spell words or occasionally don't make sense. You don't even have to tell the truth, you can just make it up as you go along and speak what's on your mind. The more tweeting you do, the more people will believe you.  Sounds like marketing, not journalism. 

On one hand...this could be good for business--but, on the other it is starting to become clear that we will be losing more than newspapers. We are going to start losing images and archives of Americana that will be tough to replace. We'll also start losing a very important "fact check" on what we are currently getting from Blogs, Twitter, MSNBC, CNN, etc. 

We are watching the very slow death of an American Institution.

Be Careful...

In a 24/7 instant news cycle, we rely on sound bites and tweets to get our news. That's right, all the cool news anchors are using Twitter to get their news from folks with opinions--not news. Who checks this stuff? The media is so competitive right now that they jump the gun to launch or leak a story.  Newspapers, by virtue of being newspapers demand a slower, more methodical process of checks and balances. I can't tell you how many times I've seen "news" online, or on one of the "news channels" and then NOT seen the story anywhere in a newspaper (even a major one like the New York Times). Why? 

Because it wasn't news. 

Simple Low Cost Plan to Improve Your Web Site Today

Dave Kolb - Friday, December 26, 2008

Focus on the 4 steps below to make the web an effective, revenue generating channel for your business.

1. Develop Great Content

Potential customers are searching for information and they are using search engines to find information that meets their needs. Search engines give more weight to targeted, valuable content, so if you want your business to be towards the top of the search results, you need to have valuable content on your chosen topic. When you re-design your web site: Focus on the information need of your visitors, not on making the sale.

2. Establish Creditability and Trust

The Internet is a low trust environment and means potential customers will ask questions to convince themselves that they can trust you. You need to build credibility immediately, or people will leave.

Questions they will ask themselves might include:

  • Does this business really exist?
  • How long has this business been around, and will they still be here tomorrow?
  • If I buy or contact this business, will my details be safe?
  • Will I receive my purchases, or will the promises made by the business be held?
  • What type of post-sales support will I receive after receiving the product?

How to establish and foster creditability and trust:

  1. DEFINE WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO.
  2. Educate visitors and provide FREE advise via a company blog.
  3. Display how long you’ve been in business. Include photos of your team, board of directors, etc.
  4. Use Customer Testimonials strategically throughout the web site.
  5. Put your business contact details on every page.
  6. Include any memberships you have and/or business associations you belong to (e.g. Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Housing and Building Association, etc.)
  7. Create a Community (e.g. Forums)—an extremely powerful credibility tool, as it often achieves points 1, 3 and 4 all at once. Plus you allow customers to talk to each other and spread the word first hand to new customers.
  8. Capture Customer Feedback—give visitors a mechanism to contact you easily to provide feedback or ask questions.

3. Convert Browsers to Buyers

Conversion is the art of turning an information seeker into a customer. It’s hard work, but developing your content and establishing your credibility, go a long way to helping with conversion. Identify your conversion goals and design you web site around those goals. Your web site should have at least two goals.

A primary goal is brings in money to your business:

  • A sale in your online shop
  • A reservation for a seminar or workshop

A secondary goal gives you an opportunity to achieve your primary goal later:

  • Request more information (RFI) form
  • Email newsletter subscription
  • RSS subscription to a blog
  • Registration to a forum
  • Everybody likes FREE stuff, so if you can offer something in exchange for information you collect.

The key things you can work on to improve conversion are:

  • Identify and refine your “Conversion funnel”. A Conversion funnel is the path you identify that begins where the customer is starting down the path to conversion, and ends after the conversion is made. A funnel needs to be designed to build comfort in the purchase, not be too many steps or be too complicated, but also not be too short. Funnels that are too short result in a “half-baked” customer who isn’t sure if they want to buy yet!
  • Use “Calls to Action”. A call to action is something like “Buy now”, “Click here”, or “Get started today”. You should include these both in your site to start users down the conversion funnel but also within the conversion funnel to drive them to action.
  • Use the secondary goal to “catch” people who fall out of the primary conversion funnel. By placing secondary goals strategically in the site, you can catch those potential customers who aren’t 100% convinced.

4. Provide Great Customer Service

Getting new customers is the most important piece of your business because the cost of acquisition of a customer is always higher than the cost of retention. For you to go out and go through the previous 3 steps and get a new customer is time consuming and requires effort—and money. So the last step is about how you can keep your customers happier and retain their business for as long as possible, as cost-effectively as possible. Key things to remember are:

  • Customers are expensive to acquire
  • Customers can find your competitors online very easily
  • Customers online are impatient—they want service NOW
  • The Customer has the “high ground” because the Internet gives them greater power to choose and compare you with your competitors

There are several key ways to increase your customers’ retention rates, including:

  • Run loyalty building advertising campaigns. Loyalty campaigns are targeted marketing campaigns that leverage your knowledge of your customer. An example of such a marketing campaign is a birthday campaign that goes out before my birthday to offer me a special deal: “Happy Birthday: Buy one T-shirt and get one free in your birthday month”
  • Provide exemplary service with fast response times. When you receive a lead, inquiry or support request, react as quickly as possible. Better yet, you should be receiving emails and SMS's notifying you of customers’ requests.
  • Don’t waste time—provide useful FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to allow your customers to find answers to their simpler questions without having to contact you.
  • Build a relationship. Use the right tools to keep track of your correspondences with customers, and make sure you can share knowledge about your customers.

Each of these 4 items work in concert with one another, linking together to create a winning process that helps you generate more leads and ultimately make more money out of your online business. Watch your web site analytics and adjust accordingly.

Great Design From a Local Restaurant

Dave Kolb - Friday, October 10, 2008
Your phone number is "one tap" away.

I was coming home from work the other day and pulled up a local restaurant's website on my iPhone.  First of all, I was not driving...I'm firmly against the "I'm going to try and drive, have a smoke, tune the radio and reply to my daughter's text before the light turns green" technique. That's another post...

I pulled up the website and the phone number was right there in front of me (as expected).  Not only was it there, but it was hyperlinked and when I tapped it, my iPhone swiftly dialed the number and I was immediately connected to the restaurant. 

Wow, talk about the Internet doing exactly what it's supposed to do! I was so impressed by this simple feat of great web design that I started searching the web for other brilliant designers. Not many others get it.  In fact, there seems to be a conspiracy to "hide" the phone number and replace it with a web form that my fat fingers will never fill out on a phone.  But, one tap to get a human?  It doesn't get any better than that! Best of all...it's easy to do.

If you are going to rush off and get your contact info on the homepage, here' s some advise.  If possible:

  1. Put it above the fold
  2. Do NOT make it an image (phones can transform .jpgs or .gifs into numbers)
  3. If you can, get a unique phone number from your phone provider so you can track the ROI on this simple, low cost investment. Only use this number on your website and measure away.

Think SEO When Considering a Content Management System

Dave Kolb - Friday, September 26, 2008

SEO Requirements when considering a Content Management System (CMS)

If you're planning on getting serious about SEO, you need a good Content Management System (CMS). Whether or not you do it in house, or outsource the SEO work, an intuitive, SEO-based CMS system will save you loads of money in the long run.

Here's why: There's no magic to SEO. Sure, there are a few general guidlines to follow when properly optimizing content, but a lot of the work is trial and error. A good CMS will allow you, or your SEO professional to modify text and keywords without EVER accessing the code. This will save time for whoever is doing it, thereby saving you money. When considering a Content Management System (CMS) for your website redesign, there are some very important SEO requirements you should consider. Any CMS you consider should allow you to modify the following with ease:

  • Page title
  • URL (especially the stuff after the ".com/")
  • Page Headings (H1 tags)
  • Hyperlink text
  • 301 Redirect pages you want to remove, or point to other pages (very important)
  • Navigation text
  • Meta keywords
  • Meta description

If you are evaluating a CMS without all the above requirements, you should look elsewhere.

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