Our Flagship Product: Synapse

A Project Manager is one of the most integral parts of the Technology team here at Zinc. We’re often developing a number of platforms and portals at the same time, and our Project Manager is the person responsible for keeping everything on track. They’ll be the go-between for the clients and their development team, there from the initial meeting where we work out what you’re looking for from your product, writing up the technical specification and delivering it to the developers, and then monitoring the progress to keep things on schedule.

We asked one of our Project Managers to talk us through an average workday

Before Work

I like to get up early to get a headstart on the day. I’ll get up and get ready for work, then I’ll quickly check my emails to make sure that nothing urgent has come in overnight. Because we work with offshore developers it’s not unusual to get updates or questions through in the night, so I like to make sure that everything is going smoothly.

9:00

By 9am, I’m in the office and the workday has officially started. I always start with my inbox, sorting through the emails that have accumulated overnight and sorting these into priority levels. If there is anything that needs working on with the development team, I’ll make sure to jump on these first before their workday ends.

9:30

On this day, there was a meeting for the whole of the Systems Team to discuss the progress we’ve been making on our system upgrades as well as some new policies and processes. We met with the Technology department and directors to look at the plans for our future and how we were achieving them.

10:00

Our team does a daily stand-up to go over our aims and priorities for the day. This helps us focus and evaluate priorities in a fast paced work environment. Following this, I sat down with another Project Manager who wanted to discuss a project with me. We reviewed what had already been completed, discussed the options moving forward and whether we could add further value to the product.

10:45

There’s a call at 11 with a new client, so I spent a few minutes ahead of time to prepare for the call. I looked over the emails we’ve exchanged to date and realigned myself with what they’re looking for. When they call, I demonstrated our Synapse platform for them and talked through their requirements from us so that I can pass this on to our Technical Architects.

11:45

A key client needs an additional development on an existing project, so I meet with Paul (COO) to work out how we can work it into their project taking into account timelines, the impact on other projects, contractor options and stakeholder management.

12:30

I meet with one of our Product Engineers to discuss the roadmap for our Synapse product.

13:15

Time for a quick lunch break before my call with our Development team later!

14:00

Each Friday I have a weekly retrospective with the Developers to review the progress made and confirm the plans for the next sprint. This is before the offshore office closes at 15:00 UK Time.

14:30

We’ve launched a new live guarding feature to one of our clients, so I spend some time creating acceptance criteria in Gherkin language. This is a list of actions and outcomes that the client is looking for so that when developers receive their specification, they know exactly what’s required. This ensures that when the product gets to the testing stage, we’ll know what the intended requirements are. Gherkin is a way of writing that provides a structured document that works alongside our reporting software to keep everything in one place.   

15:00

I take a trip to a nearby client to see how they’re getting on with their platform and review the engagement that they’ve had on it over the last month.  

16:15

Once I’m back from my client visit, I’ll revisit my email list from earlier and send some answers to clients who have been in touch through the day.

17:00PM

Each Friday I get the Project Team together to discuss the key projects and goals for the upcoming week. This enables me to forsee any scheduling issues or client conversations I need to have, as well as making sure my team have all the resources they need to get everything done.

17:30

There’s a new prospect in the pipeline, so I have a phone call with them and create an initial proposal document for them with a suggested product based on their needs. This will be sent over to them to approve or discuss with me next week.

18:30PM

I finish preparing for Monday’s tasks, send my final emails to clients and set off for home! If it’s a Friday, the Team might be over at the pub so I’ll be able to join them!

Our Projects and Products team work long and hard to make sure that the solutions that Zinc produce are high quality. If you’d like a chat with the team, get in touch here!

Being creative day in, day out is harder than you’d think! Although it can sound like the best job in the world, when creativity becomes your day job, it’s easy to get burned out. Sitting down at a desk and waiting for ideas is tough, but agency life waits for no man. We’ve got clients excited for their new site, brands waiting for their new look, and more in the pipeline. So, how do we keep things fresh and the inspiration coming?

Although there’s an image that many people have of the isolated creative, we think that the best ideas come from a strong team. This way, we’re able to support each other and offer a fresh perspective on a design or concept that we know will work for the designer because we know their style and the way they think.

One of the ways we do this is through what’s known as a design workout. It’s an idea we stumbled upon that has become one of our team’s favourite ways to press the reset button on our creativity.  

If you or your design team needs a boost, here’s how to get moving on your own design workout.

Find a new space

The last place you should be doing a creativity workshop in is at your desk, the same place you sit every day and search for ideas. Sometimes it truly is as easy as a change of scenery to kickstart your creativity. Find a space that’s got enough room for people to loosen up and get creative, away from the usual space of your studio.

Get equipped

We like to use pencils and paper for our design workouts. When you’re working in front of a screen, shaking things up with the real thing is even more fun! If you’d like to keep things digital, just make sure that there are all the chargers, devices and gadgets you’ll want so that you don’t have to break up the day.

Always Warm Up

Creativity is like a muscle – make sure you warm up before you push it. Start with something small and light. Pick an item in the room and get a few logo options for it, start out a few personas to use later on, redesign your water bottle. Little things that will only take 15-20 minutes and get everybody moving.

Push yourselves

Now for some big tasks. Try some things that will get your team to break a sweat – pick out some of the personas you made earlier and design each of them a landing page for your product, get photoshop up and try to create something crazy around your office photo, or analyse a design you like and work out why their designers made the choices they did. Spend an hour or so on each one of these larger tasks.

Cool down

At the end, chat about the processes you went through and the reasons you made the design decisions you went for. Make sure it’s an open discussion that’s easy going an fun – this isn’t an appraisal, it’s a workshop.

Exercises like this help keep the ideas flowing and the morale up. We’re able to understand each other’s creative process and to use work we did when we were at our most creative as a jumping off point another day.

If you’re looking for a creative shake-up of your site or branding, talk to the Zinc Creatives. We’ll be ready and waiting to help.

We’re all guilty of ignoring that persistent little pop up or the exclamation mark in the corner. Updates always seem to arrive at the wrong time; when you’re in the middle of a task or a meeting. It’s so easy to click the ‘Remind Me Later’ button over and over, until it becomes a habit.

There’s a reason that updates seem unrelenting. The developers of the software you are using are constantly working to improve it. As a technology company, we know just how much work goes into every update we send out. Our flagship product, Synapse, is always undergoing work to keep it at its best. We send out an update every few months to add functionality, patch bugs, and keep the application clean. If you spot that little notification on your app, make sure you update it!

Updating is more important than a lot of people give it credit for. Here’s why:

You’ll get the newest features and functions

In technology, there’s no such thing as a finished product. There are teams of researchers, developers and testers planning out the next addition to a software. There could be a redesign in place that makes the processes that you don’t love far easier, a new piece of functionality that you didn’t realise you needed, or a way to speed things up.

The older your version of the software gets, the worse it is. If you’re keeping up to date on your device but not the software, or vice versa, the two will become incompatible and you’ll experience a lot of problems in the way it all looks and works.

It’s not just about features – it’s about security.  

A lot of work goes into making sure that an app is safe to use and protects the data it holds. Nevertheless, a product as expansive and complex as an app can still have flaws that their developers never found. Ongoing testing is usually going on behind closed doors to push the app to its limits, finding back routes in and getting them solved before they’re found elsewhere. In the event that somebody on the outside world finds a security flaw, it’s often reported to the developers to be fixed. If you’re using an older version of an app or software, there’s a good chance that you aren’t protected from the security issues that have been solved post-launch.

There is a very real threat to devices from unsecure software. Especially once an issue has been found, it’s not unusual for it to be exploited by cybercriminals to target those who have failed to update. This is known as a zero-day vulnerability. Last year, 76% of successful attacks on organisation endpoints made use of this type of vulnerability.

All the prompts and prods to update come from the creator’s need to protect the devices of those using their product. They know that it’s their responsibility as a developer to protect their users from data breaches and security risks, but can only protect those who accept the help.

If you’re known to click the ‘remind me later’ button, take a second now to go into your settings and update the device you’re reading this on. Use it as an excuse to take a screen break or make yourself a drink – by the time you get back, your device will be more secure.

If you’d like to talk apps, security, or technical support, Zinc are the team for you. Get in touch with us on the contact page here.

In almost every country in the world, when you hear the phrase ‘search engine’, you think Google. As of May 2019, Google holds 93% of the worldwide market share, so it’s natural to consider it the only option.

Here at Zinc, we have what is sometimes considered a controversial opinion: Never Forget About Bing. The way we see it, is that we want to reach the most relevant customers for our clients – and if 10% of those people are using Bing, then we’ll make sure that we’re there too.

The most important thing to know about Bing is that their audience may be small, but it is powerful. Bing users tend to be in the older generations, and therefore carry higher positions in business and have more buying power. More than a third of the Bing network audience has a household income of over $100,000. From a marketing perspective, its far better to have one qualified lead than ten that are simply caught in a wide net. Research has found that Bing users spend 8% more online than their Google counterparts.

Both disciplines in Digital Marketing have a place for Bing in their strategies. Here’s why you shouldn’t be forgetting Bing

For SEO

Transparency

In the world of SEO, it’s an accepted reality that you’re playing a game that you don’t know all the rules to. Google is notoriously quiet about the algorithms it uses and the rules that are in place. For Bing, however, it is a different story. There is far more transparency about the algorithms that are in place and the

Defaults

Bing is the default search engine on Windows machines and Internet Explorer browsers. Many people, especially those in higher age demographics or in workplaces, don’t bother to amend their defaults to a different browser, and will use Bing on a daily basis due to the ease of use it offers.

Yahoo

Bing and Yahoo use the same algorithms, and therefore an SEO strategy for one will be just as effective as the other. A strategy that considers Bing as well as Google will ensure that you are performing well on not only one of the leading search engines, but three of them.

 

In PPC

Bing Ads Network

Although Bing’s market share alone doesn’t always compete, the Ads Network definitely can. This combines the Bing and Yahoo networks into one advertising platform which together reaches 29% of search users, which makes up around half of Google’s market share. No well-considered marketing strategy would suggest eliminating 30% of your potential audience before you’ve even started.

Lower Competition and Costs

At the moment, a lot of people are missing out on Bing. This comes with a number of benefits – not only are fewer people competing for the limited space available, but there’s less cost to the advertiser to appear there. Costs per click on Google average at $20.08, whereas Bing averages at $7.99. Although your costs will always depend on the industry, market landscape and keywords you choose, adding Bing to your strategy can be incredibly cost-effective. In our own work with a client on Bing, our Paid Search team found that conversions increased incrementally by 26% at a cost per acquisition that was 54% lower than Google Ads.

From a marketing perspective, including Bing is a simple process that can reap incredible rewards. Although Google should be the first port of call, a well-rounded Bing strategy is an effective, cost effective way to boost your reach and conversions.

If you’d like to talk to a marketing expert about what Bing can do for you, get in touch with the Zinc Marketing team. We’d love to talk!   

Whilst browsing the internet you may have noticed that upon occasion you open a website and are faced with an alert from Google: ‘Your Connection Is Not Private’. It’s alarming, and usually most visitors do the same thing – they consider the site untrustworthy and exit the site immediately.

In truth, the sites that are displaying this message haven’t been hacked and aren’t usually trying to steal your data – they simply don’t have an SSL certificate.

An SSL (or a Secure Socket Layer) Certificate is a way to protect the information that a site is sending and receiving. If your site has a form, a login facility, a file upload, or an ecommerce platform, it’s transmitting data that contains personal information to other servers. Whilst the data is moving from your site to the destination server, it is at risk. The SSL ensures that during the journey between the two points, there’s no chance of anybody else accessing that data.

You can check if your site is secure quickly and easily – simply navigate to the site and look in the top right hand corner, in the URL bar. You’ll be able to see a padlock, or a ‘Not Secure’ marker.

At Zinc, we recommend installing an SSL as standard for multiple reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, the protection it offers it vital. The business impact of a data breach is severe, both financially and from the perspective of a customer who no longer trusts a company with their business. Especially with GDPR, it’s no longer worth the risk.

What’s more, the amount of customers who will bounce straight from a site that’s being reported as ‘Not Secure’ is incredibly high. Some aren’t aware of how to bypass the alert in the first place, and those who are won’t necessarily want to browse a site that isn’t protecting their information. Research showed that 84% of users would abandon their purchase if they realised the site wasn’t secure. Are you willing to lose that number of your site visitors?

Finally, from an SEO point of view, Google takes its responsibility to show safe, useful sites to its users very seriously. Sites that don’t have an SSL will be considered as less secure, and therefore rank in lower positions than sites that can offer their visitors the protection of an SSL.

With an SSL Certificate, your site will have an ‘S’ (for secure) after the http:// at the beginning of the URL, display the ‘Secure’ padlock and badge, and stop displaying the warning upon entry to the site. It’s an inexpensive process that can save you a data breach, lost customers and poor Google rankings.

If you’d like to talk about your site security, get in touch with the Zinc Team – we’ll be happy to help.

As IBM Chairman Thomas John Watson Jr said, ‘good design is good business’. At Zinc, we’re firm believers in this philosophy. The design of your brand, site and communications are a reflection of your company as a whole, sending a message to potential customers whether you like it or not. Whether that message is positive or negative often comes down to good design.

There are a lot of ‘golden rules’ when it comes to design. With creativity there’s no right or wrong, but at Zinc we work to our own version of best practice. For us, that means:

Consistency

Familiarity is your friend on a site. A patchwork site with lots of different colours, fonts, flows and styles will confuse visitors. In terms of design and User Experience, make it clear and clean. Use the same icons, a consistent colour scheme, and make sure that the way things work from page to page are similar. There are some design conventions – a logo in the top left, social media in the header or footer, a search bar at the top right – that should always be stuck to on sites – the same goes for application design. Keep things where they’re expected to be so that nobody is frustrated by looking for what they need, and can focus on your service.

Communication

We’re not talking Live Chat. When a customer is on the site, it’s a good idea to keep them up to date with what’s happening around them – it’s just good design. Progress bars on long forms, highlights on things they could have missed and thank you pages where they’re needed is all a way to keep your site visitor from being annoyed and lost onsite. When it comes to functionality, make sure that it’s clear what is required at all times.

Space and layout

White space is every designer’s favourite thing. Space can be used in a lot of different ways; to display imagery, to focus or direct attention, and to guide a user to interact in a certain way. At its simplest, it gives the elements on the page room to breathe. Don’t crowd the important bits with unnecessary information and be sure to balance your elements consistently.

Images

Images bring a lot to your site. They bring explanation, action, realism and personality as well as design benefits. Nevertheless, it’s got to be done right. Make sure to use high quality images that look good on any screen size. It’s also best to choose images that are human-focused and natural – they’re far more engaging than a cold stock image. For devices, images need to make the most of the small space they have available.

Colour

The stories that can be told with colour are endless. Through a change in shade, your brand can come across corporate, relaxed, emotive or creative. It’s not just about whether the colour is nice – it’s about whether it reflects your identity, ties in with your logo, complements the rest of the site and does the job you need it to do. Choose it carefully and use it well.

Talk to our design team today to talk about a beautiful new design for your website.

If you’re getting ready to launch a new site or even a brand new venture, you might think that a website is step one. You build the site, launch it into the world and wait…

The problem is, with no pre-launch marketing, nobody knows your site is there. This goes for everybody who matters, from your target market to the Google robots that are looking for new content to crawl. Instead of hitting the ground running, your new venture now has to play catchup.

Without a pre-launch marketing strategy, it’s hard for a website launch to fulfil its potential. If you’re hoping to launch your site with a bang, make sure you consider some of these important pre-launch actions:

Get your basics in order

There are some things that need to be considered as a first port of call, and one of these is tracking. At Zinc, we won’t launch a site without Analytics installed. For marketers, the more data we have access to, the better. Make sure that as soon as the domain is accessible, you’re tracking how many people are using it so that you can see the effects that your efforts are having. On top of this, it’s a good idea to get your Search Console set up, and consider if you need any remarketing tags ready for launch.

Start with SEO

If the site isn’t ready for Google to crawl, it’s not ready – it’s as simple as that. What you should be doing is making sure that you’ve got everything in place for when it is ready. Make sure that you’ve got plenty of content, set up your metadata, sitemap and robots file so that the second you’ve launched, Google can read all the valuable information you’re providing. Then when it’s launched, manually submit the homepage to Google to make sure it’s crawled as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to have a catalogue of blogs and other content to be ready on day one, so your site looks well managed from the start.

Get a landing page in place

If your new site isn’t ready, it could be ready for a landing page. A simple one page site that teases what’s to come can be enough to generate some buzz. It can be the perfect place for an explainer video that’s shareable and informative, or an email signup to start building a list up ahead of time.

It’s never too early for Social

Social media should be your home whilst you’re trying to build a conversation about your brand. Here you can start conversations with others in your industry, begin to build relationships with potential influencers and direct people to your landing page. Post teasers, development milestones, crowdfunding if you’re trying to raise capital. Here you could even invest in some paid media and start spreading the word ahead of time. Then, when it’s time to launch you’ve got a crowd of people waiting to see what’s going to happen.

Consider a press release

If what you’re doing is ready to change the world, the world needs to hear about it. A press release is a great idea for new products, innovative ideas and newsworthy names. It’s not for everybody, but can be a great option if you’ve got something that people will want to hear about.

Zinc Digital can help you with everything from your website design to your launch, in both creative and marketing. We’re here to be your team – why not call us and see how we can help today.

It’s springtime, and in most homes that means one thing – a spring clean. We like to treat our websites with as much love as our homes. If it’s not had much TLC in the long winter, why not try to bring it into the summer with a fresh new look.

Up-to-date visuals

Nothing ages a site like an outdated visual. Design trends come and go, so it’s easy to tell when you’re in need of an update. It doesn’t have to be a whole new site – just a few new banners can make a world of difference when it comes to the look and feel of a site. The people and products in your photography might not look the way they do now either. Be honest with yourself regarding whether this is a good representation of your business, and if not then book yourself a fresh photo shoot.

New copy

How old is your site? Would you say that everything you do is the exact same as it was when you wrote the copy for it? You’d be surprised about the things you say that are out of date, products that aren’t there any more and statistics that are so old they are now obsolete. We’d recommend updating your copy on a yearly basis – little tweaks can help keep everything correct. If it’s all looking a bit old, it’s time for an overhaul.

An SSL Certificate

An SSL displays to your customers and to Google that you’re a website that’s secure. It stops anybody being alerted that your site isn’t private, speeds up the site, helps you rank more highly and protects the information coming and going from your address. It’s a vital part of a well-managed website, but is often overlooked. If you’ve got one, make sure you know when it will run out. If you haven’t, it’s time to get one.

Responsiveness

Mobile traffic is making up an increasing number of your visitors – we can say this with confidence because it’s a trend that’s consistent across the internet. The phone is the go-to for a quick, easy search. You want to make sure that your site can deliver the answers that your visitors are looking for no matter what, so if your site isn’t responsive, this should go to the top of your list. Mobive design can come in many shapes and sizes, but the Zinc team recommend you develop responsive (not adaptive, which is tailored to specific screen sizes or a separate mobile URL). This will provide the best experience for a user, whilst maintaining one domain.

That Thing You’ve Been Putting Off…

Maybe this falls into one of the suggestions we’ve already made – in which case, that’s one thing off your list! Every site has a job that’s needed doing for a while but never gets done. What starts out as a housekeeping task becomes constantly moved to the bottom of the list, and then it becomes a problem. Don’t let it get to this point – get the little jobs off the list as soon as you can.

If you’re looking to freshen up your site, talk to your Zinc Team today. We’ll be able to help you from your SSL to your imagery – let’s get going!

Are you the kind of person who loves technology, problem solving, variety and a fast paced working environment? You could be the perfect person for a Technical Support career path. It’s an exciting line of work that enables you to learn and experience everything in the world of IT first hand. The industry is always growing and always looking for new talent.

There are three levels of support on most Service Desks, including the one at Zinc: First Line, Second Line and Third Line. These operate as you may expect, with the First Line Support Analysts being the first port of call for any ticket and escalating this up the ladder in the event that it’s a larger issue or something time-consuming.

The beauty of a career in technical support is that it allows you to build the job you want. Love being reactive and jumping on many problems? Be on the phones solving issues as they come in. Prefer to investigate and devote all your time and attention to one thing? You’ve got the skills and the knowledge to walk easily into a new role. Your Technical Support training has prepared you to move towards several other paths, or to become an expert on everything that a good Technical Support Analyst should know.

If you’re at the beginning of your journey, you’re likely to begin as First Line. You’ll need a base level of technical knowledge, such as Microsoft troubleshooting and an understanding of both software and hardware, but the main thing is to have excellent communication skills and an ability to work in a fast paced environment. To stand out from the crowd, consider these helpful hints from some industry professionals at Zinc:

Understand Sectors

Technical Support requirements comes in many shapes and sizes. Have a look into the sectors available to you and see the things each job description has in common. You might need an understanding of HTML, CMS, Servers or all of the above. Make sure that you’ll be able to answer some questions, even if you can’t answer all of them.

Ask questions

The reason for the tiered structure on our Service Desk is that often, a Third Line Support Analyst is there to handle the trickiest issues. They’ve usually sat in both a Second and First line seat, and can help for the tickets that arise on those desks too. Ask them and remember what they say – this way you can learn from somebody who has figured out the quickest and most effective way to do things. Write things down whenever you can, as a Service Desk always needs fast learners.

Train at home

There aren’t any qualifications that are a requirement for First Line Support roles, but some organisations will have their own requirements. The At-Home training you can do is to read and learn about coding, servers, CMS, and networking so that you can hit the ground running. This shows interest and drive that will be valued moving forward.

Train at Work

Moving up, there are many other qualifications from CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, ITIL and more. These can be expensive and require a higher level of knowledge, so are often supported by organisations who need their Service Desk to have this expertise. If you can find a company that will offer this, prove yourself as a good candidate by working hard, learning independently as much as you can, and requesting it when you reach the opportunity.

Don’t forget customer service

At their core, Technical support is a customer service role. You need to make sure that you are always professional, polite and considerate, even if they aren’t always. At a job interview, they’ll be looking at this just as much as any technical knowledge. If you can discuss a time where you handled a challenging situation well and diffused an upset customer, you’ll be able to prove you’ve got the attitude you need as well as the knowledge.

If you’re looking for a technical support role that’s all about learning, development and teamwork, see if Zinc are hiring.

Developing an app is a path that many businesses are going down in today’s modern age. It brings with it some incredible opportunities to engage your user base, improve their experience with you and expand your offering. Nevertheless, it can be a time-consuming process. You need to make sure that the app you create is planned to be as effective as possible, from design to implementation.

There are two major players in the world of app development: Android and iOS. There isn’t a simple answer to the question – there are a lot of factors that will come into the decision.  

Demographic

Your target market needs to be one of the first solid pieces of research you do in preparation for your app. You need to make sure the right people can find your app if they need it. Location should be your first consideration. Android is the most used OS in the world, but the concentrations of users are in Asia, Africa and South America. If you’re looking for the most used OS in the UK or US, it’s iOS. Therefore, you need to be considering if you want that worldwide appeal or a local approach. Additionally, if a tablet app is part of your strategy, you should be thinking strongly about iOS. Apple’s domination of the tablet market should be enough to know that this is the best place to build a successful app designed for tablets.

Platform Features

Though you might think that an app platform would have the same features for developers, there are some small but important differences that are important to consider. Android offers more developmental freedom, with free reign to the internal workings of the OS that allows you to apply more creativity to the end product. iOS only allows access to a certain amount of features, so advanced functionality can be difficult.

OS Release Cycles

In development, you need to be aware of when the platform releases an updated version. You’ll need to think about compatibility and how many people will be able to use the app you’re developing on their phone There are many outdated versions of Android still in use, with a surprisingly low percentage of people who are using an up-to-date OS. This could mean that more than 65% of worldwide users wouldn’t be able to use an app developed for the most recent version. Alternatively, Apple tends to be scheduled and strict about the version that their devices are on. There’s an almost mandatory update prompt that ensures that the vast majority of iPhone users are on the latest version, allowing you to focus on catering for the newer versions instead of worrying about an abandoned user base.

It’s not unusual to simply say ‘why not both’ when presented with this question. If you’re hoping for a wide reach and budget isn’t an issue, this is certainly an option. Nevertheless, for most projects, it’s a good idea to launch in the place your audience are first, and then consider expanding if you see a market on the other platform. Otherwise you’re likely to waste time and money on a platform that won’t work for you.

 

You should be carefully considering all of the above when making your decision. An app needs to be available where your audience is looking for it if there is any hope of success – nobody is getting a new phone purely to download an app they’ll find useful. They’ll simply search for your competitor.

Zinc have completed app development apps for both Android and iOS for clients who have faced this decision. With the expertise of our team and your own understanding of your market, the decision often becomes very clear. If you’re interested in learning more, talk to our tech team today.

No matter what you’re trying to achieve online, page speed matters. For customer experience, a slow-loading site will turn away impatient customers looking for an answer. For SEO, sites are penalised for long load times. With every additional second of load time, research has shown that your conversion rates drop by 7%. If you’re building a brand image of modernity and professionalism, your website should support that from the second somebody navigates to your site. If you look after your load speed, you’ll see better engagement, returning visitors and a boost in sales.

Page speed is a difficult balance to maintain. Most people like plenty of images, text, contact opportunities and on their site – but all of these will need to load. The more there is to load, the longer your site will take to appear, and the more users will bounce from your page.

If you’re not sure what your page load speed is, or should be, try using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to take a look. You’re hoping for a score of at least 50 overall.

Improving the page load speed can require you to go into the building blocks of the site and make improvements there. On the outside, it can look the exact same, but load far more quickly.

Start with hosting

Hosting is essentially the place your website is stored until somebody navigates to the site. If your hosting isn’t fast, your site is going to be slow no matter what you do onpage. Make sure that your hosting is delivering the site quickly, and consider switching to a more efficient provider if not.  

Prepare your images

Loading many large images is a surefire way to slow your site down. A good designer will be able to make sure site stunning without overloading on images, but it’s also a good idea to make sure that when you add them, they’re in the smallest format possible – ideally compressed, in JPEG form, and only as large as it needs to be. There’s no point uploading a large image file if it only needs to be 150px wide; save the big, beautiful image files for where you need them.

If you’re on WordPress, use plugins

In general, you’ll see people warning against plugins if they want to reduce load speed. This is because adding extra things to load such as forms and widgets is simply another thing on the list. However, WordPress has some excellent plugins designed to do the hard work for you when it comes to page load speed. They’ll compress the images, minify the HTML and help cache the site in one easy step.

Control your code

Websites often use a combination of Javascript, HTML and CSS to display everything. This can build up into a lot of things to load. It’s possible to minify this so that it is a quicker load and a lighter burden on the browser. It does take some knowledge to know how much of this process the code can take, so make sure you’re working with your developer.

Any good developer will build best practice for site load time into the site as they work, but time and added content will always take its toll. Make sure that you’re often testing and improving the site whenever you can.

Google Algorithms are a mythical, mysterious thing to many people – including many digital marketers. If you were to hear about Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Fred or Pigeon, would you know what you were hearing? And if you did, would you know the impact that they have on the search results we see every day?

Google has one goal: to provide their users with the most relevant, high-quality results available on the internet. There is constant development to ensure that poor quality results or deliberate attempts to fool the algorithms in place don’t rise to the top. In fact, Google sends out around 600 algorithm updates each year – that’s more than one per day.

Some algorithm updates are more impactful than others. The majority are minor, and will barely affect the majority of website owners. Others changed the face of SEO overnight. If you’re working with an SEO company or hoping to make some positive changes to your own site, you need to know about the most famous and influential algorithms in recent years. If an update indicates a big change, Google will issue a name and an announcement for them.

Of the many algorithm updates that have been rolled out recently, here are the ones that you’ll need to know about:

Panda
Implemented: 23th February 2011
Main Focus: Content

Back in the day, it was easy to fool your way to the search rankings. With one keyword-heavy page, you could rank in first place and then re-use that same page for every keyword you need moving forward. Then, in came Panda. The update sought to combat poor quality pages and encourage content that was well written and relevant to searches. They did this by targeting:
Low quality or low-word count – pages that had a small amount of content that wasn’t really relevant or substantial. These two traits tend to appear hand in hand, with poorly written, top level content.
Duplicated content – an old-fashioned SEO tactic was to write an identical service page for every location, switching out only the name of the city. This led to the web being flooded with duplicated content.
Misleading content – if the title indicated the page was about a subject, but the content failed to deliver any real information.
High ad/content ratio – sites that have prioritised advertising space over content space. This includes a high volute of affiliate links.
Content farming – dovetailing with the duplicate content penalty, some sites would be filled with poor quality content that was often collected from other sites or written by low-paid content creators for the express purpose of ranking. These were often too short, full of mistakes and stuffed with keywords.

How to avoid a penalty

It’s not difficult to stay on the right side of Panda – simply write well-written, unique content. Don’t copy from others or try to rank for something you can’t provide some good information on. Make sure that you write enough words (an absolute minimum of 400 is best). If you need content writing support, Zinc can provide bespoke content writing services to help.

Penguin
Implemented: 24th April 2012
Main Focus: Links

Links are an incredibly powerful part of SEO. They indicate to Google that the page is of value to others. The more links, the more trustworthy a site seems and the higher value they are. This is well-known, and often abused by low-quality SEO practitioners who are looking for a quick fix. Penguin has had many iterations, with additions to the update keeping it as effective as possible. The update attempts to combat poor link practice by targeting:
Bought or sold links – Google wants to know that the links to your site have been earned. It’s possible to buy links online, but these tend to be from low-quality sites with irrelevant content. They’re easy to spot, and will be penalised by Google.
Reciprocal linking – this used to be a well-used tactic for link building; offering a link for one in return. It’s considered poor practice now, and offers little SEO benefit.
Automated link builders – Some automated programmes can build links to your site. These will be built without any evaluation of relevancy or quality.
PBN links – Some black hat SEOs try to take link building into their own hands by building networks of fake sites to build links from. Once these are found, the entire network of links will be taken down.

How to avoid a penalty

To avoid a link-based penalty, it’s necessary to be constantly aware of your site’s link profile. You’re not in full control of who links to you, so if you notice a link that’s spammy or bad quality, make a note of it and investigate. You can contact the site owner to take it down, but if this doesn’t work then truly bad links should be disavowed using Search Console.

Hummingbird
Implemented: August 2013
Main Focus: Search intent

Hummingbird was a big change in the world of SEO. Unlike Panda and Penguin, which focused on solving one primary issue, Hummingbird was a reworking of the core algorithm and is rumoured to have affected many areas of the algorithm. Hummingbird is less about penalties and more about accuracy. You won’t necessarily lose rankings if you don’t follow its guidelines, but you will easily be beaten by other more effective SEO practitioners who do consider it. Hummingbird is looking to help deliver better results through targeting:
Keyword-stuffing – a tactic that’s come up before, keyword stuffing is often linked to irrelevant content. Hummingbird was a more intelligent algorithm that understood search intent. Therefore, if somebody was searching for ‘best pad thai in Northampton’, the search knows that you’re looking for restaurants, not recipes.
Local search results – As a result of the fight against keyword stuffing, local pages were hit hard. Knowledge graph (the box that brings up a snippet of information) was launched the previous year, and Hummingbird caused a lot of local results to appear in these with automatically collected data.
Answers to questions – it’s thought that the release of Hummingbird was a preparation for the future of voice search. The sites that rank well now are the ones that answer a question, instead of targeting a single exact-match keyword.

How to avoid a penalty

As outlined before, it’s not common for Hummingbird to lead to a penalty. However, in order to compete in a world where the search results are built on this foundation, it’s best to know what it’s looking for. Answer questions, don’t worry too much about an exact keyword, and focus on delivering a complete solution to a search.

 

Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird were game-changers in the world of SEO. Others have been named and announced – in late 2018, the Medic update affected healthcare websites across the internet.

The Zinc SEO Team are always on the lookout for an algorithm update. They’re not hard to spot – a consistent and severe fluctuation in rankings across all our clients sets the alarm bells ringing, and then it’s an investigation to find what we can do to cater to the new requirements and maintain results. If you’re hoping for an SEO Team who are always prepared to protect your site from Google’s changes, talk to us today.

‘Everything is online these days – why waste time with traditional marketing?’

There’s a reason that Zinc is a full service agency. Our phone is always ringing for digital marketing or website build enquiries, but our clients don’t always realise that the most successful campaigns don’t begin with a new site or a great campaign. Step one is always your brand.

Branding is more than a name and a logo. It’s something tangible, the soul of your business and the way that your customers relate and connect to it. It’s who you are, and deserves the time and effort to create a perfect branding that reflects your personality, embodies your values and offers a strong foundation for your future marketing endeavours. Without this start, every campaign you send and person you connect with isn’t fulfilling the potential it could.

In the digital age, your customers are being constantly bombarded with information. Every day they scroll through a minefield of shareable content, targeted advertising, clickbait blogs and alarmist headlines. The ever-changing landscape is creating an audience that’s always adapting to change and processing new information. The one thing that remains constant throughout all of this is branding.

With a strong identity, you have a powerful weapon in your arsenal. You’re able to gain a competitive advantage over others in your industry:

Build a consistent, controlled message

Stand out from the stream of fast paced, changing information with a clear message. Choose your values and stand by them, and make sure that you’re communicating them with every post you press send on. There are a lot of voices in your space, so make sure that yours is distinctive. This means that if a time comes when you’ll have to address negativity or speak on a touchy subject, you’ll be able to do so with the confidence of your brand behind you.

Foster a long-term relationship

Your business shouldn’t be about the one-time sale. It should be about building relationships for the long term, enhancing referrals and encouraging returns. With strong branding, you’re giving your business name a likeable face that is likely to bring people back for more. It’s beyond buying and selling – you’re able to show authority and trustworthiness, or a friendly new perspective that’s going to make sure that you’re the name they think of first.

Stay memorable

Your priority as a business owner is to grow. If you’ve become one of those businesses that nobody remembers, you need to take a step back and consider the brand that you’ve chosen. In the old marketplace, the only choice was stuffy and professional. Now, it’s necessary to forget old habits and think more deeply. By truly understanding the voice you want for your business, you’ll be able to make a deeper connection and a lasting impression.

If you’re looking for success in a competitive digital age, you should start with your brand. It’s a simple yet effective first step to ensuring a successfully converting website and an effective digital marketing strategy. Without this, you’re just another voice shouting for attention in an oversaturated digital world.

Zinc Digital love to build brands from the ground up. Whether you’re a new enterprise or need a revitalised approach to your branding talk to our team today. We’ll get to know you and your brand to help create a look, a voice, and an identity that’s cohesive, memorable and entirely you.

We’ve all had that awful moment where the computer has crashed and everything is lost. Suddenly, it’s as if everything you’ve been working on for hours never existed.

Now, imagine that for your entire business.

There are many ways that your business could lose the data that keeps it running every day. Cisco’s 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report tells us that malware is getting more intelligent every day. What’s more, the goal isn’t always simply profit, but the destruction of data. Local authorities and governance are often operating on outdated systems and downloading files from people they don’t know – opening them up to become one of the thousands each year who fall victim to a ransomware scam. It’s not just data and revenue you can lose. Over 20% of the businesses that experience data loss or a cyber attack lose customers.

It’s not simply limited to an online threat. Everything from a fire or flood, theft, or a simple spilled drink could wipe an important computer. This is why, as a business, a corporate backup strategy is vital. A data backup is simply a copy of the information on your computer, from software to files. In an ideal world, as a business, you’d have multiple regular backups that are securely stored in different places (such as the cloud and in an offsite physical copy) so that no event could take down every copy of your data. This enables you to:

Recover data simply
Especially with cloud-stored information, recovery can simply be at the click of a button. This is especially useful for short-term recoveries – open an email you shouldn’t have? Simply cycle back a few hours and you’ll barely be missing anything.

Quickly provide information for audits
Keeping business records is a big enough job without the need to scrape old information together if it’s been lost and then requested. With regular backups, you’ll be able to gain access to everything that’s relevant to a particular time or department by simply scrolling through the years. This is useful for for audits, which can arise following a data breach. It’s also great for taxes and for simply maintaining a line of sight of how your business has progressed.

Prevent downtime
If you were to lose every piece of business information you have, how long do you think it would take to build that up again? A week? A month? A year? Realistically, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to have the same database of information available, but the time it will take you to try to recreate it instead of growing and maintaining your businesses as you could have before is often the end of a business. The downtime it takes to get a business back and running after data loss can be extensive and detrimental.

Do your work once
There’s nothing more frustrating than pointless repetition. Losing the work you’ve already done is a tiresome task that’s completely avoidable with a backup. Even one document could have months of work behind it – now imagine this with every file your business uses on a regular basis. By making sure you’ve got a copy of these files securely stored, you’ll save yourself hours of time and frustration.

Gain a competitive advantage
The main casualty after a data loss isn’t something tangible such as finance or files. It’s trust. Your customers and clients have entrusted you with their information, and you’ve demonstrated that you don’t know how to keep it safe. If you have the ability to bounce back immediately, you’re showing your customer base that you’re reliable and responsible with their personal and sensitive information. If your competitors aren’t so prepared, their customers will become yours.

We’re in the mood for love here at Zinc Digital. Building relationships in business is just like building relationships in every other part of life – it takes work, resilience and strategy, but can reap infinite reward. With happy customers comes repeat business, referrals and retention.

So how do you create a lead generation and sales strategy that makes your customers fall head over heels for you?

Start with yourself

Just like in relationships, the best partnerships come to those who are comfortable in what they want. Before you even start looking you need to know exactly who you’re trying to attract so that you can be sure you’ll be able to deliver the best service. Look at the data you’ve got available to you – who’s buying, who’s enquiring, and who isn’t. You can then create personas based on these demographics, so you’ll know that when you create everything from your website to your paid campaigns, this is who you’re talking to.

The value of personas continues through to customer experience. By knowing who you’re targeting and what they want, you’ll be able to carry this knowledge through to the way that you deliver the service so that it feels tailored, fostering loyalty and bringing your customers back every time.

Be authentic

Gone are the days of the fast talking salesman. Today’s buyer is well researched, skeptical, and can tell when they’re being sold to. Just like in relationships, success comes when you show the real you. If you’re in sales and you’ve not heard of the ‘know-like-trust’ principle, it’s something that needs to become integral to your process.

Brand awareness campaigns can be looked down on by greedy business owners who want to see immediate conversions. Though the end goal should always be conversions and profit, the road to fostering these is know-like-trust. If they don’t know your name, like what you do and trust that you can do it well then your sale will never take off. By putting yourself out there, sharing value that your client wants to see (and not just talking about yourself) and showing that you’re consistent and considerate, you’ll be able to build an ongoing relationship that’s more valuable than a hundred short-term, low value clients.

Be transparent

It starts with expectation management. Just like a good relationship will communicate about where you both want things to go and what you’ll want in life, a business relationship needs to have a clear understanding of what you’ll be providing and the way it will all work. If a problem arises, tell your customers what’s going on and how it’s going to affect the product delivery as soon as you can. Most people are happy to allow for extenuating circumstances as long as it doesn’t come to light following a failure to deliver.

Show them some love

Relationships need nurturing. The worst mistake any business can do is let the relationships that were built during the sales process drop because they’re ‘no longer with sales’. Simply reaching out with a holiday greeting, an existing customer offer, or just checking in to make sure that they’re happy will make all the difference. Treating your customers like they’re on a production line will only ever mean that they don’t come back.

The world of Technology and Projects can be a confusing one. Our process takes a whole team, all with different technical specialisms that speak a different language.

For our clients, we like to make sure you know what’s going on with your project. That’s why our team is in consistent contact with you, keeping you updated with where the development is and what’s coming next.

Agile

Agile is a development methodology that we make use of here at Zinc. It enables us to break the project into phases which are completed step-by-step and allow for a flexible project. It helps keep our products to a timeline of fast delivery and ongoing releases.

Development

Development is the building blocks of every technical project. It’s the part of the project when our team are working with coders to create every part of the end product. It’s the most lengthy part of a project, because every part is being built and tailored to you.

Gantt Chart

Our project team plan out the entirety of your project using a Gantt Chart. It’s a way to lay out planned actions and the week they’re scheduled to be able to view at a glance the timeline that’s expected; when things will be done and ready for release.

Live environment

The live environment is the product that is launched and in use. Whenever you use your product, you’re using it in a live environment.

Pilot environment

The Pilot or Dev environment is a place to test out new functionality or developments without the risk of causing issues to a live product. It is where we can safely make sure that any bugs are ironed out and that our QA and UAT processes are complete before launch.

Phase

A phase is a part of Agile development. They are used to split a large project into different areas that are easier to manage and deliver, or to plan future developments in the product.

Technical Specification

In order to send something to development, our projects team need to write a technical specification. This is a document that lays out exactly what’s required and how it should be built to make it work the way you need it to.

QA

QA stands for Quality Assurance. It’s our internal testing process in which our Testing team go through the app with a fine tooth comb to make sure that every button and page is doing what it should.

Scope

Scope is what our team believe as being deliverable during the project timeline or phase. If a new feature is in-scope, it can be delivered in the current phase. If not, then we’d suggest adding a new phase of development.

UAT

UAT is User Acceptance Testing. This is a second stage of testing, although can often happen alongside QA. It’s when we send the product to a specific group of people for a small launch, in order to make sure it’s not only functional but fit for purpose.

Waterfall

Another development methodology, Waterfall doesn’t use phases. Instead, a full product is completed before any launch. This is used for smaller projects, or products that need to have every functionality completed ahead of launch.

SEO is an ever-changing world. The best performing sites are built with search engine optimisation best practice woven in, and have the design prowess to encourage conversions.

For a successful site, SEO and design should be working in tandem. Alongside beautiful design is the potential to rank highly and gain a wide audience to appreciate it. One without the other is worthless. That’s why an integrated approach is best.

If you’re a web designer, here’s what you should be bearing in mind this year in the world of SEO.

Mobile First

By necessity, pleasing Google is the top priority when it comes to SEO. In 2018, Google switched to a mobile first index – this means that the first measure of efficacy comes from how your site performs on mobile. This is because the internet is now primarily used on devices such as phones and tablets. Google’s priority is ensuring the best experience for their users.

To design with this in mind, the first thing that you need to do as a designer is be aware of how your designs will affect speed – a site that is slow to load on mobile will suffer when it comes to rankings. Keep designs as light on code as you can, with small compressed images and Google fonts instead of custom. Secondly, make sure that the experience for your mobile user is a smooth one. This usually comes in hand with good design, but it’s important to bear in mind that a site with a high bounce rate and non-converting users won’t perform as well in rankings as a site that has been optimised well.

Content is Key

Google is getting cleverer every day. It’s looking for good quality, informative content that’s relevant to searchers, and the old-fashioned tactics of keyword stuffing don’t work any more. You might think as a designer that this isn’t your remit, but it’s still important that you equip the content writers with the tools to do this job.

When designing, make sure there’s space for plenty of content. This can be in many forms – you don’t need to lose the balanced designs of your dreams to be able to make room for the amount of content required. Work in accordions or tabs to hide content, pack in lots of small bitesize pieces, and work in blocks so there aren’t walls of text. In general, it’s best to have around 500 words as a minimum on a page you’re hoping to rank. The more the better.

Structure your site well

Search engine robots behave in a similar way to humans when they’re exploring a site. They want to be able to navigate clearly and find the information they’re looking for easily. When you’re designing a site, you consider the customer journey; what they’ll do when they arrive at the homepage and how they’ll find answers.

The best thing about good site structure is that there’s one rule that works universally: make things easy. Don’t bury important content too deeply within the site – more than 4 clicks from the homepage is too granular for a search engine robot to consider the content important. Your customers and your rankings will benefit from a simple site structure.

As a designer, the performance of the website you create is a KPI. If you’re designing with SEO in mind, the likelihood of a strong website with plenty of traffic will only go up.

Our Support desk manage thousands of users for the apps, websites and portals that we’ve developed. A part of that is helping recover and reset passwords – and in that time we’ve heard some creative passwords! 

We’re all guilty of recycling passwords or choosing something that’s easy to remember over something that’s difficult to break into. Nevertheless, every year there are thousands of cases of preventable identity theft from easily guessed passwords.

A cybersecurity firm has released a list of the most hacked passwords from 2018. This list was gathered from millions of accounts that had experienced a hack. It’s thought that around 10% of people have used at least one of these passwords. There are some repeat offenders, with ‘123456’ and ‘password’ reaching the top two places for the fifth year in a row.

Take a look at the top 25 least secure passwords of 2018

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 123456789
  4. 12345678
  5. 12345
  6. 111111
  7. 1234567
  8. sunshine
  9. qwerty
  10. iloveyou
  11. princess
  12. admin
  13. welcome
  14. 666666
  15. abc123
  16. football
  17. 123123
  18. monkey
  19. 654321
  20. !@#$%^&*
  21. charlie
  22. aa123456
  23. donald
  24. password1
  25. qwerty123

If any of these passwords look familiar, it’s a good idea to rethink the passwords you use on a daily basis. This is especially true if you tend to use the same password across many sites, as one good guess from a hacker can lead to a breach that affects you significantly. At the very least, it’s vital that you choose a unique password for anything financial or that handles sensitive personal information.

To choose a strong password, try following our Support team’s Top Tips:

More characters equals more security

The best choice for a password is a long password. Many hackers use a dictionary based system, so combat this by combining two random words or misspelling them with numbers and special characters.

Stay unpredictable

There’s a reason that there are cliches about birthdays and first pets – this information is easier to find than you might think. The best thing to be when choosing a word to build your password around is unpredictable.

Don’t get into habits

We’re all creatures of habit. This is something that hackers love to take advantage of. They know that the password they’ve guessed for one site is likely to be used elsewhere, and will try to access other accounts with the same credentials. It’s best to change your passwords so that the same one isn’t used all over the internet.

Consider a password manager

Most people choose a repetitive, unsafe password for the simple reason that they know they won’t remember a different, complex password for every account they create. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to use a password manager that can help you keep track. You’ll be able to securely store your passwords in an encrypted program that does the remembering for you.

Your password is the first step to online security. With a weak password, or a one-size-fits-all solution, accounts are easy to break into. Following that, one data breach leads to many as the same password opens account after account. Nevertheless, a strong, secure password for every site seems like a big job. Remembering every special character and capital letter and what works for each site is a quick way to the ‘Forgot Password’ button.

Zinc Digital’s Service desk support a number of platforms, and with that many users it’s natural that we get a lot of calls about lost passwords.  

This is where a password manager comes in. It’s a piece of software on your computer that’s there to remember every password so that you don’t have to – no matter how complex. Depending on your needs, there are a lot of options on the market. Here’s what to look for in a good one:

Cost

As with any product, price is a factor for both sides. Most password managers have a good free offering, but you’re likely to be limited when it comes to the amount of passwords you can store or the number of devices you can use. If you’re only going to be logging in from one place, or just need to remember a few passwords, a free password manager will do just fine. Otherwise, pinpoint what you need from your password manager and choose one that gives you the best value for money when it comes to that service.

Encryption

The encryption is arguably the most important part of the password manager you choose. If this isn’t offering sufficient protection, all the extra features in the world aren’t worth it. There are several levels of encryption – make sure that yours is protected with AES standard encryption as a minimum. If you’re looking for the highest level of protection, go for AES 256 bit encryption.

Local or Cloud

Password managers vary regarding where they store their information. Some store the password locally on the device, and some are kept on the cloud. With local storage, you’re only able to store your passwords in one place, but a cloud storage solution is more vulnerable simply because it is in the public domain; although there will always be encryption in place. There is no right or wrong – it’s about what works for your needs. Some of the higher-quality password managers will do both, so you can decide what is kept where.

2 Factor Authentication

Any additional security in the place where you keep your passwords is priceless. 2 Factor Authentication confirms your identity with a second round of security checks, whether it’s a fingerprint scan, SMS, or pin. It’s a one-time measure on each device that will help keep your data even safer.

Password Importation

Inputting every password can become a mammoth task if you’ve got a lot and they’re stored all over. Some password managers can import your passwords in from your browser so that you don’t have to trawl through and input them individually. Some also come with autofill so that once your passwords are in, there’s no more searching.

Password managers come with a wealth of additional features – they could help you generate secure passwords in future, double up as a digital wallet to store your payment information and even digitally store secure data like birth certificates and passports. The most basic, most important feature however is security.

2018 is seeing a resurgence in the popularity of Print Marketing. Online brands are seeing the potential in print to engage, inspire and capture an audience who is bombarded with digital advertising throughout their day. Big names like Facebook and Amazon are straying from their traditionally entirely digital strategies by supplementing with a print marketing strategy. For Amazon, a printed toy catalogue is being circulated in the US to revive nostalgic memories of Christmas past. Facebook, on the other hand, is using print to make its public apology, supplementing the lost trust that the company is experiencing with the reassurance of words in print. For both, print brings with it the authenticity and trustworthiness of a time before an easily editable online medium.

The beauty of print is that it’s now become a medium that is underused. That means that, to an audience who is faced with digital marketing all day, the sight of a physical printed communication holds new weight. Alongside the cheap, unreliable information that saturates the market at the moment, it proves that the company that commissioned it cares. It suggests permanence, investment and thought. It enables a company to curate a more ‘human’ presence outside of the strategised online space. Research has found that forms of physical media, such as cards and mailouts, increased feelings of connectivity more than online strategies. Alongside this, with the right design and content, engagement is instant and action is often not far behind. It allows for complete focus, without the distraction of a notification, a scroll or another advert. In the event that there is a distraction, print media is always easily accessible to be picked up and perused again.

The benefits don’t stop there, however. With costs per click rising and print becoming more accessible, there is a shift in the balance that is making print a cost-effective option. What’s more, the returns on investment are often even better. This isn’t to say the two are mutually exclusive. The best campaigns are ones that use both print and digital media together as complementary services, providing multiple touch points across the user experience and sending a tailored message with each. That way, when your printed product hits the doormat, your client has already seen your name and understands what you do.  

Print can encompass everything from business cards and mailouts to the exhibition stands that stop you in your tracks at conferences. Some are essentials, some are niche, and some are to be used alongside a strategy to get the best return. Whatever you choose, working with a design agency that doesn’t just do things digitally is vital. Print design is a different game altogether, with restrictions and considerations that many digital designers haven’t faced.

Print marketing has been in the shadow of Digital for too long. The intention, credibility and tactile experience of printed media is regaining the strength it once had, carving a niche it never had when it saturated the market.

2018 has been an incredibly exciting year for everybody here at Zinc. In the past two years, we’ve experienced more growth than ever before, with lots of exciting new clients joining our books and bringing us plenty of projects to work on. As a result, we’ve welcomed a lot of new faces into the Zinc office to keep us delivering a great level of service.

Meet the newest members of the Zinc Digital team:

 

 

Sam Malloy – Product Architect

Our in-house CMS, Admin247, has been around almost as long as Zinc has. It’s had updates, improvements and additions over the years, but never a full overhaul. Sam has been working on both Admin and our incident reporting app Synapse to give them a whole new look and an even better experience for our users. He’s an expert in working with Angular, making him the perfect person to work behind the scenes on our products.

David Moorhouse – Head of Technical Services

With an ever-expanding technical team and plenty to do, we brought in David to help us keep us as efficient as possible. He joins us from a background as a Lead Business Analyst, supporting our busy team by applying his expertise in both technology and management to help keep the developers, support team and projects team communicating throughout. With his years of experience and his dedication to working to a client brief alongside the needs of the team, we’re excited to see where David will take our Technical Services Department.

Sandeep Jella – Lead Tester

Quality Assurance is a vital part of every technical project. It ensures that the end product has been put through its paces, working out every bug and making sure that everything does what it should do. With the amount of technical developments we’re now dealing with, a dedicated QA tester was at the top of our list. Sandeep is well versed in all types of testing, from UAT to GUI. With his skill set behind us, we’ll be able to continue to maintain a high level of quality throughout our development process.

Zinc is always on the lookout for talented people to join our team. If you’re interested in being  a part of a dynamic, innovative team, take a look at the careers page on our site today.

Technology makes our world go around today. We use it to get around, to stay connected, to entertain ourselves and to earn our salaries – yet we don’t realise the innovation and advances that have taken place in the last twenty years that have provided this to us.

At Zinc, to say we love technology is an understatement. Our Tech team can talk development for hours and argue about the best way to evolve a product but the thing we love most is the inspiration and innovation that has gone into the technology we see every day. It’s what keeps us at the top of our game when we plan, develop and launch our technology projects.

The household names we use each day are stories of determination and innovative thinking that everybody in Tech should all know and learn from.

Netflix

Arguably the biggest streaming service in the world, Netflix has had an immeasurable impact on the world. There’s the obvious: the fact that millions no longer sit down in front of live television every evening, and then there’s the ripples of mainstream TV networks who have been forced to step up their game to compete, creating a golden age of TV. The key to this success was their dedication to disruption and innovation. From launch, Netflix created themselves a value that nobody else was meeting by replacing VCRs before anybody else had realised there was a better solution in DVDs. Most importantly, however, they put their website at the centre of the entire idea before streaming was even a concept. By creating a seamless, personalised site that was a key part of the process, the move to an entirely online solution was easy for customers. It enabled Netflix to become the first to do online streaming well, with users in mind.

Amazon

In 1995, Amazon was a bookseller. It did one thing, and it did it well – a focus on service and speed. Then, in the next twenty years it has become one of the only names to know in ecommerce, selling everything from the books it laid its foundation on to food, cosmetics and clothes. So, how did they do it? Diversification. Amazon is always on the pulse of what’s about to be important, and isn’t afraid to try and fail. Its own music offering, Amazon MP3, was replaced with Amazon Music Services before it had the chance to become obsolete, the fire phone was launched and scrapped within a year and a half. With constant introspection, analysis and testing, Amazon has been able to drive continuous reach and relevance. With endless new markets and options, they’re likely to be a staple of the ecommerce world and more for years to come.

Tesla

Some would say that Tesla are innovative because they brought electric cars to the automotive industry. This isn’t the case. Electric cars were already on the market before Tesla existed, but they were a shadow of the product that they are today. They couldn’t exceed 50 miles or 40mph on their less-than-powerful batteries, they took hours to charge, and, of almost equal important, they looked ugly. All in all, electric cars weren’t getting the investment from manufacturers because they didn’t want them to become a desirable option. Tesla took a product that was treated like a compromise and made it not only desirable, but aspirational. This was through significant investment in the technology, addressing the pain points of the users and exceeding the expectations they had. Add in the personality that the company displays, the moral high ground that it occupies as an eco-friendly alternative, and a sleek design – you have an innovative take on a product that nobody wanted twenty years ago.

The Zinc Support desk is one of the busiest parts of the company on a day-to-day basis. Our phone rings more than 200 times a week, bringing us questions about passwords, security, site changes and everything in between. With this many calls, it’s natural that we find ourselves saying the same things over and over. Sometimes it’s a frequently asked question and sometimes it’s simply a technical term that isn’t commonly used. Our Service Desk wrote up a helpful guide to make sure that there’s no such thing as technical jargon.

 

Back End & Front End

In the online world, there are two ways to work with a website: the Front End or the Back End. Using Zinc Digital as an example, the website itself is what is referred to as the ‘front end’, and our Content Management System Admin247 is what is referred to as the ‘back end’. If one of our Support Team tells you they’re making changes to the back end of the system, it means they’re working on the part of the site that the user doesn’t see. These changes tend to be reflected on the front end in a more user-friendly way.

 

Browser

A browser is the tool you’re using to access the internet. There are a few that are commonly used: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. We’ll often ask what browser you’re using, as websites often behave differently depending on the browser you’re using. If you’re not sure, check on www.whatsmybrowser.org

 

Clearing the Cache

As you use the internet, the browser you’re using stores information about the sites you visit. To keep loading times at a minimum, the browser remember parts of a website so that the next time you go to that site, it can provide the information quickly. If we’ve made a change on your website, or something isn’t loading correctly, we might ask you to clear your cache to make sure that your browser is loading the most recent version of the site. If you’re not sure how to clear your cache, take a look at our quick guide here.

 

DNS

The best way to describe a DNS is by imagining a phone book. When we type in a website address, there’s another address which is known as your IP, which is what shows your computer where to go. Just as we find it much easier to read zincdigital.com, a computer finds it easier to read an IP. A DNS is the place where the two are matched together, making it easy to know which IP address leads to which site.

 

Domain

It’s common to confuse a website with a domain. Your domain is the name and address you’ve chosen for your website, but it’s possible to have a domain without having built a website. This simply means that you now own the name you’ve chosen, and could operate a website or emails from this domain if you wished.

 

Hard refresh

Just as you might be asked to clear your cache, we’ll often ask our callers to do a hard refresh. This will clear the cache for the page you’re currently on, loading the newest version so that we can see if there are any issues with it. To quickly do a hard refresh, press Ctrl + F5 on Windows or Cmd + Shift + R on Mac.

 

Propagating

Domain or DNS propagation is the process of transferring a domain to its new location. This can take a while to complete as every server in the world is updated with the new information. Usually we’ll ask for a day or so to make sure that everything is fully propagated and that your site loads correctly every time.

 

SSL

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a way to add an extra measure of protection to your website by encrypting the information it transmits. Our Service Desk are responsible for installing these and ensuring they are functioning properly. If you’d like to learn more about SSLs, take a look at our blog here.  

 

Server

There are many types of server – for websites, emails, networks and more. Put simply, this is a powerful computer located elsewhere that is responsible for providing your computer the data it needs to function. When you visit a website, you’re asking your computer to access the server that stores that website so it can load on your end. In the event that there’s a problem on the server, there may be a problem loading the emails or website that it stores.

 

Spam/Junk Folders

It’s more common than you’d think to lose an email. The first port of call should always be to check in your Spam or Junk folders to make sure that your email provider hasn’t automatically categorised the mail as malicious. Usually, this can be found beneath the Inbox, Outbox and Sent folders in your email client.

 

URL

Your URL is essentially your address on the internet. The URL bar is usually located at the top of the browser, and is the place that you’d usually type in an address such as zincdigital.com or google.com. If we ask for a URL, we’re asking for you to highlight the link in this bar and send it to us.

 

Uptime & Downtime

Uptime and Downtime are terms used to describe when a server is functioning or isn’t. In an ideal world there wouldn’t be any downtime, but in the event of a server issue or an attack there can be time when the site isn’t working. If this happens, we’ll let you know how much downtime there was.

 

Our Support Desk will be happy to help if you have a technical issue with a site, an SSL, or any other service we’ve provided to you. Give us a call on 01604 598999 for help.

The first meeting between a creative team and a client is one of the most important ones we’ll have with you. It’s the time where we get to know you, your brand, and where we’re going to take it all.

Meeting your designers doesn’t require a lot of preparation, but anything you can bring us helps speed the process along and makes everything more productive. If you’re getting ready for your first creative design meeting, why not bring:

The right people

We love a first meeting to be full of ideas. We want to meet the people who are going to be working with us as we design your site, so bring along anybody who’s likely to have input. That having been said, if it’s going to get crowded then send a delegate with some notes from everybody else.

An idea of what you want to achieve from your new site

The goals and expectations of your site are vital for everybody to understand. By this, we don’t mean what you want it to look like (although we’ll definitely be talking about that!). We want to know if you’re looking for people to buy from an ecommerce platform, read your content, use a contact form or something else.  

Some likes

Competitors, colour schemes, or just sites that you’ve stumbled across that you love – it’s all valuable. From the things you show us, we’ll be able to understand whether you like things minimalist and clean or bright and busy. Even if there’s just the one component that you like, bring it over to us for a look.

Some dislikes

The things you don’t like are just as valuable as the things you do. When it comes down to it design is all about personal style, and we want to make sure that what we’re designing is in line with yours. We primarily design for the end user, but it’s important to us that you’re just as in love with your website as we are, so if you can show us sites you’re not a fan of we’ll be able to get a feel for the things we should be avoiding.

The beginnings of a plan

We’ll walk and talk you through everything that we need to know, but if you’ve got an idea of what you need in a website at the beginning it’s invaluable for us. Think about the pages you’ll need and the kind of things you need on there. A mini plan with your navigation and what’s required is a great jumping off point for us.

To talk about your new website, branding and more, give the Zinc Creative Team a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

As a company with an extensive technology department, Zinc Digital have designed, developed and launched a number of apps, portals and websites that included a substantial amount of bespoke functionality. As part of this, we perform extensive testing to ensure everything works the way it’s designed to.

One of the most important forms of testing is UAT (User Acceptance Testing). UAT is the practice of testing the product as an end user, not as a developer. It’s not unusual for individual features and functions to have their own testing, but there can be issues associated with integrating the new piece of software that aren’t immediately apparent. This is where UAT needs to come in.

UAT is the practice of testing the product as an end user, not as a developer. It’s not unusual for individual features and functions to have their own testing, but there can be issues associated with integrating the new piece of software that aren’t immediately apparent. This is where UAT needs to come in. It’s no longer all about functions – it’s about the experience as a whole. Not only are your testers ensuring that everything works the way it should, but they’re making sure that your future users will be able to open the app, take any route and still be able to achieve the intended outcome of the app.

This is an integral part of app development that often gets overlooked or rushed. Without UAT, developers are delivering an app that can’t survive in the real world as it hasn’t ever been tested the way it would be after launch.

If you deliver your app without proper testing, your user base immediately becomes your UAT team. This is a quick way to a very public testing period in which your bugs and UX are picked apart in a public setting. Before long, you have a reputation for a difficult to use app, even if it’s a small part of the functionality that’s causing an issue.

Ideally, your UAT tester won’t have had much interaction with the product. By employing the services of a good UA Tester, you’ll not only be able to find bugs and functionality issues, but make sure that the product you’ve created fits the brief before launch, saving the time and resource you might need in the future to correct any issues. The result is a happier client, a happier end user, and a lift of pressure on your team who will no longer have to perform live fixes with feedback from dissatisfied clients.

The benefits of UAT significantly outweigh the investments. It has been found to save almost 30% of the total project time when the time taken is accounted for, improving your ROI and most importantly, your end product.

Good UAT is a combination of both software performance and human behaviour analysis. It’s ensuring that your technology is able to interact with your intended audience in a realistic way. With good quality software, your user base will naturally grow alongside your reputation. In the end, everybody wins.

SEO is an incredibly important step in your digital marketing journey. It’s the reason your future customers will be able to find you online, so it’s important to find the right agency that can get you the results you need.

Once you’ve researched an agency and made a few calls, how do you know that you’re dealing with a good quality agency? Make sure to ask them some telling questions before you start anything.

Any industry experience?

It’s natural to look for an SEO agency that’s got experience in your industry. They’ll already know the online landscape, the keywords that are valuable and have contacts that can help you build links. Nevertheless, it’s far more important for your agency to be an SEO expert than an industry expert. As long as they’ve got the case studies to show they’re great at what they do, any industry experience is simply and added bonus.

What other services do you offer?

Digital Marketing is a world that has a lot of options. It’s unusual to find an agency that is purely SEO, but an agency with other services can be incredibly helpful. For startups, a boost of PPC can really help gain traffic. Having a creative design resource can ensure your landing pages are optimised for conversion and having a content department will support your SEO strategy. If you’re aware and open to these options, a good agency will be able to show you a well rounded strategy.

What are the KPIs?

In Digital Marketing, success isn’t one thing. When it comes to SEO, we’re hoping to rank your website highly for relevant keywords, but that’s not the be all and end all. We also want to make sure that your traffic is going up, and that as a result of that you’re getting more conversions. If your agency is just telling you that you’re looking at rankings, they’re not looking at the big picture.

How long will it take to get results?

This is a quick way to weed out an SEO agency that’s just saying what they think you want to hear. A poorly run SEO agency will usually make promises and tell you that you’ll be on the first page of Google within a month. As much as we’d love for this to be true, it’s not always how it works. It’s far better to hear the truthful answer: it’s impossible to predict, but we’ve got a strategy that’s built around your business and your website as it stands.

How do you go about link building?

Link building is a contentious issue in the world of SEO. Having links to your site is incredibly important, but low-quality SEO practitioners often cut corners here. As a result, you’re far more likely to see penalties from low quality links than a high ranking. Saying they don’t practice this at all is either a mistake or a lie. The best answer is to find industry relevant websites and to find links through trusted sources or outreach.

How much input do you need from us?

This questions doesn’t have so much of a right or wrong answer – it’s simply whether they’re going to be working in a way that suits you. At Zinc, we will sometimes ask for input to gain access to your site and make changes, request sign-off on content, and suggest a monthly meeting so you’re in the loop. Some agencies will ask you to write your own content, some will prefer to be left to it and you’ll only hear from them every now and then. If you know what to expect, you’ll know if the agency is a good fit for you.  

In a world filled with SEO experts, it can be difficult to know if you’ve found a good one. If you’ve been able to find them through an online search, you can already be confident that they know what they’re doing, but it can take some industry insight to sort the wheat from the chaff. Luckily, you’ve got Zinc Digital to help.

If you’re looking for an SEO agency, we’re one you can trust. Zinc has been in business for more than 14 years, learning and adapting the way we work to get great results from tried and tested techniques.

We offer a free SEO health check that can tell you just what your current agency may be missing. Talk to us today to learn more. 

When it comes to mobile apps, there’s a life cycle. A user will have a need, search for a solution, download it and engage with the app. Following this, your users will either continue to engage with your app, or they’ll delete it. Gaining users for your app is only half the battle. The true measure of success is when they are retained, returning and engaging with you.  

The primary reason a user will delete an app is because they don’t use it. If your app doesn’t provide a user-friendly experience and deliver the solution they’re looking for, it’s simply taking up space on their device. This is valuable real estate, so you need to make sure your app is created to convert a first-time user from the moment they open it. Done well, you’ll foster a community of long-term users who are active and engaged. Alongside this comes increased usage, growth in brand awareness and by default an improvement in revenue.

App engagement is simply usage. If they’re opening your app and using it, you’re getting engagement. If they’re staying for longer, you’re providing them with the product they were hoping for when they downloaded your app. The app store provides a quick and easy road to your competitors if you aren’t able to do this.

In our experience as app developers and marketers, engagement is all about experience. Every demographic is different, but there are a few golden rules that will help your app get the engagement and dedicated users it deserves.

Simple Signup

Your first impressions count. If the initial action you’re asking your users to do is a long, drawn out onboarding process, they’re going to close the app and find a quicker solution. In a world of instant gratification, your user base isn’t going to wait. The fewer steps you have in your signup process, the better. Don’t ask for too much information, and if you can combine steps to keep things quick then do so. You don’t need to explain everything at the start or offer a tutorial – let the user explore or ask for help. If you do want to explain, replace text with icons and images to keep things simple, or give them an option to skip.

Personalise the experience

Use the information you gained in your onboarding to add personalisation to your app. Addressing users by name and tailoring the messaging to their needs will help deliver the experience your users were looking for. Welcome pages, in-app messages, notifications and landing pages can all be directed directly at your users, and can lead to a 27% increase in conversions according Braze.

Gamify It

Whether your app is all about fun or all about function, adding an element of reward and gamification can help improve the engagement from your user base. Ordinary tasks such as filling out a profile or changing a password can be encourages with a progress bar or badges. If there’s a way to make things competitive, incorporate a leaderboard where your users can see how their friends, or even other users across the world, are doing.

Make Use Of Push Notifications

If users aren’t opening your app, there’s not much opportunity to tempt them back. Some use emails, which can be effective, but the best way to get a user back on your app is to talk to on the same channel they associate with you. Push notifications are the perfect way to announce a tip, offer, new feature or to simply offer a gentle reminder that you’re there. For some, non-engagement isn’t a case of disliking your product but simply forgetting it’s there.

Engagement is the true measure of success for your app, but you should never leave it up to fate. Watch how your users are interacting with the app and where they start to drop off. Address the problems and make every step easy and intuitive. The most important thing is to never stop learning and improving.

For an expert app design that’s built to foster engaged users, speak to the Zinc creative team. We’ll work with you to create something that’s tailored to your demographic and industry, delivering something that not only addresses your needs, but surpasses them.

2018 has been a year of great change for Google Ads. It’s been re-christened from AdWords, and has undergone a full rebrand in the way it looks and operates. The next step in this year of reinvention is a step that means great things for advertisers and our clients alike: Responsive Search Ads.

Responsive Search Ads are the biggest change in the way Google Ads works since 2016, when Expanded Search Ads were launched. They changed the way that traditional search ads work for us behind the scenes, providing hundreds of new options for our customers on the front end.

With a traditional search ad, a static text ad is created with a single headline and text. Each variation is manually created, making testing a long process. With the new responsive ads, you’re able to write up to 15 headlines and 4 different descriptions that will dynamically combine to test over 43,000 ad options. As your ad runs, Google intelligently collects data on how they perform, collecting data signals on browsing habits, devices and engagement. With this data, the responsive ad will begin to show the highest performing variations more, optimising the adverts until they’re performing at their best.

Furthermore, Responsive Search Ads are bigger than their predecessors, allowing your ad to take up more space and push competitors down the page. When writing, we suggest getting truly creative. 15 variations of the same theme won’t make a good test – try things that are out of your comfort zone and your usual messaging. They just might work, and if they don’t, they won’t be shown as frequently.

As an agency running successful PPC campaigns for many clients, we’re always happy to see a development that offers more chances for our clients to gain sales and revenue. We can’t wait to see the positive effects that larger ads with a greater capacity for testing will have on our campaigns.

To get an expert take on Responsive Text Ads and to begin your journey into successful paid advertising, get in touch with the PPC team at Zinc Digital today. We’ll be able to guide you through best practices to help you create a dynamic, high-converting text ad.

Healthcare is one of the most competitive industries on the web, for very good reason. A Healthcare company that can be found easily online is benefitting from being the first thing that millions of searchers are seeing. According to Google, one in every 20 searches online are health related. If your business appears in any of those searches you’re reaching an incredible audience, building a relationship based on authority and brand awareness that will benefit you immeasurably going forward.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the practice of refining a website to give it the best chance of appearing high up in a Google search. The value of a high search engine ranking cannot be undersold; without it, you won’t be found. It’s as simple as that.

Unfortunately for most Healthcare providers, the competitive nature of the industry makes SEO a difficult task. It takes a professional knowledge of both the healthcare industry and the ever-changing world of SEO to be in with a chance of succeeding.

A successful Healthcare SEO campaign needs to include the following things:

A well-planned website

You might think that SEO all happens with keywords, but it’s been a long time since that was all it took. Now, search engines look at your website very closely from the code they’re built with to the content on the site. Everything has to have SEO in mind, so if your site isn’t up-to-date, or you didn’t build it to SEO best practice, you’re far less likely to rank. Even things you may not have noticed, like the green padlock that indicates a site is secure, might not be present if you don’t have an up-to-date SSL Certificate.

Depending on your CMS, it might not be as hard as you may think to solve this. WordPress offers plugins that can help bring your site up-to-date. For the best results, get the advice of somebody who will be able to audit your site and highlight any problems you might miss.

Mobile Friendly capabilities

Smartphones are used for 62% of health information searches, so you need to make sure that you’re accommodating for your audience not only from an SEO perspective, but a user experience perspective. Consider mobile appointment bookings, a responsive site and a way to find directions quickly to make sure that your mobile customers have everything they need at their fingertips.

When it comes to Mobile SEO, there are slightly different rules to a standard strategy. You need to be aware of your mobile page loading speed and the responsivity of your site, as well as the keywords you use. Mobile searchers tend to type differently to desktop searchers, so it’s vital that these types of keywords are accounted for in addition to the traditional keywords you may already be using.

A Focus On Local SEO

For the majority of healthcare providers, local business is the only business you want. A nationwide page one ranking is incredible, but the majority of your new patients will be arriving from your local area. Patients want treatment and products from a location that’s near to them. Identify the locations near you that you want to target and begin a local SEO campaign that addresses these places specifically. Local SEO combines citations, off-page links and your on-page content to distinguish which locations your business is serving.

High Trust Flow

Trust is vital in the healthcare business, and it’s no different in healthcare SEO. Just as your patients know that you’re a qualified medical professional with the skills they need, Google needs to know that your site is relevant and trusted by others. It does this by creating a ‘Trust Score’, evaluating the links to your site from other websites. If these links are from high-profile, trustworthy sites, you will see a benefit. Conversely, if they’re from low-quality sites, your site will lose ranking.

Trust Flow is often the decider between two sites that are well optimised on-site. If you have a great trust flow, you’ll rank more highly than your competitors who may not. To achieve this, create citations on online directories and reach out to other sites to gain a link.

Competitor Research

In an online world with lots of competitors, it’s in your best interests to know what they’re doing. Not only can you see what others are doing right, but you’re able to see the things they haven’t got quite right. With this information, a good SEO professional will be able to create a strategy that can take advantage of any missed opportunities, pushing your rankings above your competitor.

Competitor research requires some insider knowledge and some specialist software that’s hard to come by if you’re trying to optimise your site alone. For this part, an SEO professional will be able to audit your competitors and discover the things you should be making the most of.

For a competitor audit, an expert opinion or a full strategy that will help shoot your healthcare business to the top, speak to the expert SEO team at Zinc today. We’ll be happy to help.

Zinc is proud to be amongst the first to have our software platforms available on the new G-Cloud 10 Framework. We have a long history of providing government bodies, local authorities, the NHS and public sector organisations with the leading technology solutions and supported by a high quality service, which is paramount for their service delivery.

G-Cloud is a government initiative, incorporating hosting, software and support providers in a place where trusted suppliers can be compared and reviewed. The providers using the G-Cloud framework must fulfil a series of strict criteria in order to be awarded accreditation. This is a comprehensive set of standards that ensure the quality of the service provided remains high. They must comply with the G-Cloud 10 terms and conditions, the government technology code of practice and the digital-by-default service standard, as well as ensuring that they retain a high level of security and an affordable price point that enables public bodies to use it.

Since its initial launch in 2012, G-Cloud has undertaken regular relaunches. Each supplier must re-apply in order to continue to offer their services on the G-Cloud platform, ensuring that there is a consistently updated database of high-quality suppliers able to offer flexible solutions, ensuring that Government organisations get the best platform for them.

Zinc provides two services to G-Cloud 10 – our enterprise-level Content Management platform, Admin247, and our flagship product, Synapse, our actionable insight platform for incident reporting, intelligence gathering and communications. These products have been supporting government bodies and major UK brands with tailored functionality for years, and we’re delighted to have been awarded the accreditation once again.

Being one of the few organisations included on the G-Cloud 10 Framework highlights Zinc as an organisation trusted by government and public bodies, as well as the the thousands of users that use it on a daily basis.

View our listings on the G-Cloud 10 Digital Marketplace here and here, and get in touch to discuss the way that we could help your government organisation.

As a company that not only designs and builds websites, apps and portals for businesses, but has also developed our own flagship project in the form of Synapse, Technology is an integral part of everything we do here at Zinc Digital.

We’ve been a part of some incredible digital transformations, helping bring companies into the technological age. We’re often a part of the process right from the beginning, when a company has nothing more than a concept. We answer questions and offer support at every stage to help our client achieve the best possible product for them.

There’s one golden rule when it comes to technology. Often, our meetings begin with the question: ‘what are you hoping to achieve with this development’. The answers tend to be insular: better marketing possibilities, a way to gain customer insights, a way to showcase and sell products more efficiently. These are all great benefits of technology development, but they’ve got one problem.

There’s one thing that often has to be said: The consumer doesn’t care about you – what can you do for them?

It’s a shocking thing to hear at times. Nevertheless, it’s something that can truly revolutionise a product from being all about the business to being all about the consumer – and that’s what creates something successful. Some say it’s obvious, but time and time again there are businesses who release apps that are made to benefit them, when their focus should be elsewhere.

The best developers in the world and the most efficient project plan won’t help if your product isn’t considering the end user at every point. There’s no gain in your business spending time and money developing a system that won’t solve a point of pain. Therefore, instead of focusing on whether you can develop something to outdo a competitor or become the first business to take an innovative step, create something that will make an impact to the people who will make or break the product. Happy customers tell their friends, their social networks and use the product regularly enough that you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits you were originally hoping for, whilst creating something that will bring you more return every time.

The best technology benefits everybody, from the creator to the user. Why not come to Zinc with your ideas, and we’ll help you build them into something incredible.

Talk to our technology team today about your needs, goals, and most importantly, your audience today.

Google AdWords is full of underused accounts that are lying dormant. This could be for many reasons – you’ve focused your efforts on another kind of digital marketing, your past agency wasn’t working out, or even a forgotten password! These unused accounts are taking up valuable resources, and therefore slowing down AdWords for the users who are logging in and spending money regularly.

In a recent tweet, Google announced that it would be cleaning up these dormant accounts. From May, any AdWords accounts that haven’t spent in the last 15 months would begin to be cancelled. If your account hasn’t been used for a while, it’s likely that it’s up for cancellation.

The only way to avoid a cancellation is to begin spending money on your AdWords account. That’s where we can help. It shouldn’t be a case of spending a little and then letting your AdWords account fall into disuse again. AdWords is an incredibly effective way to boost sales and drive traffic to your account, so talk to our PPC team to revitalise your AdWords for good.

When your account is cancelled, you’ll not only lose access, but you’ll lose all the valuable historical data from any campaigns you’ve run in the past. You won’t be able to set up any campaigns and use adwords at all, but if you have any unspent prepaid budget, it will be returned to you. It’s possible to reactivate a cancelled account, but after reactivation, you’re up for cancellation again after three months of inactivity.

If you’re thinking of reactivating, it’s a good idea to get some professional advice. A lot has changed on AdWords over the months, so there might be new strategies that would work for you and better ways to organise your campaigns. Reviving an old, unsuccessful campaign isn’t the best way to find new success on AdWords.

For some, it might even be a better option to start from scratch and set up a new adwords account with the most efficient groundwork for you. This way, you won’t have any outdated information and you’re sure to be starting with your best foot forward.

If you’ve used AdWords before but have let it lapse, let the team at Zinc prevent a cancellation whilst improving your leads, conversion and traffic. Talk to us today to learn more.

E commerce has been an important part of the online landscape since it began. In the space of 20 years, the way that we research and buy products has changed beyond recognition. In the age of technology, progress is happening faster than ever before. That’s why it’s even more important to remain well versed with the trends and forecasts in the industry.

Statista predicts that global e commerce sales will increase to 4.5 trillion by 2021; we’re in the middle of a boom that’s showing no signs of stopping. Only the stores that can reach their customers online will be making the most of the potential for sales that they have.

The first step in achieving this is understanding the environment you’re about to go into. That’s why you should know the changes we’re expecting to see in the world of e commerce this year.

Mobile is a Must

Users today are increasingly mobile. 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using a device, and this will only grow. That’s why you need to make sure that mobile purchases are not only a possibility, but a priority when it comes to e commerce. It needs to be easy to navigate and make a purchase without a long load time or unresponsive pages. Without this, you’re missing out on hundreds of users who are researching and purchasing online.

Intelligence

As the world of e commerce becomes increasingly competitive, intelligence is the advantage that will separate the successful businesses from the rest. AI is already becoming a part of daily life – when it comes to e commerce, it will be used to make the buying experience more customer aware. Recommendations will be personalised towards each individual, and you’ll even be able to identify future customers based on their browsing habits and interests.

Automation

E commerce automation used to be the exclusive luxury of giants like Amazon and Google. Automated processes would follow a person’s behaviour on your site, and send a prompt email or suggestions when a user left a purchase uncompleted – and the technology behind it was a closely guarded secret. This potential is now available to businesses of all sizes, enabling a top level service no matter what resources you have.

Voice Search

As a digital agency, we see the trends developing in tandem across all of our service. Voice search is already gaining huge potential in SEO, and will grow with e commerce to match. It’s already possible to ask your phone or virtual assistant (such as Alexa) to search for something for you. Soon, you’ll be able to ask it to purchase a product without needing to even click a button.

E commerce is a business that will never slow down. Its growth in recent years has been exponential, and will only continue to bring success to those who are doing it right. In 2018, ‘doing it right’ means catering to an audience who need their e commerce experience to be quick, easy and tailored to them.

For help implementing a solution that will help your e commerce business adapt and grow, whether it’s marketing, technological or creative, speak to the team at Zinc Digital today.

At Zinc, we’ve worked with many charities. We love working with a diverse range of businesses, but charities might possibly be our favourite. Not only can we be a small part of something truly admirable, but we’re able to help these nonprofits grow by providing them with the guidance to really make a difference.

Many charities have been operating for years, but haven’t modernised their digital approach. To help, we’ve put together a checklist for nonprofits that can help you build a strategy for digital success. Some of this might seem basic, and some we might be able to help you with. All of it is key to growing your charity.

Before you start!

Website

SEO

Paid Search

Content

Email Marketing

Social Media

Zinc is here to help you as we’ve helped many others. Whether it’s a Google Grant or a full website overhaul, you’re in safe hands with us.

Contact us today to get started!

‘I’ve used Google AdWords before and it was a waste of money’. This is something we hear almost every time a new client comes in. We’ve heard all the horror stories, and we’ve cleaned up the messes that have been left by people who aren’t sure how to run a profitable PPC campaign.

And the truth is: yes. Google Adwords will waste your money – if you aren’t working to an informed, strategised plan of action.

It’s far too common for individuals, or even inexperienced digital marketers, to misuse Google Adwords. Unfortunately, this will lead to you wasting money on clicks that aren’t ever going to result in a conversion because they’re incorrectly targeted and poorly implemented.

You’ve not done the research

All too often, we see accounts that are delivering ads to nationwide, or even worldwide locations. They are targeting the wrong range of keywords, and have opted for a broad match on the ones they’ve chosen. These basic mistakes show that even the most fundamental level of research hasn’t been completed, and therefore your advert is being set up to fail. If you’re not sure about your audience, there’s no way that you can deliver them an advert that they’re likely to click on. It’s as simple as that.

You’re not using all of the features on offer

Adwords has a whole host of options for you to use that can help you build a set of higher converting ads. Ad Groups are a vastly underused feature, as are extensions. Advanced location targeted is hidden by default, and it’s even possible to set up your adwords account with ‘Standard’ features, which removes many of the options before you’ve even begun. When you’re using none of these features, you’re automatically at a disadvantage.

You’re sending them to your homepage

Your ads are getting clicks because your audience are interested in the information in the ad copy. Simply sending them to a homepage doesn’t retain this interest – it gives them an overwhelming amount of information, none of which is directly related to what they were looking for. A dedicated landing page which is tailored to your ad, and the offer you’re using, will help you keep that interest and direct it towards a conversion.

You’re not interpreting the data

With Google Adwords, you get an incredible insight into the way your ad is performing. Another far too common mistake is simply setting an ad to run and leaving it. You should be monitoring the data you’re getting and applying that knowledge to make improvements to each ad individually. This data is the closest thing you have to direct audience feedback, so you should be paying close attention to it.

You’re not dedicating daily time to it

Managing an Adwords account is a full time job. It requires regular check-ins to make sure that you’re not spending on a keyword you shouldn’t be or targeting an audience you hadn’t thought to exclude yet. Most people already have a full time job to be doing, so that’s where we come in. It’s not just about the expert knowledge that we’re applying – it’s also about the regular time that we dedicate to making sure that your account is doing as well as it can.

The best advice we can give to those who believe that Adwords is a waste of money is to let us have a professional look at your account. We offer a free PPC health check that can flag up the areas that you might be neglecting. It’s obligation free, but we welcome the opportunity to take an underperforming PPC account and show doubters just how successful it can be with the right management.

Join the list of Zinc clients who are happy to be proven wrong about Adwords – talk to our team today.

In business, innovation is the name of the game. Being the hundredth person to become part of something doesn’t make the same impact as being amongst the first. That’s why we love being a part of the technical transformation – working with companies to create something that will help them be a part of the future.

In almost every business, there is room for technical innovation. There are processes and functions that could be digitised in a way that would revolutionise the way that you work. In many cases, this can come in the form of an app.

Developing an app allows you to be a part of the most important change in the technology industry at the minute: the Internet of Things. Technology is becoming increasingly mobile, and your business could be developing alongside it.

There are a lot of reasons to begin developing an app – could this be yours?

Value

As a business, your primary objective should be to provide your customers with what they need. Providing a service of value is the best way to ensure loyal, happy customers who always come back to you. An app adds value through ease of use, digitising a process such as collecting loyalty points, ordering products, or sending information. The result is happy customers, more downloads and more conversions. Internally, value can be added alongside the speed and efficiency that apps offer.

Visibility

The modern user has a short attention span, so the more visible you can be to them, the better. An app allows you to be always accessible, in the event that a user needs to use your services. What’s more, a presence on their mobile device will make you a familiar name to your audience, ensuring that you’ll be a recognisable and trusted name to them. There are 2.53 billion smartphone users in the world – why aren’t you making sure that your business is operating where they are.

Engagement

With an app that’s built well and targeted accurately, you can make an enormous improvement on the engagement your business has. By being on a device, you’re already in a more social position. Mobile apps offer a more confirmed lead, as your user has already had to download the app itself. Following that, they’re more likely to take the actions you’re hoping for, as the layout of a mobile app enables you to drive targeted action far more effectively. If this is social sharing, the ability to swap quickly to a social network such as Facebook or Instagram will help you get a far better return than traditional desktop sites.

Connect & Learn

The digital age has brought something truly valuable to companies: the ability to connect with your customers in a way that wasn’t possible before. With an app developed to your specifications, you’ll be able to gain the insights you need – how it’s being used, what’s being underused, the regions it’s doing well in. All of this can be collected and used to fuel your future decisions.

The world is mobile – so why isn’t your business? Talk to our technology team today about your needs and we’ll be happy to help.

It’s often the worst nightmare for a webmaster: the dreaded email from Google via search console that informs of a manual action being taken against the website, which is likely to mean that your Google rankings are about to decrease.

At BrightonSEO, I attended a talk about Google penalties by Kaspar Szymanski, who used to work within the web spam team at Google. Kaspar spoke at length about the different types of manual actions that are applied against websites and the reasons behind them.

1) Spam

This type of manual action tends to relate to thin (which is generally considered by Google to be spammy) or low quality content such as doorway pages. Historically this was part of Google’s Panda algorithm, which was introduced by Google back in 2011. In 2016, Google announced that Panda was being incorporated into it’s core algorithm, rather than one off updates.

Usually, the penalty that comes with this action doesn’t mean your site will be completely removed from the search results, it just means that your site is less likely to be visible.

Removing this action will require a thorough review of your website and your content. Once this has been completed, a reconsideration request can be submitted to Google for your site to be reviewed by a member of their web spam team.

2) User Generated Spam

This type of action tends to relate to large community websites, such as blogs or forums, where the comments function is being exploited to add links en masse to other websites or other black hat tactics.

There are a number of ways that you can resolve this before submitting a reconsideration request to Google. This includes making sure your software is running the latest version and you’ve downloaded any recent security patch updates, keeping your forum or blog well moderated and limiting your users ability to link off to other websites.

3) Hacked Content Spam

You’d expect to see this manual action if your website has been compromised by hackers, where malicious code has been injected into the site. It is usually something that is associated with open source software, especially if themes / software / plugins haven’t been kept up to date.

This can not only be a time consuming exercise to fix, including having to possibly re-install your website from a backup, but it also has additional complications. This could be that your website being shown in the search results as being hacked, which in turn is likely lower your click through rate as visitors are unlikely to click on a result that has been hacked.

Once the malicious code has been cleared from your website, the site must be submitted to Google via search console for a reconsideration request.

4) Incorrect Structured Data

Many webmasters are huge fans of structured data. It is an increasingly popular way to jazz up your organic search results and make yourself stand out from the crowd. Whilst having this is an amazing way to increase your SERP click through rates, if not implemented correctly it can result in Google giving the site a manual action.  This will need to be cleaned up and submitted to Google for a reconsideration request. A good tool to use to check your structured data markup is https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/

5) Unnatural Inbound Links

This is by far, one of the most common manual actions given out by Google. This is where Google has deemed the links coming back to your site as unnatural. Often seen as one of the most severe penalties Google gives out, this particular penalty requires a lot of work to resolve, especially if the inbound links are being automatically generated and are continually growing. Often, even changing your domain name won’t help as Google may then apply the same penalty to your new website.

The best way of managing this kind of action, is to run a backlink audit, using tools such as HREFS, SEO SpyGlass or Majestic, which will then give you a list of all the links coming to your site. In the first instance, it is advisable (if possible) to get in touch with the webmasters directly to request for the link to be removed. If this isn’t possible, then a disavow file would need to be submitted to Google in your reconsideration request.

Historically part of the Penguin algorithm, which was first released by Google in 2012, in 2016, Google announced that there would be no further updates to the Penguin algorithm (after 4.0) and that this would become part of the core algorithm.

What else can you do if you receive one of these messages?

If you’ve got a technical understanding of Google algorithms and understand the reason why you’ve had the manual action applied to your site, then you’d be able to self manage, however, these manual actions are often incredibly complex and require an experienced SEO specialist to thoroughly investigate and diagnose the exact cause of the action.If you’ve had one of these emails from Google, which has resulted in a drop off in rankings and organic traffic, please get in touch and we can work with you to get your site back to where it should be.

On April 27th, the Zinc Digital marketing team took to the road and visited Brighton to experience the biggest digital marketing event of the year: brightonSEO. It’s a place to learn about the newest developments in SEO, which is an industry that’s all about adapting and learning.
Fili Wiese from Search Brothers led a conference providing help to those webmasters and site owners who struggle to optimise your website for search robots.
So, if you have ever wanted to know more about why Google does or does not index or crawl your content, then this is a technical blog post just for you.

Below are the top headlines and considerations for what you need to focus on in 2018 to achieve better website indexing.


1. Google bot needs to access your website; consider the importance of and issues of canonicalisation.

2. Be aware of error 5xx’s; how much time Google takes to download your pages.

Why invest in page speed?

Google bot is very conservative in the sense that it does not want to crash your website. If it feels it may crash your site, the bot will slow down and impact how much of the crawl will be completed.

3. Google search bot is chrome based, consider issues around crawling javascript and indexing issues.

4. Consider your web content and how available it is for users across multiple devices.


What is your crawl budget (prioritisation)?
You should know which pages of your website Google crawls.The first crawl may be the top down, then moving to a random crawl with a crawl scheduler as not all URLs are crawled equally.
5. Google may try to crawl URLS which dont exist in its search for new contents. It’s therefore important to manage 404 URLs correctly.

6. Links help discovery and prioritisation towards crawl, it’s important to have contextual internal links as well as a well planned menu architecture.

7. Google still loves new content, planning content around your crawl schedule is often overlooked.

8. External linking (new links coming to website) are still an important factor for assisting with indexing. Building links to new pages is consideration to drive bot and user traffic to your new content.

9. Do not link to internal redirects is still recognised as a major faux paux, it’s worth auditing your incoming links to ensure that they are correctly assigned you could be losing SEO authority from simply having your audience and publishers incorrectly link to your webpages.

10. Using breadcrumbs in your site navigation is a well recognised strategy for helping Google discover and crawl your website, even in 2018.

11.  Avoid duplicate content, this is unlikely to be crawled as a priority by Google Bot.

12. Canonical URLs can be ignored by Google, but Google cannot ignore a 301 redirect, it is well worth reviewing your URL redirect strategies.

Sitemaps – How do you get the best results?

13. It may sound obvious but do not include necessary URLs. Only those which should be priority or will return conversions and value for your business or organisation are required.

If you care about SEO we recommend to audit your website regularly, every 12 months; if you have questions about indexation and your website then give Zinc Digital a call on 01604 59 89 99 we’d love to hear from you.

As a digital agency, Zinc build and host hundreds of websites each year. Hosting is, essentially, where your website is stored. The site is kept on a server, ready to be connected to when a user goes online to visit it. There are many options when it comes to hosting, but Zinc offer the two that suit the needs of our customers the most: shared cloud or dedicated cloud.

Zinc only host our sites on the cloud. This is because cloud hosting provides us with better flexibility, scalability, performance and pricing options that we can pass onto our customers. It’s important to us that the sites we host are easily backed up, and can be recovered in the unlikely event of a server failure. With cloud hosting, we’re able to offer you more security and stability than with other forms of hosting.

We’ll always discuss your needs and requirements with you, and make a recommendation based on our experience. We want to make sure that you understand the options available to you from Zinc, and can always make an informed decision.

 

Choose shared cloud hosting if:

You have one or two sites that aren’t expected to have high amounts of traffic

You are hoping to keep the costs down

 

Choose dedicated cloud hosting if:

Security is a priority

You’ll be taking up a lot of capacity

At Zinc, we’re experts in everything digital. Our hosting is designed to give our customers the highest level of service with minimal downtime. That’s why we always make sure to recommend the hosting solution that works with your needs.

To talk about what your businesses needs from its hosting, talk to the Zinc team today.

When the Zinc Digital Team went to BrightonSEO on April 27th, we each had a different mission. For Chris, our Head of SEO, it was to meet as many fellow SEO geeks as possible. For Phil, our Digital Account Manager, it was to get the answers to some hotly debated questions in the Zinc office. So, as the rest of us took notes, Phil took to the streets and asked some of the biggest names in SEO a few very important things.

Zinc pride themselves on always being at the forefront of the newest developments in everything digital marketing. Thats why weve attended BrightonSEO for three years running, and we plan on being a staple of the conference for years to come! To find out how what we learned can help your business get onto the first page of Google, get your free SEO Audit today.

Zinc Digital sent our marketing team to the biggest digital marketing event in the UK – BrightonSEO. It’s the place where some of the best marketing minds in the country get together to talk about the latest developments in our field.

Khaleel, our Head of PPC, went to a talk by Arianne Donoghue where he learned about the Magnificent 6 – a toolkit of Paid Media resources that can help maximise the performance of Paid Media Advertising Accounts.

1. Identify Client Business Objectives

In order to successfully improve the performance of Paid Media Advertising activity, it’s vital we understand our client’s Business Objectives. This enables us to implement an extensive Paid Media Marketing Plan on how we meet our client’s Business Objectives from paid media advertising goals & targets to relevant paid media advertising channels.

2. Channel Strategy

All Digital Marketing channels play a key role in the customer journey,  however some businesses rely heavily on Google Paid Search. You may want to implement a video marketing campaign on YouTube if you want to raise the awareness of a brand or product & a Prospecting Display marketing strategy to acquire new users to your website. It’s really important to understand your channel strategy because a Digital Marketing channel strategy is unique to your business.

3. Attribution

One of the many buzzwords in Paid Media Advertising right now is Attribution. Many businesses only rely on “last click” attribution. However in 2018 & beyond businesses need to understand the many other attribution models for their business based on their channel strategy. This will enhance your Paid Media Advertising to understand what role each of your Digital Marketing Channels are playing in the customer journey.

4. Audiences

Another important buzzwords at the moment is Audiences. Audiences are playing a bigger role in Paid Media Advertising than ever before. Therefore it is important to tailor your creative based on the audience you are targeting. Just like your channel strategy, your creative needs to be tailored based on your audience. This will enhance your Click Through Rate & therefore improve your ROI.

5. Creative

On average users only spend a split second viewing online adverts – therefore it’s important to ensure your creatives are highly relevant to your users & also eye-catching. Your creatives will play an important role in the channel strategy depending on the Digital Marketing channels chosen in your strategy – You may have Text Ads, Display & Remarketing Responsive Ads & also Social Media Video Ads. Ensuring all of these Ads are tailored to your audience is essential for success.

6. Landing Pages

CRO can have the best ROI across all channels. Why? Because all Digital Marketing channels are driving new & returning visitors to your website – therefore making tweaks to your landing pages will improving the conversion rate of all users to your website & improve your ROI.

Zinc Digital are never afraid to try new things, especially if it means that our clients could be getting even better results from our Paid Search services. To see what a difference a professionally managed PPC page could do for your business, get in touch today.

On Friday 27th April, the Zinc Digital Marketing Team attended the biggest digital marketing event in the country – BrightonSEO. We like to be at the forefront of the newest developments in everything we do, so we sent our team armed with notepads and plenty of Zinc business cards. There were talks on everything from advanced SEO to the most experimental techniques around.

Our in-house Content Writer, Caitlin, attended a talk by Eleni Cashell where she explained the pitfalls, consequences and solution for duplicate content. This is an issue that Zinc’s SEO team can encounter quite regularly, and that we’d love our clients to know about as well.

The internet is full of duplicated content – 29% of it, and rising every day. In a situation when your site has the exact same content as another site, the Google crawlers don’t know who is the most relevant, or who the content originally belonged to. As a result, everybody’s ranking suffers.

Eleni works for a site that offers information for prospective students, to help them choose a university. Part of this involved content being supplied from universities to describe and sell themselves to the site visitors. However, the majority of the content supplied by their users was lifted directly from their own websites and marketing material, essentially filling Eleni’s site with hundreds of pages of duplicate content.

This duplicate content was having a significant negative effect on the site rankings. Clients were asking why the site wasn’t getting the traffic and attention it should, when in fact the target market were simply finding the information in the other places it appeared on the web.

Eleni then embarked on a mammoth mission: removing and rewriting every piece of duplicate content on the site.

As a Digital Agency, Zinc often requires our clients to send us the content that they want in their site. More often than not, this is content that is copied directly from a previous site or even from a competitor – and this can spell real trouble for your search engine rankings. If your site uses press releases or features product descriptions, you need to be aware of the amount of duplicated content on your site.

Once you know exactly what you’re dealing with, make the plan of action:

  1. Find and list every piece of duplicate content – you can use Copyscape or Google to pinpoint it all.

  2. Internally and externally communicate with everybody who will be affected by your content audit. Will you be rewriting it or removing it? Make sure that your clients and team are aware of the change, and those who will need to be doing the work are aware of what is happening and why.

  3. Formulate and stick to guidelines. You need to make sure that the new content is high quality, not still duplicated and delivered to you on time.

  4. Have a single point of contact for your clients to speak with, and have this person maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of the project progress. Allow feedback and listen to them.

  5. Maintain your content quality once you are finished.

As always, Google can take a while to show the benefits of SEO. Patience will pay off. After two years, Eleni’s site is now reaping the rewards of their unique content strategy. They’ve seen a 51% increase on entrances, and over 100% increase on postgraduate search as a direct result. That’s an incredible result, from a change that every one of us can make.

At the end, you’ll have a site full of exclusive content. That’s a USP that most can’t claim, so make sure that your hard work is not only appreciated, but celebrated. This is something that can appear on marketing collateral and social media, but only if you maintain that standard going forward.

Zinc Digital are here to help with your SEO strategy. We don’t accept duplicate content on our site, or for any of the clients we work with and write for. That’s why we get the best SEO results in Northamptonshire. Get in touch with us today to see what we can do for you.

GDPR is the new standard in Data Protection. When it comes into effect on 25th May 2018, every business in the EU will need to comply with a new set of guidelines that control and protect the data that’s used and collected on a daily basis.

One of the most important obligations you have as an organisation is the requirement to gain consent from your users. The critical words that have been added to this obligation are ‘unambiguous’ and ‘affirmative’ – this means that it is no longer acceptable for inaction or automation to be counted as consent. Your users need to actively opt in, with the ability to see exactly what they are agreeing to and how they can retract their consent if they change their mind.

This is one of the many rights of the individual that have been clarified and expanded to offer a higher level of protection under GDPR. Each addition gives your users the ability to control their data in a new way, which in turn gives you and your business an obligation to comply with this.

The right to be informed

Your users have the right to know about the collection and use of their data. You should provide this to them when you collect their data, though the format this explanation is up to you. This could be via a privacy policy, just-in-time notice or pop-up. No matter what, however, the GDPR states that the information must be easy to read, free and accessible.

The information you are likely to need to provide is:

The right of access

Beforehand, individuals could request access to their information but it was often made difficult by organisations. Now, it must be provided for free and in a commonly used formats. What’s more, if the request has been raised online, the data you provide must also be given in a digital format.

The information you are likely to need to provide is:

The right to rectification

If you have collected inaccurate or missing data regarding a user, that individual has the right to have it corrected or completed. This is especially necessary if the data is misleading in any way. You may receive a request for rectification verbally or in writing, and must offer a response. If you believe the information is not inaccurate, you can refuse to rectify. Include evidence and point them towards the ICO if they would like to escalate the issue.

The action you are likely to need to take is:

The right to erasure

Often also referred to as the ‘Right To Be Forgotten’, this is not a new concept in Data Protection. Nevertheless, with GDPR the rules regarding this course of action have developed to make things easier on the user. Individuals can request complete erasure of the data that you hold on them in the event that it is no longer necessary for the original purpose, or if they want to retract consent. You are permitted to refuse a request for erasure in certain, very special, circumstances. This could be if you are complying with a legal obligation, operating as an official authority or in the public interest.

The action you are likely to need to take is:

The right to restrict processing

In some cases, there will be a legitimate need to retain the data you are collecting. In these cases, a user will have their requests for erasure rejected, but as an organisation you may still need to change the way you handle their data. This is restricted processing, in which you are permitted to store the data that you have, but not use it.

The action you are likely to need to take is:

The right to data portability

With this right, your users have the capability to transfer the data you hold to another IT environment, such as another provider of your service.

The action you are likely to need to take is:

The right to object

Individuals have the right to object to their data being processed for the purposes of scientific or historical research, for direct marketing, and by an official authority.

The action you are likely to need to take is:

Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling

Increasingly, data collection and use is becoming an automated process. This kind of automated decision making and profiling is still covered by the GDPR. This means that you will still have to provide reasoning and gain consent for all of your data processing, as well as making your privacy policy clear regarding this. If all of your decision making is automated, there may be further rules that apply to you.

The action you are likely to need to take is:

Zinc is a digital agency that offers support and services while implementing a gap analysis or internal review. We cannot advise on your individual needs, and do not accept responsibility for any non-compliance

To talk about how we can help action the points raised in a gap analysis or internal review, call us today.

Gamification is a form of marketing in which an everyday activity is made into something engaging, fun and interactive by including the same tactics many games use.

You’ve probably experienced gamification before, whether you know it or not. Very simple forms of gamification are loyalty point schemes, a progress bar, or a fundraising thermometer. Providing a clear aim can help guide users to complete an action. It’s the reason your LinkedIn shows a completion percentage on your profile, and why your local coffee shop has a loyalty card.

For charities, Gamification offers a unique opportunity. It’s a way to create an engaged, active audience whilst spreading your message and raising money. Here are our key tips for charities considering Gamification.

Simplicity

Consider some of the most popular games of the past few years. Flappy Bird, Candy Crush and Farmville are all prime examples of taking a relatively basic concept and making it addictive. The key here is creating a game that isn’t hard to understand, but isn’t easy to play. Apply this to your own needs – if you’re planning a sponsored run, create an app to gamify the training process. If you’re hoping for fundraising, a local leaderboard to help motivate volunteers.  

Give Goals

Above all, the most important thing to include is a goal. Offering something to aim for will keep your users coming back each time. This can be anything that suits your game and your branding; points, badges, levels, or leaderboards are just a few options. Any combination of these will create the drive needed for a little healthy competition!

Virality

The thing that will really be your key to success is shareability. Offer a reward for social media shares, show users what scores their friends have achieved, and foster a sense of healthy competition. If you’re able to offer prizes, whether they are physical or digital, it will increase the sense of achievement and the likelihood of a share.

A great example of a charity using Gamification to their advantage is the Help for Heroes ‘Hero Bears’ app. It was a simple platformer game that involved bears collecting coins, but a significant portion of the cost of the app went to charity.

We’ve been part of some exciting Gamification projects before, and we’d love to get involved with yours! Get in touch today to find out more.

The home and garden business is built around the seasons. With spring comes the planting of new bulbs and a spring clean, and with winter comes frost protection and holiday decoration. Just as you stock your shelves to account for this seasonality, you should be considering your digital marketing in the same way.

Anything from the TV listings to the weather can affect your online sales, so always stay aware and ready to respond. Sudden heat wave? You should be thinking about lawnmowers, hose attachments, and outdoor furniture. In a cold snap, it’s time to push frost protection and bird feeds.  

What is remarketing?

Remarketing is a form of paid advertising in which you are able to advertise to your customers who have already visited your site as they browse the internet. Ads are shown over the Google Display Network, which is a collection of websites that allow advertising on their page. This includes YouTube, as well as some of the most frequently visited sites on the internet. The Display Network reaches over 90% of internet users, so you can be sure that your previous customers won’t forget about you!

Why should I use remarketing?

Remarketing can be used to deliver your customers the product they need, before they realise they need it. By utilising your own industry knowledge, you’ll be able to predict the products that people will be searching for.

Vegetables are the perfect example for this kind of marketing. Many people have a vegetable garden, which will require different planting dates for many of the crops. Therefore, if a customer has already bought a product from your vegetable range, it’s a prime marketing opportunity to advertise other vegetables at the perfect time to plant them.

Gardening is all about working with the seasons. We think your digital marketing should be the same. We’ll help you plan a digital marketing strategy that fits your home and garden business perfectly. Get in touch today for a free consultation.

The cache is a local copy of the from a web page. Some of the text, images, and data from a site is stored to enable a quicker load time . It’s used by browsers to keep load times minimal, enabling pages to load without having to download all the information from scratch.

Clearing a browser cache deletes the data that your browser has stored on a website. This forces it to load a brand new version of the site, so that you can be sure that you’re seeing the most recent version.

Internet Explorer (9,10 & 11)

Click on the Gear icon and go to Tools > Safety > Delete browsing history

Make sure to uncheck Preserve Favorites website data and select both Temporary Internet Files and Cookies then Delete.

You will get a confirmation at the bottom of the window once it has successfully cleared your cache and cookies.

Exit and re-open your browser.

Safari

Go to Safari in your Menu Bar, then select Preferences > Privacy and choose Remove All Website Data.

Confirm it by clicking on Remove Now.

Exit and re-open your browser.

Firefox

Go to your Menu Bar and choose History > Clear Recent History. If your menu bar isn’t visible, hold Alt to make it visible.

In the box that appears, choose the date range you’d like to clear – for your whole cache you’ll need to select ‘Everything’. Check all of the boxes in the Details section to make sure that the entire cache is cleared.

Click Clear Now.

Exit and re-open your browser.

Chrome

Go the Menu in the top right hand corner of your browser.

Click on Settings, which will open a new tab.

Click on Advanced > Privacy and Security > Clear Browsing Data.

Choose the date range and data you’d like to delete, making sure that Cached images and files is checked before you click.

Exit and re-open your browser.

Edge

Go to the Menu (three dots in the top right hand corner)

Choose Settings and then Choose What To Clear beneath the Clear Browsing Data header.

Choose the data you’d like to delete and confirm by clicking Clear.

Exit and re-open your browser.

Every business within the EU needs to be preparing for the new GDPR. The 25th May 2018 deadline is nearing, and from that day your business is at risk of substantial consequences if it is found to be non-compliant.

If you’re researching GDPR, it’s likely that you’re already aware of many of the obligations that your company has. Nevertheless, to begin with your company will need to undergo a gap analysis that can tell you where you need to improve.

Alongside your gap analysis, there are a few things that almost every business uses in their day-to-day running that could cause problems with compliance with GDPR.

Analytics

Google Analytics is a staple of most marketing strategies. It uses cookies to track every visitor to your site so that you can see where they go and what interests them. However when you consider GDPR, Google Analytics could be putting your company in a difficult position. To make sure that your analytics use is GDPR compliant, make sure you take these steps.

Check What’s Being Collected – make sure that the data that you are collecting isn’t personally identifiable by the GDPR’s regulations. This means that analytics shouldn’t be collecting usernames in your page URLs, phone numbers in form completions or email addresses.

Turn on IP Anonymisation – the GDPR considers an IP address as Personally Identifiable Information. Therefore, you should make sure to protect this by turning on IP address anonymisation. We will be implementing this as standard for any clients who we set up Google Analytics for. If youd like any help with this, please get in touch with our support team.

Forms

Almost every website has a form for customers to use to get in touch. Previously, entering your details into a form like this would likely sign you up to a mailing list and potentially even lead to your details being passed along. Now, your forms need to be transparent regarding the data they are collecting.

Consent – Affirmative consent is one of the most important new additions to the regulations. Your forms need to have a checkbox in which the user agrees to their data being stored, and to being contacted as a result of the form. You’ll need to be clear about why you’re collecting the data, and what you’ll be doing with it.

SSL

An SSL Certificate is already an important addition to any site that handles data, but with the new GDPR obligations it is now vital. Although it’s not required to be fully compliant, an SSL will encrypt any data that your site transmits to ensure that it cannot be intercepted. In the event of an audit, having an SSL will show that you are making every effort to protect your users.

When purchasing an SSL, you need to be aware of the difference between the low-cost and premium SSL certificates. There are number of providers online that offer SSLs at a reduced price. The majority of SSL certificates use the same SHA-2 and 2018-bit encryption; the main difference between these SSLs and the ones provided by premium organisations such as Zinc is the level of warranty available. In the event that your end user loses money as a result of an SSL failure, your provider will reimburse them. Low-cost SSL providers offer a far smaller warranty, putting your company in the position that they may have to compensate a user for their losses in this instance. Zinc Digital offer Thawte SSL Certificates that offer a minimum warranty of $500,000.

Privacy Policy

Most websites now have a privacy policy on as standard, but with the advent of GDPR you will need to update it to be clearer and cover some of the new obligations you have. Long, unintelligible privacy policies are no longer allowed – your privacy policy needs to be written in plain language as well as being easy and free to access.

The information needs to be updated to provide the facts about:

This information should all be known to you through your standard GDPR preparations, and could even help you to discover gaps in your strategy that could lead to sanctions in an audit.

Zinc Digital cannot create a privacy policy for you, but we can recommend suppliers that can provide this service.

Zinc Digital are undergoing a Gap Analysis to highlight the improvements we should be making on our protection regulations. We advise that all organisations take this step as their first point of action. We can then assist you in implementing the changes you will need to make as a result of this.

We can help your business with:

Call us today to discuss your gap analysis and begin your journey to GDPR compliance.

IoT, better known as the Internet of Things, is something that’s a part of your daily life – whether you know it or not. If you use your TV to stream shows, your phone to control your thermostat, or your fitness tracker to tell you how active you are, you’re using the internet of things.

Put simply, the Internet of Things is the inclusion of connectivity into a device that wouldn’t ordinarily have any intelligence. It’s more than wifi capability – the true potential lies with sensors. Rolls Royce engines use a sensor to send information about how they’re operating, enabling engineers to know when a problem is developing before it becomes an issue. John Deere collects data on the time, methods, and locations of crop harvests to better understand the way that farmers work. These businesses have taken the concept of IoT and turned it into a way to set their organisation apart from others.

IoT in the workplace isn’t just about having a connected workforce – it’s about incorporating emerging technologies into your business to keep your organisation at the forefront of its industry.

Your business will operate faster

Many of the benefits to your business that IoT brings can be simply summarised into one phrase: ‘it will work far more efficiently’. If you use or make equipment, there’s potential to reduce maintenance costs, avoid unexpected failures, and (). If you sell products, you’ll be able to manage inventory, Your staff will be more connected and more efficient. All in all, your business will have the ability to work more productively, for less cost.

You’ll have a deeper understanding of your customers

With the power of the internet behind you, you could have a direct connection to your product. You’ll be able to see exactly how it’s being used, which functionalities it’s lacking, and engage with your customers constantly. This is how companies develop products that fit their target market’s needs, whether that’s smart TVs with the most in-demand services or healthcare providers that can help monitor symptoms.

You’ll be able to make informed, smart decisions

The data that you could gain from this understanding should inform the decisions you make going forward. There’s clear, statistical information regarding staff requirements, machine efficiency and potential opportunities that can help you keep your organisation profitable, productive, and developing. It’s the level of insight that most businesses can only dream of.

You’ll have endless opportunities to innovate

When it comes to the Internet of Things, you aren’t limited to what you think is possible, or even needed. It’s time to think bigger. Adding intelligence to the items you use on a daily basis could revolutionise the way you work, and transform your company into an entirely new way of working. The data you collect could become a catalyst for a shift in the way you do business, or be valuable to an audience you never anticipated.

The Internet of Things brings with it an entirely new way to look at your organisation. The world around us is growing smarter, and it’s the companies that are ahead of the curve that truly thrive in this environment.

Zinc Digital are, first and foremost, innovators. We work with organisations and authorities across the country to bring technology solutions that will bring your business into the age of smart working. Get in touch and tell us about your business today.

As a technology company, Zinc have always had to be proactive about data security. We’re currently working towards our ISO27001 accreditation, and advise hundreds of clients each month on how to keep their businesses secure.

Businesses carry an enormous amount of vital data, from information about your employees and operations to the clients that you have. It’s your responsibility as a company to protect this data.

Here’s what you need to know about protecting the data your company holds.

Your WiFi may be more vulnerable than you think

When a device connects to your company wifi, it has a connection to every other device on that network. In a business, these other devices are very likely to have sensitive data from both your company and your customers.

In order to protect your business from this kind of threat, a guest wifi is a good idea to ensure that the company data is isolated. This way, you have complete control over who is connecting to your network.

Generic passwords are everywhere

In the annual list from SplashData in which the most common passwords are named and shamed, ‘123456’ and ‘Password’ are still holding the top two spots. These passwords may be easy to remember, but they’re also incredibly easy to crack.

It’s best to choose a password that includes both upper and lower-case letters, as well as some special characters. We’d also recommend changing this password regularly, and varying it for different sites, so that one breach doesn’t lead to several.

Educate your employees

Almost two thirds of data breaches are caused by human error. By clicking on a suspicious link, downloading something they shouldn’t, or connecting their device to an untrustworthy network, employees expose their company to online threats. Education is the best security measure that can be taken here – many don’t realise the risk that they’re exposing their company to.

Keep your machines clean

It might seem like your machine is constantly suggesting updates, but this is for a very good reason. Often, these updates are a steady stream of patches for the security issues that have only just been discovered. If you don’t update, your software isn’t prepared to defend against risks that are now known to people who will want to take advantage of them.

Always keep a backup

Most companies have a contingency plan for disasters such as a data-centre outage or a physical problem, but it’s common to overlook a cyber-attack. It’s important to consistently backup your files to avoid any data loss. A regular backup is vital, but many companies don’t have one, or fail to store it in a safe place in preparation for an online attack.

Here at Zinc, we keep a daily backup so that we can restore everything we’ve been working on. This is stored on the cloud, so that it can be recovered in any event.

Zinc’s technology and support departments depend on good security measures. Make sure that your company is taking care of its data, and the data of your customers by speaking to our support team.

9th April 2018

25th May 2018 is a date that needs to be in the calendar of every business, large and small, in the UK and EU. This is when the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect. After this date, companies that aren’t complying with the new regulations could be subject to significant sanctions. For a full overview of GDPR and what it might mean for you, please see our Understanding GDPR page.

The new requirements are complex, but they have one overarching goal: to improve the way that data is handled by corporations by protecting individuals. Part of this protection is adding clarity to the definitions of ‘personal data’ and ‘sensitive personal data’. As a business owner, you need to be aware of the new definitions, and what they mean to the way that you will be handling data.

Under the regulations, personal data is protected. Within personal data is a subcategory of sensitive personal data which must have further measures applied in order to comply.

Personal Data

According to the ICO, Personal Data is ‘any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier’. Put simply, this is any information which could potentially lead to an individual being found, either physically or digitally. This could be:

However it also includes indirect identifiers such as:

Sensitive Personal Data

The ICO defines Sensitive Personal Data as a ‘special categories of personal data’. This is the data that could not only lead to identification, but deals with data that is of a discrete nature or could potentially place the individual in a compromising situation.

One you understand the nature of the data that you or your business handles, you’ll need to know your responsibilities regarding it. This depends on whether you are a controller or processor.

To determine if you’re a controller or processor, you’ll need to answer two questions:

  1. Do you or your business choose the way that data is collected
  2. Do you or your business choose the reason that data is collected

If you’ve answered yes to these, you’re a controller. This means that you’re responsible for implementing the measures that will protect the data you’re in control of. On the other hand, a processor is a business or entity that collects or processes data on behalf of others, without control over it.

For example, a doctor’s surgery or bank would be a controller as they collect the data for their own reasons, but a payroll company or a Digital Agency such as Zinc is a processor as they are acting on behalf of another.

Once you know what your business is classified as, you’ll be able to understand your obligations and get a gap analysis. Zinc Digital cannot offer advice regarding your GDPR compliance, but we can help you implement the suggestions recommended in a third party or internal gap analysis.

To discuss your gap analysis, get in touch with us today.

Zinc Digital has spent years working within the Healthcare industry, providing websites, secure portals, service apps and staff intranets to organisations across the country. We pride ourselves on offering the most innovative solutions available – and that’s why we’re amongst the first in the country to move everything into the new Health & Social Care Network (HSCN).

HSCN, or the Health and Social Care Network, was implemented to replace the N3 system. It’s solves some of the issues that were associated with the previous offering, which was becoming outdated and inflexible.

With the new HSCN, the possibilities in terms of healthcare technologies are endless. There is now the capability for a range of connectivity solutions, including mobile connectivity. The difference that this will make to clinicians will be significant. At the moment, service providers who work in the community must wait until they can access the network to share data. This can lead to delays in updating important patient care information, which in turn can slow down response times and action.

Communication between organisations will also be greatly improved. The HSCN will connect doctors, pharmacists, and social care workers to the same system, without the restrictive services previously imposed by the N3. Whereas the N3 Network was a single supplier network, the HSCN is a set of connectivity, service management and security requirements.

In order to offer this to our clients, Zinc has complied with the guidelines set out by the HSCN to become a provider of platforms hosted securely through Carelink’s cloud infrastructure, which has which has direct connectivity into both HSCN and the Internet, in order to protect service users and staff.

The Healthcare industry is one that has specific needs and requirements. Zinc Digital have over 14 years of experience meeting and surpassing these requirements to offer our clients only the best. To discuss your healthcare business requirements, or to talk about a new project, get in touch with us today.

What Your Small Business Needs To Know About GDPR

29th March 2018

In the digital age, data is king. Every business runs on the data it uses; when making business decisions, advertising to their users or developing new technologies. Until recently, the data laws that protected the general public were from 1998 – a time before data giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon were collecting the wealth of information on their users on a daily basis.

The EU recognised the need to bring in a new set of regulations to replace the Data Protection Directive (1998) that would recognise the way that data was being used in the modern day, and rectify the problems arising from its misuse. An example is the recent Cambridge Analytica story in which the information from millions of Facebook profiles was gathered and used to interfere with major political events such as the 2016 US Election and the EU Referendum. By implementing these laws, the EU hopes to not only protect the general public from the misuse of their data, but to have a clear set of consistent guidelines for every organisation or individual within the EU.

It’s for this reason that on 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into force across Europe. It will build on the data protection framework already put in place by the Data Protection Directive, adjusting some of the existing regulations, adding a considerable amount of new requirements for organisations and defining new rights for the individual.

GDPR is a complex set of regulations with many facets, but there are some key aspects that every business should know:

Consent

The data your business collects should be only collected with the express, unambiguous consent of the party. Inaction, assumed consent, or pre-ticked boxes will no longer count as consent.

Data Protection Officer

Whenever possible, your firm should appoint a Data Protection Officer to manage and monitor your data governance. In some cases, this is mandatory; if you’re a public authority, regularly monitor individuals as a company or frequently process sensitive data such as criminal convictions or information regarding health, religious belief or sexual orientation. For other organisations, it’s not a compulsory part of compliance, but remains a prudent decision.

Privacy

New systems should be designed with data protection in mind, and conduct a data protection impact assessment to ascertain if action should be taken. This can be performed internally or through a third party company. Zinc Digital do not offer an analysis service, but can assist with the implementation of necessary actions following your assessment.

EU Transfers

Data that will be transferred out of the EU must still be given an appropriate level of protection – this includes personal data transferred under the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement.

Personal Data

Every organisation should know what personal data they handle, and the related data flow.

Data Subject Rights

Your users now have rights that you should be aware of; the right to be forgotten, the right to data portability, the right to erasure and recitication. They also have the right to request the reasoning behind your data collection, as well as any automated decisions. For more information on Data Subject Rights,

Legal Basis For Processing

If you process any data, which the majority of businesses do, you need a legal basis for this. There are six legal reasons for this

Data Security and Controls

Your company must have sufficient data security controls to protect data. It’s a requirement to report a breach to the ICO or relevant authority within 72 hours, and to the data subject if the breach puts them at risk of having their rights or freedoms compromised.

Principles

The principles of the GDPR must be upheld; organisations must ensure that data subjects have control over the protection of their data through transparency, lawfulness, purpose and confidentiality.

The new obligations that will be asked of organisations apply to every business, no matter the size. Previously, small companies were at a lower risk of consequences. Now that the rules are standardised, the ramifications of breaching the GDPR are also standard. Businesses could be subject to a fine of up to 4% of their global annual turnover, or £20,000,000 – whichever is larger. The financial impact of infringing the GDPR could be devastating to a small business. Companies have a responsibility not only to comply with these regulations, but to demonstrate this compliance by documenting their policies and procedures. As standard, your business should be preparing itself to present evidence of compliance in the event of an audit.

For consumers, there are equally important things to consider. Every internet user will have new and comprehensive rights that will change the way the sites they visit interact with them.

The right to be informed – as a user, an organisation must be honest with you about how your data is being used. The information must be concise, simple and free to access, and easily understandable.

The right of access – individuals can receive confirmation that their data is being processed as well as access to the personal data

The right to rectification – if the personal data is inaccurate, users have the right to request that it is corrected both in the organisation’s records, and those of any third parties that the data has been shared with.

The right to erasure – an individual can have their personal or sensitive data erased in the event that they retract consent, or if is is no longer necessary for the original purpose.

The right to restrict processing – In some circumstances, such as a legal requirement to retain data or an objection denied for legitimate interests, organisations must instead restrict processing.

The right to data portability – Users can gain access to and reuse their personal data as they wish, including moving, copying or transferring the data to another environment. This must be provided securely, and in a usable format.

The right to object – individuals can object to their data being processed for scientific or historical research, for direct marketing, and by an official authority.

Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling – in the event that an automation leads a significant effect on the user, the individual has the right to object to the action, gain human assistance and gain an explanation for the decision.

Zinc Digital is a digital agency that is working with organisations to help achieve GDPR compliance. Whilst we won’t advise you on your own specific GDPR requirements, we can assist you in implementing the actions advised in a third party or internal gap analysis.

 

Agile is an approach to project management that challenges the traditional ‘Waterfall’ Method of development.

With Waterfall, the stages of design are followed sequentially. Each stage must be complete before moving onto the next stage. This means that any changes in the brief will require the entire project to return to the first stages of project management for specification and planning before any action can be taken. This takes time, wastes resources, and can result in a project that doesn’t deliver the client’s needs.

Agile offers something slightly different. The vital stages of project management are still followed, but are broken into smaller sub-projects. Each stage of the project follows the same process, but on a smaller scale which allows for a more focused workforce and a more flexible way of working. 

 

 

Speed

In the technology industry, speed is everything. Innovation is a race, and the most efficient developers invariably win. Agile Development allows you to release each stage of development as soon as it’s ready, with newer functionalities added at a later date. This enables your project to be the first on the market, at the forefront of innovation instead of becoming one of many.  

Flexibility

The technological landscape of 2018 is incredibly fast moving. A novel idea at the beginning of a project might be obsolete by the end, so it’s important to have the flexibility provided by Agile to account for changes. With Waterfall, last minute changes will cause expensive delays. The Agile Methodology allows for adaptation without the need to send the entire project back to the first stages of development/

Communication

Agile Methodology requires consistent communication with the client. Your project manager will receive feedback from the client frequently, which enables you to create a product that you know fits their brief and their needs.

Customer Satisfaction

Not every customer has a firm idea of what they want or need at the time they create their brief. The product they want at the early stages may not incorporate emerging technologies or the new ideas that have arisen in the time it takes to develop it. With the flexibility of Agile comes the assurance that the end product will still be fit for purpose, at a preferable time frame.

The Agile methodology has begun to exceed project management. It’s becoming a part of company culture in which speed, flexibility and communication are key.

Put simply, Agile methodology enables our company to deliver a product that suits our client’s needs implicitly. This could be to a time frame, functionality requirement, or a changing brief.

To discuss your technology needs, contact Zinc Digital today.

 

 

If a website is the first thing a business should be investing in, making it mobile friendly should be step two. In 2018, it’s going to become even more important to make your site accessible for all devices.

What makes a website mobile friendly? There are a few ways to adapt your website to mobile, but here at Zinc, we make all of our sites fully responsive. This means that we not only minimise load times and clean up content, but we also develop our sites to detect and adapt to any screen size. Especially when your target audience is particularly active on mobile devices or will be making purchases on mobile, it’s a vital part of development.

We incorporate responsive web design as standard, because as a digital agency we know the difference it makes. Here’s why:

The world is going mobile

Worldwide, over 80% of internet users own a smartphone and many even use a device as the primary way to access the internet at home. Mobile internet is a part of our daily lives, and businesses need to make sure that they are adapting. If your customers are coming to your site on a mobile, you need to be able to accomodate them.

Conversion rates depend on device

As more consumers are using their devices to browse, the mobile conversion rates are increasing rapidly. The average smartphone conversion rate has gone up by 64% when compared to desktop conversion rates.

A perfect example of this is Black Friday 2017. Mobile transactions hit a record high as more users took advantage of the deals from the comfort of their own home.

Your SEO ranking will benefit

As of 2017, it was confirmed that the majority of search traffic is on a mobile device, and Google has definitely taken notice. Nobody except Google knows exactly how their algorithms, but load time and mobile responsivity is a known factor. If your site doesn’t accommodate its mobile users, its search engine rankings will be suffering.

As of early 2018, Google will be launching their Mobile-First Algorithm. This means that they will be indexing the mobile version of the internet ahead of the desktop version. Sites that don’t perform well on mobiles w

Mobile/Desktop behaviour differences

Without responsive web design, you could be turning away hundreds of customers. Device users behave differently to those on desktop devices – they prefer not to search for information, scroll less, and generally have less patience for slow loading pages.

If you have high bounce rates and no mobile-responsivity, it’s very likely that you’ll see a great improvement from a site that’s tailored to your mobile users. Seeing as those on mobile tend to spend more than desktop users, it’s definitely worth making your website responsive.

The most important thing to remember for your mobile site is that you are aiming for speed, efficiency and relevancy.

To discuss your website’s mobile responsivity needs, get in touch with our creative team at Zinc Digital today. We offer a full site review to show you exactly how we can help.

 

An increasing number of Healthcare companies are creating an online presence for themselves. This is a great way to grow your practice or spread important messages; the vast majority of people begin their search for a new service online.

When a user arrives at your website, you want to convert them to a lead. A conversion is simply when a user takes the action you hope they will – whether this is to fill in a form, book an appointment. You’ll know if your website is working for you if you get patients approaching you online.

If you’re not getting the conversions you want, make sure that you’ve considered some of the following tips.

Stay mobile

In the health industry, almost 60% of the traffic is on a mobile device. A site that’s not prepared to accommodate users who are on a device is a site that will be losing customers. There are a few ways to optimise your site for mobile, but the best way is to ensure that it is fully responsive.

Track Your Conversions

It’s important to know where you’re starting if you’re hoping to improve. If you don’t already have Google Analytics set up, this should be your first port of call. From this, you’ll be able to see how your site is performing, so you can then see the results! You’ll also know what a normal conversion rate is for you – for some, a conversion rate of 3% is great, and for others it’s very low.

Identify Your Issues

There are many things that could be putting off a potential client. We usually recommend CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation – to identify what is working for or against your site. This tracks how users behave when they arrive at your site, so that you can clearly see where they might be getting turned away. At the very least, ask somebody who has never used your site to try a conversion. They might be able to tell you what is putting off your site visitors.

Test and Measure

Once you’ve identified the issue, it’s time to make changes and see the results. As Digital Marketers, we’re advocates of testing a variety of solutions. If the buttons on the site aren’t being used, try a few different Calls to Action, or another colour. By using A/B testing, you can try out two solutions and choose the one that performs best. Don’t be afraid to try something that you might not be sure about – you might be surprised.  

Make It Easy

Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to improving a conversion rate, there’s one general rule to keep in mind: Keep It Simple. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to find out the information they need or to get in touch with you. Make sure that your location is clear, your phone number is on every page, and that you don’t use too much complex terminology. Forms should be on the front page, or at the very least be signposted. If your customer has to search too hard, they will go somewhere that’s easier to interact with.

As Digital Marketers, our advice is to be constantly monitoring your site and making improvements. This should be through CRO, customer feedback, and your own knowledge of your industry. There’s rarely such thing as an 100% conversion rate, so there will always be at least some room for improvement.

To find out more about Conversion Rates and how Digital Marketing can help you, get in touch with Zinc Digital today.

A Content Management System (CMS) is the building blocks of almost every website on the internet. They’re used to build and manage sites, so the CMS that you choose will become an integral part of the way your business operates.

At Zinc, we use both WordPress and our bespoke CMS to build our sites. We’ve been in business for as long as WordPress has been available, so we’re well versed in helping our clients understand the risks and rewards of each system.

What is WordPress?

Best described, WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) which uses PHP and MySQL. WordPress is the most popular website management or blogging system in use on the World Wide Web, supporting more than 20% of all websites used today.

What is Admin247?

At Zinc, we have created our own proprietary CMS. It is created in a similar way to WordPress, using PHP and MySQL to create an easily manageable, modular system, but with one major difference: it is built and supported in house. This means that we have the capability to create bespoke functionality, build your site entirely around your requirements, and offer expert support on your system.

What are the benefits from using WordPress?

1. The great thing about WordPress is you can choose to use an existing theme design or have a theme designed just for you!

2. There are thousands of Plugins which integrate with WordPress, from galleries and forms to SEO and back ups. You name it, there is likely to be a pre developed Plugin which will suit you

3. WordPress is so easy to update.

Do search engines love WordPress?

Yes! As a blogging platform WordPress provide rich content and pages which can be easily crawled by search engines. Couple this with easy access to Open Graph data and easy population of metadata, you have access to professional level of SEO capability and a wide array of plugins to help optimise content and images further.

What is WordPress used for?

WordPress launched as a blogging system platform but has since become an option for everything from e-commerce to forums. Imagination truly is the limit with WordPress, so no matter how unusual your site is, get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.

WordPress and SEO

Many think that WordPress comes with an integral SEO advantage, but this isn’t the case. WordPress has easily incorporated SEO plugins such as Yoast or All in One SEO, but these still need to be configured correctly and use properly aligned keywords to have any SEO benefit.

WordPress can be a great option for your site, but there are also risks associated with it. For some, it’s the wrong choice – here’s why.

Security and WordPress

The fact that WordPress is Open Source leaves it vulnerable to online attacks. There have been many instances where WordPress sites across the internet have been taken down en masse through the discovery of one weakness. It’s key to consistently keep your WordPress updated to the most recent version to protect it from all known vulnerabilities.

Support

WordPress is a collaborative effort – developers across the world have created plugins and themes for the platform. Not all of these are regularly updated, or even offer any kind of support. When choosing a plugin or theme, it’s best to search for one with support available.

WordPress Spam

By default, WordPress allows registered users to comment on blog posts. This creates an easy way for others to post links to their own websites, making your website a magnet for spam, link-requests and trackbacks. Comment systems must be manually removed, or constantly moderated to keep them clean and secure.

Code bloating

As WordPress sites often begin without any special functionality, it’s not uncommon to have ten or twenty plugins attached to a site in order to have forms, live chats, ecommerce capabilities, and more. Unless carefully planned, this amount of code can slow a website to detrimental levels. Search Engines can penalise sites that take too long to load resulting in low rankings.

SEO issues

Yes, Search engine love WordPress, that much we know is true. But we also know that WordPress easily creates duplicate content issues which Search Engines loathe. The tagging and category system in WordPress which creates so much SEO value can also create some major indexing problems, a confusing site map and pages which have almost no content which will pull down your Search Engine rankings.

WordPress is a great platform for launching high-quality websites, but like any website software the platform has both advantages and disadvantages.if you are looking for answers around WordPress, Bespoke CMS and scalable enterprise Content Management Systems, call us on 01604 59 89 99 – wed be happy to help.

Google Grants is a resource used by over 35,000 non-profits who depend on the grants offered to raise money, bring in volunteers, and spread the message across the internet.   

As of the beginning of 2018, the way that Google Grants works has changed. Previously, there were no limitations to charities using this resource, and the only way that an account would be removed was if it breached the Adwords ToS. Now, Google is adding restrictions to Google Grants accounts that may result in many accounts being closed down.

These changes create goals for accounts to ensure they are performing well. If an account doesn’t achieve a CTR of over 5% on their keywords and phrases for two months, the account will be closed. This isn’t an unreasonable goal, but may results in many closures as charities without experience try to raise their CTR by the end of February.

There are also limitations on the kinds of keywords available to nonprofits. Broad or single-term keywords are no longer allowed, with a small list of exceptions. Keywords must now have a quality score of 3 or more, and use geotargeting to ensure a more qualified audience.

What’s more, campaigns must have a minimum of two ad groups, with at least two ads running at a time. It’s also mandatory to have sitelink extensions active. It seems that Google is trying to make sure that all Adwords accounts are run in a way that brings successful results, and will remove ones that don’t return these.   

It’s not all bad news, however. To counteract the effects of these changes, Google has lifted the $2 bid cap, which used to make it difficult to spend the full $10,000 of grant each month. This will enable charities to have access to some keywords that were entirely out of reach before.

As these changes were made on January 1st, with only 17 days of notice, many charities are beginning the year at a disadvantage. They’re now working with keywords that are no longer profitable and a decreasing CTR as a result, with the new consequences of this on the horizon.

With knowledge of Google AdWords, these changes should be nothing to worry about. However, it’s important to understand and adapt to these changes to avoid an account closure.

For help with your Google Grants account, contact us today. We’ll perform a full healthcheck free of charge, to make sure that your account will stay profitable and effective in the months to come.

 

2017 was a great year for the world of technology – we’ve seen some incredible advancements across many industries. At Zinc, we believe that the best way to be able to predict the future is to be a part of the innovation. It’s been an eventful year for us here – here are some of the things we’ve learned.

 

Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Assistants

Siri or Cortana has been a part of our lives for years, but in the last twelve months there have been more sales of virtual assistants than ever before. With the Amazon Echo and Alexa leading the market, 2018 is already set to be a year of incredible advancement in this area. Designs will begin to incorporate AI as standard, humanising the machinery around us.

When it comes to businesses, these virtual assistants are already making themselves invaluable. Consumers will begin to expect the same level of intelligence from businesses as they can access at home. Financial services already use virtual assistants to offer wealth management advice, with Gartner predicting that these chatbots will handle 85% of customer service interactions by the year 2020. For technology-based products or services, customer support, configurations, and the management of millions of systems could all become an entirely virtual area.

 

The Internet of Things

It’s not just our phones that are smart now; everything from our watches to our refrigerators can connect to the internet. Businesses now have the opportunity to monitor their products in an entirely different way. Devices can report on their own environment, such as temperature, usage, and location, providing vital data.

With this information, productivity can be increased whilst cutting costs substantially. Shelves can re-order stock when they’re running low, windows know when they need cleaning, and machines can self-diagnose issues, which leaves your employees to focus on more important tasks. 2018 will surely see our daily lives connecting in increasingly innovative ways.  

 

How We Use Data

For as long as the internet has been a part of daily life, our every interaction has contributed to the wealth of data that’s collated about how we use the net. By 2018, it’s no longer news that this data is incredibly valuable.

Collecting information will only become a higher priority, and will be used to fuel innovation. It’s now possible to collect data through AI on how we search and what users need in order to to predict their future wants. The possibilities on the horizon regarding predictive algorithms and machine learning are incredibly exciting.

Nevertheless, the way we use data in 2018 is going to change. The oncoming regulation change, GDPR, is going to force businesses across Europe to adapt and alter everything they do with the data they collect.

 

Blockchain

Blockchain gained its renown as the system supporting Bitcoin. It is, at its core, an electronic ledger that efficiently shares information between both open and private networks. Every action is documented in an unchangeable record that is linked to a specific participant. Updates are by consensus of all participants, and cannot be erased, making a secure chain of information. This technology can be used for financial transactions, but can be adapted to transfer any digital data securely.

Currently, Blockchain makes it essentially impossible to forge a transaction or scam a customer. It’s the most secure way to send information today. It is for this reason that it’s already becoming a staple in the FinTech world – MasterCard is launching a service to increase the speed of international transactions, and JP Morgan uses one the largest blockchain payment networks to date.

Blockchain offers an opportunity to businesses in all industries. Everything from FinTech to healthcare, to local authorities, could benefit from this development.

 

As a company, we’re already in some exciting discussions that are on the forefront of some of 2018’s newest developments. We can’t wait to see what’s in store this year.

For innovative technology ideas that could transform your company, from apps to AI, get in touch with us today.

 

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