Overview

We offer a comprehensive set of services for your digital marketing needs. The way people experience a brand is becoming increasingly fragmented, but website still plays the central role with social media, email, video, SEO/SEM, display ads, affiliate programs, and content marketing all converging on it. Here is a typical way that people experience a brand today.

As website being a central, organizing medium, our work begins with setting up the marketing ecosystem around it. It needs to integrate an ever-growing number of touchpoints so that they can all be aligned to the same goal. Before any marketing campaigns can be launched, we need to set up the connections between these technical components. If you need a new website, we can design and build it for you. Otherwise, we can work with your existing site to set up your marketing ecosystem.

Social Media Marketing

Online conversations have moved from blog comments and discussion forum to social media. This shift is very apparent if you have ever had your own blog. Not many people talk on websites these days because they have moved their conversations to social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If your business has a significant word-of-mouth component, you have to go where people are talking.

Another advantage of social media is that it’s still relatively new, so people have not become numb to advertising yet. The ads on social media work better than traditional web banner ads. For this reason, it’s also worthwhile to investigate even newer social networks, like Snapchat. The impact of your investment might be significantly greater as there are less competitors vying for attention.

There are two aspects to social media marketing: user engagement and advertising.

To engage users, you must continually generate content that they find useful or valuable. It requires you to post regularly, and interact with the users on the platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The biggest challenge is at the very beginning where you have zero posts and followers. Finding the right tone and voice is an uncomfortable process for many business owners, particularly for those who are not personally expressive in written forms. If they hire writers to get their social media channels started, they become paranoid about what they might say on their behalf. This sensitivity of the owners would in turn force the writers to play safe, and say only generic and innocuous things. This fear pretty much guarantees failure because there would be no differentiating qualities in the sea of sameness. For this reason, we recommend that stakeholders get intimately involved in developing the social media content at the beginning. Once the right tone and voice are established, it becomes much easier for other contributors to emulate those characteristics.

The other aspect of social media is advertising. Facebook in particular is a powerful advertising platform that allows you to narrowly target a specific demographic (age, gender, city/state, and interest) based on the accurate data that users themselves supply. Because Facebook is an interactive platform, the data you get back from running a campaign is rich and useful. (Google's advertising platform cannot provide this since people do not interact with banner ads except to click.) Even if you are not interested in advertising, Facebook's advertising platform can be used as a market research tool.

Facebook also allows you to “retarget” annonymous people who visited your website. If you install “Facebook Pixel” (a code snippet) on your website, Facebook will create an audience that you can display your ads to. You still wouldn’t know who they are individually but your ads can reach them because Facebook knows who they are.

It is possible to do only one or the other (user engagement or advertising). It is not necessary to do both. User engagement requires a longer process and commitment before you can benefit from it.

Content Marketing / SEO

There are two aspects to search engine optimization: technical implementation and content generation. The first part is getting your site technically up-to-date with what Google recommends so that your ranking would be fair and accurate. It includes creating sitemap.xml, registering with Google Webmaster Tools, making sure every page has an appropriate title set, important words appear towards the top of the page and are used in headings, in bold, or linked, avoiding duplicate contents, etc.. These are already included in our basic package of website development.

If you would like to push beyond the basics, and employ SEO as an active part of your marketing strategy, we need to focus on generating quality content consistently over time which is designed for the purpose of drawing visitors from search engines, and ranking higher for certain key search terms. These days, this particular strategy is known as “content marketing”, not SEO. The traditional SEO was about reverse-engineering Google’s search algorithms, and gaming the system. This practice has become less popular as Google’s algorithms have evolved rapidly, forcing many SEO specialists to give up.

Content marketing is not a once-and-done strategy. It takes a significant amount of time to see any results. The key is to consistently generate quality content and letting others know about it. Content marketing is one of the most commonly used strategy today. Since most of us have become so good at ignoring advertising, and also because we can “pull” whatever information we need when we want it, pushing information as in advertising has stopped working as a marketing strategy. We need to focus on generating quality content that our audience would want to read, and let them come to us, instead of pushing it to them.

Email Marketing

According to McKinsey, “E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.” Here, we are not talking about sending spam, unsolicited emails. Email marketing strategy involves encouraging people to leave their email addresses if they find what you are doing interesting. A surprising number of people do, but if you do not even have a form where they can leave their email addresses, you would never be able to reach them even if they are interested in hearing from you.

This form is different from a contact form. Most people who are interested in you do not have any specific question to ask but are interested in hearing from you as a way to remind themselves. If the only form you have is for asking questions, then these people are not going to fill it out. If they do not leave their email addresses, chances are, they will forget about you and never come back to the site. So, email address becomes the only way for you to keep the connection alive.

There are many email marketing tools available. One of them is MailChimp. You can seed the contact database with the email addresses of your friends and colleagues, then add a simple form (just one field for email address) for your website visitors.

Again, for email marketing to be effective, you need to have a plan. You need to commit to sending email newsletters at a certain interval. You should not send one every week, but somewhere between once a month and once in three months would be ideal. The idea is to keep your organization fresh on their minds so that any opportunities arise, your name will pop up in their heads.

Website / Mini-site / Landing Page

All of your marketing efforts must convert to something in the end (purchase, subscribers, registrations, followers, app installs, etc.). This conversion cannot happen on the marketing channels you use; it must happen on your website. Simply sending a lot of visitors to your site would not benefit you. We can help you build a site or landing pages that provide seamless and painless experience for the visitors, so that we can convert as many of them as possible.

User-Interface / Information Design

There are many different kinds of chairs, and each has its own specific goal. Some are designed for desk work. Some are designed for relaxation. Some are for transportation. Likewise, a website too needs to be designed for a specific goal in mind.

A common mistake many clients make is to focus on what they want to communicate, instead of thinking about what their audience would want to know in order for them to achieve their goals on the site. The trick isn’t to simply reduce the amount of information presented but to prioritize the different pieces. From the point of view of getting traffic from search engines—i.e. for people to find your website in the first place—the more content you have, the better. But the information needs to be prioritized so that once they are on the site, they notice only the relevant pieces of information.

This is the first step in developing your website, and the process involves sketching the hierarchy of information and the placement of user-interface elements in a rough format called “wireframes”.

Graphic Design

There are now numerous web design templates available, but they do not solve the fundamental problem of design: visual harmony. Graphic design is like jigsaw puzzle; each piece is not interchangeable, although it would certainly be very convenient if it were. Once change can trigger a chain of imbalances. Using a great template can not guarantee that your site would look good, anymore than always buying brand name clothes can. A template is merely a starting point of design. And, to maintain the visual integrity, new pieces of content must also conform to the overall direction of the design.

What further complicates graphic design for the web is that it needs to work for screens of any sizes and dimensions. With the popularity of smartphones, more and more people are visiting websites on small screens. Furthermore, now there are a variety of screen sizes between large desktop monitors and smartphones, both vertical and horizontal. This means that designing two versions, desktop and smartphone, is no longer enough. The current solution to address this problem is called “responsive design” where the design continuously transforms and adapts to any screen sizes and dimensions.

The graphic design phase comes after the wireframes are finalized. The process involves iterating the design using visual mockups of a few key web pages. The mockups are not interactive. They are strictly for evaluating and choosing the visual direction of the site.

Engineering

As a client, this is a boring part. You just want it to work. Although we are proud of what we can deliver and would love to be recognized for it, we won’t bother you with the details. All you need to know is that, for a general marketing site, WordPress is currently the de facto standard, and is what we would use for your site unless you have some unique feature requirements. For more details on website development, please see this page.

The engineering phase starts after the graphic design phase is finalized. This part is mostly on us. You wouldn’t hear much from us during this period.

Application Development

Do you have an internal database that you want to be able to access from anywhere? Can't find the right app because you have a unique way of managing your business? You want to create a quiz, game or widget to promote your business? A custom application can be a powerful tool to cut cost, a differentiator in a crowded market, or a catalyst for online collaboration.

A common way to build a proprietary application these days is to have all of your business logic on a Web server and expose them through the “API” (application programming interface). This way, you can have a variety of user-facing applications (Web, iOS, Android, etc..) without rewriting the business logic for each.

We can manage the entire application development process for you from conceiving, designing, programming, testing, hosting, launching, to marketing.

Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimization

There is only so much that we can predict about the behavior of website visitors. We would design the site according to what we know as the best practices, but if you want to continually improve the metrics you are tracking (e.g. donations, job inquiries, time spent on the site, email newsletter signups, Facebook Likes, Twitter followers, number of articles shared, etc..), we need to continually experiment with different designs and measure the effectiveness by using methods like A/B testing where we randomly serve different versions of a web page.

Branding

The logos of Apple and Nike, if you didn’t know anything about these companies, would not impress you. There is nothing extraordinary about those shapes. We now feel that they are great logos because we project great things that they have achieved.

Choosing typefaces and colors seems like a trivial task but their subliminal impact is significant. What makes the public transportation systems of different countries distinct are their choices of typefaces and colors.

Branding is worth investing in if interfacing with the public is important for your organization. We can explore different logo, color, and typeface variations and present them to you to choose from.

Copywriting

Many clients underestimate the amount of effort it takes to organize and create the content for websites. For this reason, we advise against writing your own content. Hiring a writer is the best way to guarantee that the job will get done in time. It is a good idea even if you are a good writer yourself because it is hard to see yourself objectively. What is obvious to you isn’t always obvious to others. Writing about yourself is a bit like trying to cut your own hair.

Photography

If there are any need for photographing your work environment or your staff, we would need to arrange a photographer. At the minimum, a typical photographer would require one day of shoot and another day of post-processing the photos.

For stock photography, roughly $100 should be budgeted for each royalty-free photo.

Video / Animation

One of our partners is an expert in video production, and he manages a separate company, KSK:STUDIOS.

Some services and products are too complex for the average audience to understand. Videos can be effective in overcoming this problem.

Videos are also effective in getting people excited about what your organization does. For instance, it can be used to impress potential clients, investors or donors to get the conversation started.

Content Management Services

Some clients prefer to update their websites on their own, but many want them updated for them as they do not feel comfortable with the process. This is particularly true if the content includes images or attachments (e.g. PDF). Properly processing and formatting them can indeed be challenging. If you would rather have us update the content, you can email us the materials; we can process them for you.

Cycle Advisory

We also offer a subscription-based advisory service. For details, please see this page.

Thank You

If you have any questions, please email us. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Dyske Suematsu

CYCLE Interactive LLC
504 Grand Street, B61
New York, NY 10002
212.982.6028
dyske@cycleia.com