You are currently browsing the archives for the ecommerce category

6 Marketing Questions to Ask Yourself:

What are you saying? After branding, a user-friendly interactive website is likely one of the most important tools that you need for your business or organization. Your online messages including Social Media postings, along with cohesive marketing collateral, make a big difference for increasing your business. To help you get started in the thought process, here are 6 Marketing Questions you should ask yourself:

1. If I’ve never heard of my business, is it absolutely clear ‘WHAT IT IS?’ that I do?
2. Do my messages immediately identify the ‘WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?’ question?
3. Am I consistent in my branding across ALL print, logo, tagline, ad, POP item, website and Social Media?
4. Do I have a UNIQUE printed piece that I could give to my clients that encourage repeat business?
5. Does everything I do include my website ADDRESS?

6. Most important of all? Do I tell people what it is that I want them to do? Everything needs a CTA (Call to Action) Read about CTA’s here >

A special thank you!

We thought we would take a moment to show our appreciation to you, our clients. To us, it’s all about relationships. Thank you for including Engine Communications in your marketing success.

Here’s to a great Fall season! Need Help? We’re here for you. Let’s Chat!

~ Your Engine Communications Team


Want the Best Website?

Start With the Answer!

It’s not about you. People are so busy today, they’re either surfing the net or have landed on your #website via #Search Engines or connection recommendations because they’re looking for answers to their questions or problems.

It may be to learn, for entertainment, to connect, to increase their business or to find help for themselves, family or friends, but basically they’re looking for answers. They’re looking for content that provides VALUE, solving their needs, essentially answering the question:

‘What’s in it for me?’
People are too busy today, have too many choices and things to do. You have 3-5 seconds for users to decide if they are in fact on the right website, the best solution that answers their quest. So, your site better give them what they want, NOW.

Who Are They?
When you start with the answer, make sure you’re addressing the right people. No matter how big or small your business or organization is, the truth of the matter is that you are ‘speaking’ with ONE person when they’re on your website. It’s just one person and their computer or other electronic device.

That one person may indeed be and likely is, part of a larger group, whether it’s business or personal connections. The one thing you can be sure of, is, when you’ve answered their questions properly, they will let others know.

Who might they be?
This is where you must know the answer to ‘Who is my target market and demographic anyway?’.  Knowing who you’re ‘talking to’, helps you to make sure you answer the right questions, for the right people.

Content, design, navigation and functionality. A website strategist plans what your website will DO for users, long before the pretty colours and pictures are in place.

When we know what your website will DO for people, the answers come, in turn, answering the ‘What’s in it for me? question. This in then translated into the website structure for navigation, functionality and ultimately, the look and feel of the design.


One of the biggest mistakes made on websites is the failure to tell people what you want them to do with the information that you are providing. Tell them with  ‘Call to Action’ text, images, navigation and buttons.

Think About It
Here’s some questions to help you to get started with the answers:

1. What makes me so great?
This is where you turn your features and benefits into the answer to their problems. What’s your USP (unique selling point)?

2. What are my readers really looking for?
Solve their problems. Know your target market, learn their needs and give them what they want.

3. What action do I want users to take?
Do you want them to sign up, buy now, read on, learn more, contact someone, share with friends or comment? Tell them!

4. Do they need the whole enchilada?
You’ve heard the saying less is more? Way to often, websites have so much text, content, generally speaking, that it actually drives people away from websites. How much ‘So, who cares?’ info do you have on your site?

Grab users with content that matters to them. Show them you ARE the answer. You will be rewarded in spades.
Discover Engine Communications online and offline marketing solutions here. 

Gift Cards a Win for Non-Profits!

It’s funny how one idea leads into another. Being in the creative field, that’s often how it works. We brainstorm, research and throw ideas around all the time. Sometimes we begin leaning towards one direction, but then, more ideas come to mind that lead is into another. The end result is a culmination of all of our wacky, and at times, pretty clever thoughts and ideas.

That’s how we ended up with the idea of helping local community agencies.

While creating business Christmas gift certificates for our marketing services, we were going through the details on what could be done and how it should be redeemed, and all of a sudden, we realized that non-profits could use some help too.

And so, the birth of the gift card for non-profits came to fruition. While this is late in the season, we decided to go ahead anyway, with the aim of expanding the concept further in the future.

Then we thought, ‘Hey we would like to help too!’ Why not create a contest for the agency that receives the most donations in gift cards? We looked in our pocketbook and our production schedule and decided that we could donate $5000 worth of free services to the winner.

So, if you’re looking for a new idea for giving this Christmas, something that counts to make a difference in your community, you can now give the gift of professional marketing, consulting and creative campaigns to your favourite local charity or not-for-profit organization!

Contest closes January 31st, 2012. We hope you can participate, spread the word and we certainly also hope you like the idea. Wonder what we’ll think of next!

Gift Card for Marketing
Click here to check it out>

Listening to Your Competition

Do you ever feel like everywhere you look, competitors are saying the exact same things in their advertising? There are merits to knowing what your competition is doing, in any industry it is crucial to know what is out there and make sure that you are offering a competitive product or service at competitive rates. What most people do not realize is that focusing too much on your competition can actually cripple your businesses and accomplish the opposite of what you are trying to do.

What happens all too often, especially in smaller cities, is that people have a tendency to copy. I’m not saying that they go out there with the intention of mimicking, but they become so focused on what others are doing that they forget to innovate.

I was reminded of this concept when I went to the store to compare tablets, the iPad 2, Blackberry Playbook and others. What became apparent the more I looked and researched was that Apple was focused on their business, on being the best they could be. While it seems everyone else is simply try to keep up with competition.

Makes me wonder, what could we accomplish if everyone stopped trying to be like everyone else, and just focused on being the best they could be. Now that gives you something to market!

Brand that Facebook Page!

Recently I read an article from Techipedia about “Building the Perfect Facebook Page for 2011.” This article breaks down and simplifies the page layout. It is a great resource for companies, small businesses and not-for-profits.

Normally, the a page looks like an extension of Facebook with your logo on it; however, customizing your page will easily create brand awareness and continuity. Many people realize the importance of a great looking website, but underestimate the importance of a great looking fan page.

Having an underwhelming fan page will get you an underwhelming response. Companies such as Pepsi, Red Bull, and McDonald’s realize the potential opportunity and have created a page that is consistent with their image and looks fantastic.

Creating a branded, stylistic Facebook page will entice customers to check out your company. You will get your message out, not Facebook’s. Talk with us today and we can help your brand successfully use Facebook Pages.

How to Design Your Website for 2011 and Beyond

The web is an ever-changing symphony of technologies and trends, that when blended together in harmony, produce great experiences in the form of those websites that populate our bookmarks list and the links we share with our friends. This past year (2010) brought us the promise of a paradigm shift and laid the foundation for some major changes to the way we think about web design. For the first time in the history of the web, we have to assume that any content must be accessible from devices other than computers and intentionally plan for mobile devices.

Shifting our thought from designing a separate website for mobile devices to designing mobile devices for the web, has allowed us to create new technologies like geolocation to tailor web content to your geographic location automatically (Foursquare and Facebook Places use this). There has also been a sharp decline in the use of Adobe’s proprietary Flash plugin to display essential content or navigation because it has been handicapped by a severe lack of support in the mobile marketplace.

So what lies ahead on this continuing evolution of web design, and how can we plan to design our sites with 2011 (and 2015) in mind? Here are a few trends I see in the near future that are mostly simple design choices within the reach of any new website, that will make your site a trendsetter.

Design With Mobile Devices in Mind

We’ve experienced an almost unbelievable explosion in the use of mobile devices for browsing the web with smartphones, but with the introduction of tablet computing into the mainstream last year with the iPad and many competitors soon to be on the market. We know this is only the tip of the iceberg, so how can we design with mobile touchscreen devices in mind?

Don’t rely on mouseovers for essential content, like navigation
Touchscreen devices have two states: touching, or not touching. There’s no ‘hovering’ with a touchscreen, so interactive elements that rely on a mouse hovering over a link (a rollover) simply won’t work on a touchscreen. The good news is that almost any rollover can be converted to a click toggle instead just by making a few minor alterations to code.

You should steer away from relying on rollovers for navigation or displaying your information, but having rollovers for animations or effects is still okay as long as you assume no touchscreen users will be able to see these effects and they don’t alter their ability to navigate the site.

Make your design narrow
Many sites suffer from being too wide to be comfortably readable. The line-length of text that works best for legibility is somewhere between thirty-five and one hundred letters long. Anything longer is simply a chore to read, and anything under thirty-five letters wide causes eye strain. Try building your site to fit within 960 pixels wide, think of the width of a sheet of Letter-sized paper. Remember you can scroll up and down a website all you want, but the wider the design is the hard it will become to navigate. Both mobile and desktop users can also see a narrow website equally well.

Dont rely on Flash so long as it can be avoided
Flash is a proprietary plugin made by Adobe, and because of this there is support only on the operating systems which Adobe chooses to plugins for, and with varying levels of support at that. There is no Flash plugin for most mobile platforms and even when Adobe has created a plugin, there have been many issues with running Flash on mobile touchscreen devices because most Flash designs cannot capture the multiple pointers simultaneously which breaks the multitouch gestures used on touchscreen devices.

Keep in mind that a phone or tablet has only a fraction of the computing power of your computer and can’t handle the complex animations that your computer can even if it happens to have Flash. With this in mind, most uses of Flash aimed at mobile markets should be lightweight, and almost everything that can be done in Flash that is lightweight can also easily be achieved without using Flash and simply using standard web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript that almost all mobile devices (as well as computers) already have. Designing interactive elements in standard web technologies lets you display your content without plugins and without breaking the multitouch gestures you use to navigate touchscreen devices.

Use Minimalist Design to Communicate Better

Use bold photography
A coming trend for web design is featuring bold photography, even as large as a site background. If a picture is worth a thousand words then why not make those pictures speak the best of you and your brand? A poor photo takes the same amount of resources to view on your site as a great photo, but a poor photo can hurt your brand. A wise idea if you haven’t done it already, is to have professional-quality photos taken of your product/location/people. These will come in handy for any current or future web and print design project you might want.

Use a limited colour palette
We have the ability to use millions of colours on the web, but more isn’t always better. Picking two or three well-chosen colours that coincide with your branding will really help set you apart from other websites, and make a memorable impression on your readers. A simple layout and limited colour palette will clearly define your brand and help unify the tone of your content.

Use typography artistically
Until recently websites were limited to displaying content in the fonts installed on each readers own computer. Since OS X, Linux, and Windows all come with different fonts pre-installed, there were only a handful of fonts in common between all computers that you could use with the confidence that it would show up the same universally.

Lately, new technologies have allowed designers to use any font they wish on their website, whether the readers have it installed on their own computers or not. Starting today, we will see an explosion of the use of creative typography on the web, and a much more mature feel to web design in general.

Use Playful Design to Connect With Your Reader

Memorable domain names are better than shorter domains
Having a domain that is easy to remember and say over the phone to a friend is far better than a brief domain that is easily forgotten or hard to communicate to others. Saying is easier than

Don’t be afraid to be whimsical with your content
The web is different than print or radio, and the attitude is much more personal and playful. Try writing your web content like a conversation instead of a loan application. A little playfulness and whimsy goes a long way to making reader feel connected to you and your brand.

Try saying “Thanks for sending us a message” instead of “Form submitted successfully”, or “Nothing makes us happier than hearing from you, if you want to get in touch with us please fill out the form below” instead of “Contact form below, fields containing an ‘*’ are required”

Final Thought

The number one business trend according to a number of successful web entrepreneurs, is hand-written thank-you notes sent by mail. Don’t forget that the best advocate for your brand is you, and the time you take to connect with your readers. If mailing personal thank-you’s is out of reach for you, a heartfelt and grateful email can help build friendship and loyalty between you and your readers too.

Best of luck to you this coming year from Engine Communications!

Merry Christmas

We will be closed December 23rd, 2010 at 5:00pm – January 4th, 2011 at 9:00am. Enjoy the Holiday!

Pay with your phone

In some cites you no longer need to purchase tokens or a metro pass for public transportation. Visa has teamed up with Apple and Blackberry to create an application that will charge transit fares to your Visa by simply waving the enabled smart phone in front of a reader. The idea behind this is to creates faster movement through some of the worlds busiest transit terminals, and also be more convenient for the customer. This means no more line ups to buy tokens or tickets. Currently in North America it is being tested in New York City. I have no doubt that this trial will be a success. It really only takes one visit to New York’s Port Authority during rush hour to see that anything that could possibly speed up the process would be a welcomed change.

For more details check out this article.

– Sandra

Square: bringing us closer to a cashless society.

Okay, so honestly how many people really carry cash on them anymore? I mean sure, we all keep maybe twenty bucks on us for coffee, parking or to pay back a friend for lunch, but do we really pay for most things with cash? Of course not! We have become so accustomed to the convenience of the swipe-and-go world we live in. We pay at the pump, auto-charge bills to our credit cards online, and I know everyone of us has swiped a credit card for something under 2 dollars at least once! In 2008 VISA alone reported $90.2 Trillion dollars of spending worldwide.
We are almost a cashless society, except when we are paying other people back for things. Usually we have to run to the ATM and get cash. Thanks to the development of Square last year, all of that is about to change.

Square was first announced in late 2009 but as of last month it is has been released to the public and is fully available to all consumers. (within the US)

It is official, now debit and credit transactions are easily accessible to everyone right from their android-powered phone, iphone, or ipad. Within seconds you can turn any of them into a cash register. Cash can be exchanged with any individual, right from your phone. This is an application that is targeted to individuals and small businesses more so than large corporations. All you need to do is download the Square application, plug a small device into your headphone jack that reads the magnetic strip on a debit or credit card, and you are ready to go. The phone acts as a credit terminal, sends an email copy of the receipt to the buyer, and logs the transactions for the seller on their phone. Along with all of this Square also maps out the location of the transaction. The possibilities of this type of technology are really endless.

After I get over imagining the endless possibilities, my first thought is, how do I know what other people are doing on their phones. It seems like this concept is amazing, but perhaps needs more development to really be a practical way to exchange money with strangers on a day-to-day basis. How hard would it be for someone to figure out how to copy my debit or credit information right onto their personal phone.

There is also a lot of concern that this application will be highly attractive to people who are unable to get standard business accounts because of a bad credit history or fraud.

I am not sure what to think about the security risks, but I do think square is a great development that we will see becoming more and more common in the near future. In the mean time I think there are a lot of security kinks to be worked out.

Check out the promo video for Square

— Sandra