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A (Gentle) Crash-Course on Empathy Mapping

A (Gentle) Crash-Course on Empathy Mapping

If you want to create a positive experience for your users, it’s absolutely essential that you understand their needs and feelings. If you’re not taking into account the humanity of your users, you’re doing it wrong. A process called “empathy mapping” can help you get into their heads and hearts to find out what makes your users tick. Here we cover what empathy maps are, where they fit into the overall UX design process, and most importantly, how to create them.

Your users’ needs and feelings: why they matter

It doesn’t require a Ph.D. in psychology to know that your users are driven by a complex of conscious and unconscious motivations. Furthermore, their thoughts and feelings do not fit neatly into a linear format. Your users are not just happy or sad when they first encounter your site/app/product, but confident or fearful, hopeful or suspicious, and so on, often embodying many of these internal states at the same time. So the challenge becomes how to visualize this psychological complexity without losing sight of the unity of your user. Enter empathy maps.

Empathy maps

What they are

Empathy maps are visualizations of the likely feelings, thoughts, actions, influences, environmental factors, pain-points and goals of your users. A general empathy map captures the internal landscape of your users or customers as a whole, but you can also create a series of specific empathy maps to capture particular user or customer segments.

When they’re most helpful

In short, at the beginning. Of course, you can’t create an empathy map until you know something about your users. So you’ll have to wait until after the initial user research stage. But once you’ve done your research and started working on user personas and stories, the time is ripe to try out a few empathy maps with your team.

How to create them

Empathy maps require little to no design skill (evinced by that drawing at the top of the post). Otherwise, following the classic approach, draw something resembling a face (perhaps a smiley if you’re at a total loss for inspiration) in the center of a large whiteboard. Use four diagonal lines radiating out from the face to divide the whiteboard into four equal areas, positioned above, below, to the right and to the left of the face. Although you can come up with your own labels, the area above the face often gets the label THINK and FEEL the area below SAY and DO, the area to the left HEAR, and the area to the right SEE. Many teams also add a PAIN area in the lower left and a GAIN area in the lower right in order to add another useful dimension to their empathy maps.

Roughly speaking, these labels are shorthand for various aspects of a user’s psychological landscape with respect to your site or app:

  • Think and feel = What the user is consciously experiencing and pondering when encountering your site or app.
  • Say and do = The users routines, habits, and activities as they relate to your offering.
  • See = The user’s general environment, including friends, coworkers, the marketplace, distractions competing for their attention, etc.
  • Hear = Statements “in the air” influencing the user.
  • Pain = Pain-points, obstacles, or challenges the user faces.
  • Gain = The user’s goals.

With this basic template in place, give each team member a stack of sticky notes and ask them to write down whatever comes to mind when they consider the various aspects of the user’s experience (represented by the labeled areas on the empathy map). For example, suppose you’re building a site for buying wholesale clothing online. In the THINK and FEEL area you might have sticky notes that read something like:

  • I’ve never heard of this site, can I trust it?
  • Buying clothes without trying them on first makes me nervous.
  • I hope they have the jeans I’m looking for.
  • Their sizes better be accurate.
  • If they don’t fit, is there an easy refund/exchange policy?
  • Free shipping?

In the SAY and DO area you might have sticky notes that read something like:

  • I’m a bargain shopper.
  • I’m willing to hunt for good deals.
  • I buy direct whenever I can.
  • I tell all my friends when I find a scorching deal.

And so on…

After placing all of the sticky notes in their corresponding areas, the empathy map is complete. You now have a rough-at-the-edges, appropriately messy, yet holistic depiction of your user’s inner world as they come face to face with your site or app for the first time.

How do you feel about empathy maps?

Understanding your users’ needs and feelings is essential to creating a positive experience for them. This is where empathy maps shine. They give your team an opportunity to creatively visualize your users from the inside-out. Generally coming immediately after the user-research stage of the UX design process, empathy maps make great complements to personas and user stories. Their flexible, organic, participatory format also make empathy maps easy to quickly create and re-create with the whole team. At its best, the process of populating an empathy map is like an inverted brainstorming session, where the ideas are not yours, but ultimately those of your future users. And their true motivations, if accurately uncovered, will help drive your design in the direction it needs to go.

Want to find out more about how empathy maps can help you connect with your users more effectively? Hit us up!

What’s Big in UX Design this Year (So Far)

What’s Big in UX Design this Year (So Far)

If you had a brick-and-mortar store, your first concern is usually stocking the products your customers want. But you’d also want an attractive store so you could showcase those products in the best light. You’d also want to ensure your employees were effectively trained to help your customers find what they want—and you’d want to make sure you didn’t waste your customers’ time with long checkout lines. In other words, your products are important, but so is the experience your customers have buying those products—and that applies whether they’re in a physical store or on your website.

Why User Experience (UX) Matters

In 2017, user experience makes the difference between businesses that win and lose. Say you and your chief competitor offer the same products at the same price. If their website loads faster, your competitor is going to sell more than you. If they personalize the buying process and you don’t, they’ll build trust with customers more than you will.

Consider some of these metrics from Hubspot:

  • 39% of B2B and B2C consumers will abandon a website if images won’t load or take too long to load
  • 38% of people will leave a website if the content/layout is unattractive
  • When people have 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds prefer reading something beautifully designed versus something plain
  • 77% of agencies believe that poor website UX is the number one weakness their clients have

In 2017, user experience matters more than ever, and UX, more than anything else, is what will ensure your business can compete effectively. As UsabilityHub notes:

“UX also continues to be pushed forward by the move towards “experiences” over products. In a more sophisticated market it’s not enough any more to simply have a product. Embracing this thinking enables us to discover new opportunities to empathize, and ultimately improve the experience of users, which will become vital in maintaining a competitive edge in the long run.”

Forward leaning marketers and designers continue to find new ways (and embrace new technologies) to enhance user experience. Here are three big UX trends to watch this year (and beyond):

Chatbots and Voice Commands


Recent advances in smart technology, coupled with enhanced design, have increased the popularity of chatbots and voice commands—hence the emergence of virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana, and the widespread adoption of home interface products like Amazon Alexa. That same technology and design smarts is making its way into an increasing number of business applications. This doesn’t signal the end of the graphical user interface, but increasingly businesses will embrace these conversational interfaces, and designers will compete to create their most effective use.

Virtual and Augmented Reality Experiences

VR is Real

In July 2016, consumers got their first look at Pokemon GO. There have been Augmented Reality (AR) apps and experienced before, but none of them quite entered the zeitgeist like a game where people walk down the street to capture adorable monsters. At the same time, Virtual Reality (something we really, really like) was gaining traction in industries like tourism, building, education and gaming. Once again, driving the increased popular of VR and AR was technology, in this case, improvements in supporting devices like headsets and enhancements in mobile technology.

AR and VR are still in their early stages as regards user experience, but they did make significant advances in 2017. Expect to see designers finding new ways to engage users and improve usability with AR and VR over the next few years.

(Just a pro-tip, if you get into a convo about VR, make sure you’re actually talking about VR)

Pushing the Envelope on Personalization

While the past several years focused on pushing responsive design to accommodate the many ways people access the internet, the next few will be about creating increasingly personalized interfaces. As businesses become more adept at collecting increasingly granular data about user behavior, they’ll use that information to offer user experiences which conform to their demonstrated preferences. This could mean everything from interfaces which adapt color to accommodate color-blind users (and a host of other accessibility issues) to those which adjust text size or theme preferences based on previous usage.

Conclusion

Increased emphasis on user experience is part of a larger understanding among marketers and website designers that metrics like clicks and conversions are more than data points—they’re real people with real needs. The companies that commit to improving user experience are the ones which will build user trust and grow in influence.

If you want to learn more about how our digital strategy, design, content and code, and user experience services will help you drive sales and grow your business, hit us up.

We Built It: V6 by Vantage Data Centers Web Experience

We Built It: V6 by Vantage Data Centers Web Experience

We’re human. We like to occasionally brag about ourselves–especially when we build something cool. Today, we’re introducing a new regular feature in the Hall of Awesome called “We Built It.” In this and future posts, we’ll examine some of our favorite projects. Today, we’re giving you a glimpse at a recent launch we created for our client, Vantage Data Centers. Vantage was in the process of building a new, state-of-the-art data center facility (called V6) on their campus. They asked Mighty & True to help with the pending launch through the creation of a variety of digital content that would show off just how cool this data center was going to be. Easy peasy.

Our User-Centric Strategy

We knew a unique web experience had to be part of our strategy, but we didn’t want it to be stale. These buyers would require information that would explain the value of the center, but we wanted to get V6 noticed in a new and creative way. Our core idea was to give this new facility its own identity. Having V6 look different in a commoditized space was a tall task, but something that we felt strongly about. To make this happen, we started by looking for inspiration in places you wouldn’t exactly associate with data centers: high-end hotels, spas, condos and modern furniture.

V6 site inspiration
Some sites that inspired our design direction for the new page for Vantage

We looked there simply because we wanted to provide, well, a distinctive brand around the V6 center and its value. This site needed to stand out with its own personality–something that Vantage’s prospective tenants would take notice of. We had an idea for the kind of experience we wanted to build, but before we could even think of design, we had to answer some basic questions:

  • What is the main purpose of the page?
  • How should we organize the content?
  • What are the goals of each individual section, and what messages do we want them to convey?

After talks with the client, we found that one of the page’s main jobs would be to entice prospective tenants to set up a tour of a facility upon completion. Everything that we created around the customer journey would have to support that goal.

We first developed a “content map” to help us get an idea of how each part of the page would do that. This content map isn’t a wireframe. It’s a framework meant to establish a basic structure for the customer journey as well as the different sections’ goals and specific messaging for each. It also helped us wrap our heads around what kind of digital content we had and what new content we needed to create. While there were some tweaks along the way, the basic structure we established for the page in the content map remained constant.

This document was indispensable in helping us organize content and messaging throughout the build.

Thinking About Design

We began this project with a kernel of an idea. Once the structure of the site was, for the most part, locked, we could actually start to think about how this particular site would look and work. We began with simple style tiles to identify the colors and typography that would carry this distinctive V6 feel.

Blue Style Tile with sans-serif font
An example of one the style tiles we developed to guide design. We used a few different color palette and font combinations.

After we settled on the right design approach, we investigated possible interactions that would help tell the story and drive users to want to know more. These included interesting parallax effects, a virtual tour, some sort of map function and a way to display the status of the building’s construction. We created an InVision board to organize some of our favorites.

InVision Board with interactions
We gathered interaction examples from other sites into an InVision mood board.

Once we had a firmer idea of the interactions we planned for the page, we moved to wireframes and design. One of the earliest design decisions we made had to do with the hero image. We wanted a sleek, modern tech feel to the video–something that wouldn’t be out of place in a high-end car ad or a smartphone release. Another neat element we decided on in our initial design discovery phase is the background of the page. If you look, you’ll see that it’s a black background, with a light outline of the actual building blueprint, and it has a slight parallax scroll movement as well. It’s the little touches.

The opening of the final hero video
blueprint background
You can see the very subtle blueprint in the page’s background

Development

If you read our recent post on the all-importance of the design-to-dev hand-off, you know that it’s vital to have all your ducks in a row. When we start development, we like to have wireframes locked down. If you’re at all in a creative field, you know that there are always the inevitable 11th-hour tweaks, but with some preparation, it’s easy to roll with the punches. We had already decided what kind of interactions we wanted on this page, but it was time to finally build them.

It was important to get the specs of V6 very high on the page. The page’s main audience (i.e. people looking for data center space) are typically very technology savvy but want to know some basics quickly. So we wanted one of the first interactions on the page to display the primary differentiators of the center. Getting users to read a lot of information in a way that isn’t obtrusive or deleterious to user experience is a delicate balance. To solve this problem, we decided on a parallax scroll of different “cards” displaying V6’s different features. Here’s one of the sites that inspired us:

This is darn fine use of parallax scrolling

And here’s the V6 scroll:

We found a way to display all of V6’s features in an unobtrusive and interesting way

We also wanted to show users the progress of the build, but we wanted an interaction that was as eye-catching as it was informative, without interrupting the flow of the page. We added a slider that displays the 3D render of the site against a live camera view we used to show the actual status of construction:

Users can slide between the 3D render and the current state of construction

Other Awesome Features

As excited as we were to make something that looks great, we also knew that the site had a job to do: get people to request tours of the facility. To that end, we added virtual content that helped a prospective buyer to actually experience the center before it was even open. If you’ve ever cruised the Hall of Awesome, you know that we’re big fans of VR. We’re always pumped when we get to add VR functionality to a project. For this build, it was a perfect application to pique the interest of prospective tenants. Other additions to the page include a CTA for an informational video on V6, a content offer and, of course, a form to request a tour.

VR Tour of Vantage’s V6

Putting the Cherry on Top

This particular project was one of our favorite recent builds. It gave us a chance to do what we love best: use good user-centric design as an essential demand generation tool. It’s pretty much what we live to do. This build also challenged us to think through how to best balance disruptive design, displaying all the pertinent information and providing a positive user experience. If you’re thinking through similar challenges or want to find out how we can make you look good, drop us a line. We’d love to chat.

Smoothing the Handoff from Design to Dev

Smoothing the Handoff from Design to Dev

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

One of the most critical stages in the process of creating a website, feature or app is the handoff from design to development. If the design team fails to prepare for the handoff correctly, much of the beauty and efficiency of their design can get lost in translation. So let’s take a good look at a few best practices to ensure that developers have everything they need to build what the designers have envisioned.

Use apps to help with the handoff

Here are a few apps that help with one or more aspects of the design-to-dev transition:

Lingo

You might want to consider moving your image files out of their numerous independent folders, where they can get lost, and into Lingo. With this visual library app, you can search, track, organize, browse and above all share your visual assets more efficiently.

InVision’s Inspect

If you’re building a mobile app, Inspect will help you achieve a “pixel-perfect” design handoff for both iOS and Android.

Sympli

This design-handoff tool has plugins for both Sketch and Photoshop. Once enabled, the Sympli plugin will automatically create specs, style guides and visual assets for you to share with the dev team. Sympli also has plugins for Android Studio and Xcode, as well as a standalone web app.

Zeplin

Zeplin is a design sharing tool that streamlines the entire design handoff process. The design teams at Slack, MailChimp, Pinterest, Starbucks and Shopify (just to name a few) all use Zeplin.

Use a version control system

When we think of version control systems, we think of developers and Git. However, version control systems work wonders for designers as well. While designers can also take advantage of Git for their versioning, there are some dedicated design versioning tools, such as the widely used Folio. Whichever versioning platform you choose, don’t skip this key preparatory piece of the design handoff.

Only share the intended design

In the course of creating a site, feature, page or app, you’re bound to try out a slew of alternative approaches. It’s tempting to include those files with the handoff. At the very least, it shows how much thought you’ve put into the process. However, including all those extra files can draw attention away from the intended design and confuse the development team. So unless you’re undecided about the design and specifically want to offer the development team selections to choose from, then it’s best to leave the alternatives and earlier versions out.

Don’t forget secondary pages and screens

Without a meticulous handoff checklist and protocol, the handoff process will certainly have at least a few missing files. These generally won’t be pages and screens that belong to the primary user flow. Rather, they will be subsequent pages/screens such as the “forgot password” page/screen that it’s easy to overlook. All the same, they still need design treatments, and if they don’t make it into the mix, there will be trouble down the road.

Pay close attention to your copy

Be sure to have all of your copy carefully organized along with your screens. Moreover, the dev team needs to know the precise context, situation or trigger that will call for each piece of copy.

Perfecting the handoff

The design handoff is a critical stage in the process of creating a website, feature or app. If the handoff from design to dev gets flubbed, the end-user will never get to experience how beautiful or awesome the product could have been. Here’s the TL:DR version of your design-to-dev handoff best practices:

  • Use apps, like Zeplin, to help with the handoff
  • Use version control software, such as Folio, to keep all your versions in order
  • Only pass on the intended design, not alternatives and earlier versions
  • Don’t forget to include all secondary pages/screens
  • Pay close attention to the copy, as well as the context where each piece of copy will arise. If you’re able to incorporate all of these best practices into your design-to-dev handoff, you’ll begin to approach the ideal workflow.

 

Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve got the whole design and dev thing pretty locked down. If you’re the maker of a technical product or service, get in touch with us to find out how we can increase your visibility and improve your customers’ overall experience with our bold designs and strategies.

Light Field Capture for Awesome VR Experiences

Light Field Capture for Awesome VR Experiences

Different Way of Capturing Images

The light field capture photographic system is something different. When you take a picture with one of these cameras, the camera gets the direction of the light rays as well as the intensity and color of the light. The light sensor records all this information so the exact image can be reproduced when the image is viewed. The camera has an array of many small lenses placed one focal length in front of the camera sensor so that what is eventually captured is an array of stereoscopic images. The first such cameras demonstrated at the Stanford University Graphics Laboratory in 2004 employed 90,000 micro lenses. Using this array means there are no truly unfocussed parts of the image–the focus can be restored for any part of the image when it is viewed.

Five Revolutionary Advances

  1. Light field capture has the same 3D virtual reality capability for real life images as synthetically produced images have had up until now.
  2. The images are recreations of what was really there at the point the images were photographed. Within the space, a viewer can turn and move around while lighting and textures remain consistent.
  3. The light field capture system does not record a large number of complete image graphics. The recording system is based on ideas developed in holographic technology. Instead of images, it stores detailed light-flow information which is later reconstructed and played back. This kind of recording amounts to a compression technique which increases potential storage capability.
  4. The 3D capability of the light field capture is enhanced by the fact that the light information incorporates multiple binocular pairs of potential images.
  5. The light field capture system is sold as a unit including all that is needed to produce a full-hour of 360-degree 3D virtual reality content.

Lytro

“Light field photography is different from traditional photography because the cameras can measure the geometry of the light that strikes the image sensor…with enough computer power, Lytro’s software can then reconstruct the scene that was captured in three dimensions.”

Lytro, a company founded by Ren Ng, a graduate of the Stanford University Graphics Laboratory, developed and marketed

  • The first consumer light field camera is a neo-box camera with 8GB (350 images) or 16 GB (750 images) of built-in memory.
  • The ILLUM, which came out in 2012 has a 30 to 250 mm (35 MM equiv.) f/2 lens. The image stored on the memory card could be refocused on viewing so that any detail can be brought into focus. The Lytro still field cameras never made a substantial impact on the marketplace. The viewing system was too cumbersome for professional photographers. The adjustable focus option was not enough to attract them.
  • The Lytro Immerge was announced in November 2015. This light field capture system was designed as the Future of VR, creating virtual reality (VR) content.

VR Image Cameras

The Lytro Immerge camera entered the market in 2016. It comes as a complete system, providing all the necessary hardware, software and services to capture, process, edit and play back 360 video content. It features a flexible, configurable dense light field camera array as well its own server for storage and processing, an editor system, and a playback engine for VR and other viewing platforms. The Immerge server can store up to one hour of light field capture. The server can process the light field data.

Because all the data about a given “light field” is captured, Immerge allows for virtual 3D views from any point, facing any direction, and with any field of view. Immerse places viewers in the action by replicating natural light flow. It corrects stereo alignment to keep the scenes consistent as viewers move their heads. This potential creates a highly realistic immersive VR experience.

The Lytro Immerge system is described as “a five-ringed globe that captures what Lytro is calling a ‘light-field volume.'” The system consists of layers, each of which fully captures a cubic meter of light rays. The final output yields five cubic meters of space that are fully actualized. The camera captures all the light rays in the volume of light surrounding the camera. The software plays back all the rays at very high frame rates and high-resolution. The viewer can move around the light ray array.

The output of the Immerge system is designed to be compatible with the next generation of VR viewers, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC VIVE, and Sony Play Station VR. It also works with smartphone systems mounted in VR viewers.

The Lytro Cinema promises to take the Immerge model light field cinema camera one step further, correcting some of the artifacts that can be distracting in the Immerge images.

Mighty and True helps companies that make technical products create awesome experiences for customers. If you want to find out how we can help you, feel free to contact us .

3 Ways to Use Spotify’s API to Create Awesome User Experience

3 Ways to Use Spotify’s API to Create Awesome User Experience

In the world of digital music services, Spotify has earned its place as one of the best and most innovative providers in the industry today. We’re pretty big fans of the service ourselves. But did you know that developers and website owners can take advantage of the brains behind Spotify by accessing their freely available application programming interface (API)? Access to the API means that businesses can offer more awesome web applications with enhanced user experiences.

API’s are the future of website and mobile development, opening up new ways for innovation and web experience. Many organizations today integrate multiple API’s into a single application, transforming their businesses without reinventing the wheel.

The Spotify REST API offers a creative way of accessing Spotify data, while providing a rich user interface for users. The API returns data in a JSON format directly from their catalog such as: songs, artists, and albums. JSON is a data format that is not dependent on any scripting language, and is available for integration into many web infrastructure.

The API can also be used to access account data like playlists and music saved on a user’s account; providing access only with a user authorization token.

Adding some sort of music integration to your digital product’s interface or design hits a lot of sweet-spots for us because we’re music geeks and we love rock-solid user experience.  So we’ve come up with three ways you can use to use the Spotify API to create awesome user experiences for your web application:

Host a Spotify contest on your website

Your business model doesn’t even have to be tangentially related to music to run a music contest. As long as you have customers who are music fans, you can run a contest on your web application using the Spotify API. This will give you an opportunity to connect with your customers in more meaningful ways, and let them show off their musical tastes.

You could create a collaborative playlist that lets users suggest songs for your company’s music rotation. A wedding apparel design business could have customers vote on their favorite wedding music. It’s a great way to keep your business on the minds of your customers without using hard-sell methods.

Create a Simple Search Experience

Search function is used by many web applications to create a rich user-experience for website visitors. Even though your customers can go directly to Spotify and do a search on their own, bringing the search option to them means that you can give them a more memorable search experience from within your website. This also means that users can search and create data records on your application directly from the API. This function isn’t only limited to website applications, there are many example mobile applications on GitHub created using the Spotify API.

The search feature can be used to create a favorite list on social applications, or create a playlist on a website and a whole lot more. It’s simple, and your users only have to do a search and save the data to their accounts. The API is designed for remote access, and because it returns data in JSON format, it’s easy to integrate it into different types of applications.

Authentication and Authorization

Retrieving data is one of the common uses of the API. But you can also access user account information, and use it to authenticate users on your platform. Authentication has to be done with care, because once the API retrieves the credentials, your system will have to decrypt and store the data securely. User’s permission is normally required to access and manipulate the data, so developers use OAuth (an open standard for authorization) to get this job done.

Using the Spotify API to Market your brand is an indirect marketing strategy, and gives your brand more exposure by creating an unforgettable user-experience. We can help you do cool stuff like this too! Give us a shout to learn more.

And by the way, here’s a playlist we made full of some of our favorite artists from our hometown of Austin, Texas.

More Content Tips for Music Tech Makers

More Content Tips for Music Tech Makers

Us Mighty & Truers are kind of music geeks. That’s why we’re always up for helping makers of music tech up their marketing game. We recently wrote up a post talking about what kinds of content music tech makers should create. We wanted to do a little bit more on that theme, so enjoy!

For some blogs, content creation is easy as snapping their fingers. The ideas, titles and posts just seem to come together and never stop. However, for music tech creators, it’s not quite as straightforward. Here are four tips to get those creative juices flowing so you can leave consumers and distributors wanting more.

Make your content valuable

This tidbit applies across the board. You won’t draw too many people if you just post about how much you love a certain brand of midi keyboards or random anecdotes from your life. People want to know how this will affect them. They want to know why it should matter, how much it’s going to matter, and finish reading the article with a better understanding than they had before.

For example, let’s say you’ve been wanting to write an article about microphones. A good idea for any music tech enthusiast, yeah, but that’s all it is: an idea. By expanding on it, you can focus your target demographic and appeal to your niche more. For example:

  • “7 Must Have Microphones for Thrash Metal Bands”
  • “The Best Microphones of 2017”
  • “The Technical Differences Between Stage Mics and Voice-Over Mics”
  • “Popular Mic Brands Used by Popular Bands”

The possibilities are endless, but it’s up to you to decide which one will fit your target audience better. Remember, idea<concept<execution, and you can never go wrong.

Be brief, but dense

There are a few good reasons why brevity is the soul of wit, especially when it comes to blogging. For one, you need to take into account the average reader’s attention span. Most web users are just looking for something quick and easy. Something they can skim while they’re on their lunch breaks. That’s why 250 words are considered the standard for content.

This might sound like a let-down if you planned on a 2000 word post on why the Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS is vastly superior to a Blue Yeti microphone, but don’t worry. This actually saves you time, effort, and allows you to spread your content out over time to ensure that you’ll rarely run out of ideas.

Don’t fear the jargon

Chances are you’re not writing for a general audience, so don’t be afraid to you use jargon. If you need to say XLR cables, then say XLR cables. Don’t be afraid that you’ll scare off any new readers because chances are your audience is savvy enough to know what you mean.

But don’t try to stuff jargon and lingo in just to stuff it in. If you do it too often you come across as someone who’s trying to sound like an authority versus someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. Try to keep your language easy and breezy, but don’t be afraid to talk shop.

Experiment!

Content has such a wide definition these days that just about anything could be called content. Twitter post, a witty Facebook meme, or even a picture on Instagram. Whether it’s good content is a different story. Your content style should reflect your blog’s tone, style and intention. But don’t be afraid to experiment from time to time. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Though too much spice can change the overall flavor, so make sure you don’t drive off your readers by changing that flavor.

Consider making video reviews, conducting interviews with leading figures or users of the tech in your category. You could even do some cross-platform promotion to further engage your target audience, and attract the consumers and distributors you’ve wanted for years.

 
If you’re a music tech maker looking to up your marketing game, drop us a line! We’d love to talk some shop.

A Perfect Storm: Four Campaigns that Bridged the Physical and Digital Domains

A Perfect Storm: Four Campaigns that Bridged the Physical and Digital Domains

Consumers get bombarded with advertising constantly. You know those dumb “You’ll never believe what I found . .” or “The most shocking thing ever is . . ” click-baity titles just signal (most) readers to move their eyeballs elsewhere. To break through the noise, you have to do something unique.  Savvy companies take a multifaceted approach that combines the physical and digital–creating a user experience that’s usually downright delightful. Here are four that we dug:

Pin-Ups

Nordstrom knows their audience. They leveraged a huge social following to create physical “content,” and goodwill from their consumers. They reached out to their 4.4 million Pinterest followers and asked them for their favorite products, and how they would like to be displayed in stores. Those consumers wrote back in the thousands. They replied with emails, posts and drawings.

Nordstrom sifted through all the replies to find the best and most inspiring designs. Then they actually implemented those display set-ups in stores. Consumers were able to visit stores and see the results–increasing consumer engagement and, of course, sales.

Fixing a Hole

In Panama, a news station called Telemetro Reporta took an interesting gambit to tackle the country’s pothole problem. They teamed up with Ogilvy & Mather to start a campaign to raise awareness of the issue. They installed small devices in some of the worst potholes, and whenever a car ran over it, the device tweeted directly at the government. The news station showed the tweets on-air, and posted them on its website. The campaign got citizens excited and woke the government to the problem.

Reading Tea Leaves

Honest Tea didn’t just create a marketing campaign, they conducted a bone fide social experiment. The company placed their signature tea bottles in cities around the country, and asked people to deposit a dollar to pay for them with no cashier or employee to oversee the sales. Some expected a disaster, or box of empty bottles and no money. Those people were wrong.

The company placed digital trackers to determine if people actually paid for the bottles of tea. Consumers around the country followed the campaign online to see which cities were the most honest. Atlanta had a 100 percent rate of payment. Indianapolis, San Diego, Philadelphia and Houston also had high rates.

A Bright Idea

Philips ran an interesting marketing campaign that leveraged social influencers. Philips wanted to demonstrate that without light, there is no photography. They reached out to nine Instagrammers with big global followings, and asked them to use the hashtag #LightIsLife. Beautiful, artistic photos came in from all over the globe using the hashtag.

At the company museum in Eindhoven, Philips created an “Instawalk” that only their Instagram followers could access–bridging the social media campaign with a physical museum experience.  The company increased its Instagram and Twitter followers by over 50 percent in just a few months. Just dazzling.

If bridging the digital and physical is something you’d like to dig into, Mighty & True is here for you. We’re a tech-minded experience design agency that incorporates multi-pronged strategy to help clients achieve their sales and marketing goals. Wanna learn more? Give us a shout.

Four Useful Content Types You Should Create as a Music Tech Maker

Four Useful Content Types You Should Create as a Music Tech Maker

You have a sick new piece of gear. Maybe it’s a guitar pedal. Maybe it’s a drum head made from space-age materials or an ultra-sensitive, omni-directional mic made from discarded cicada shells and Italian marble. Whatever it is, you need to get it in front of distributors and consumers. How do you do that?

There’s a simple hack: content marketing. But with so many content options, it can be pretty overwhelming trying to decide where to start or what attracts customers in the space. Some brands aren’t even sure where to start let alone make content marketing work in their digital strategy.

The good news is there are simple, yet highly effective content types that you can begin to focus on to draw likely prospects to your company. We’ve outlined four things that will help get your gear in front of the right folks.

#1 Live-Streaming Videos

Did you know that people spend three times longer watching a live video versus one that’s been pre-recorded? Tools like Facebook Live, Periscope and Instagram Stories are generating crazy engagement on social media. You can use these platforms to draw your audience into your culture and sound, humanizing your brand and making you more relatable.

Live-streaming is a brilliant way to connect with your social followers while increasing brand awareness. Here are a few ways you can begin leveraging this content type for your music tech brand:

  • Take your audience behind-the-scenes in how you put together a product
  • Put on an exclusive “mini-concert” featuring an artist that uses your product.
  • Host Q&A sessions; give prospects and customers an opportunity to ask you questions and receive immediate responses
  • Provide a live demo to give your users and prospects a chance to see what your product can really do

#2 High-Quality Images

Visuals absolutely ROCK (heh, see what we did there?!) on social media. In fact, Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than posts without. Also, articles that have an image once every 75-100 words receive double responses on social media than those lacking visuals. Speaking of which:

Instagram boasts over 600 million active users who are regularly liking, commenting, and reposting visuals on a daily basis.

The point: ramping up your images will get you noticed on social media. Publishing visual content that complements your message enriches your marketing, and keeps followers coming to your page. The beauty about the music tech industry is that there are unlimited opportunities to share photos that showcases your brand culture.

Commit to sharing at least two to five images a day on social media. On sites like Instagram, using hashtags is a must to new followers finding your content. Sites like Top-Hashtag and Hashtagify.me are ideal to finding popular ones in your niche.

#3 YouTube Videos

YouTube is the second largest search engine site. Mobile consumption of YouTube videos rises 100 percent every year. Your market is definitely engaging on this platform (see the gazillion demo and how-to videos made by actual users), and it’s important that your company shows up as a credible force in the industry.

There are many ways you can build up your channel to boost traffic, increase engagement and generate new contacts for prospective clients. In addition to creating product videos, here are a few other topics to consider along with SEO tips to optimize your YouTube videos for better ranking:

  • What are the most common questions distributors and consumers have within the industry? Use each of these inquiries as video topics
  • Tell your story. Video storytelling is a powerful method to building relationships and making you more relatable
  • Leverage keywords that your audience is actively searching for. Include it in your title (preferably at the beginning) and organically sprinkle it throughout your description
  • Upload the video using the keyword as its filename
  • Always end your video with one strong call-to-action. Tell your viewers what to do next (either click on the link to opt-in to your list or comment, like, share your post)
  • Repurpose your blog content into video

#4 Blog Posts

Blogging is one of the best ways to position your brand as an expert and authority in your niche. You also significantly increase visibility. In fact, companies that blog have 55 percent more website visitors. Also, 71 percent of business bloggers say their blog increased visibility in their industries.

Your blog is another way your audience can find you in search engines. No matter how slick your website is, it simply isn’t enough. Every post is an additional piece of Internet real estate connected to your brand. You’ll attract qualified leads and generate sales by having a consistent blogging cadence in place.

Use an editorial calendar to help you plan, organize and schedule your content. Keep your audience in mind when publishing your content. What problems can you help them solve? What frequent questions are asked? How is your brand the solution that musicians, engineers or techs need? Your responses will help you generate winning topic ideas to blog about and share with your social media followers and email subscribers.

Conclusion

Implementing these tactics in your marketing will better position your brand for success online. In 2017, your customer is actively engaging in these content types so it’s kind of imperative that you build up your strategy to appeal to your audience. With consistency, you’ll increase your exposure, drive more traffic to your site and begin capturing leads to grow your brand.

If you’re a music tech marketer looking to get yourself noticed, drop us a line. We’d love to talk shop with you.

Four Things WebVR Means for Technology Brands

Four Things WebVR Means for Technology Brands

Virtual reality is the new kid on the block that’s catching everyone’s attention. Everything from VR games to photo-realistic simulations are making digital waves on every technology platform. But where does that leave regular old browsing? Is it meant to be left behind in the digital dust while everyone averts their gaze in their trendy new headsets? Not if Google’s new WebVR API has anything to say about it. Google wasted no time launching their own version of Mozilla’s ground-breaking code within a month of their browser competitor.

Now, Chrome supports virtual reality on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard. Does this mean that millions will now be able to surf the web like never before? Well, yeah, but this also has a huge impact for every technology brand and business. Here are just four things WebVR means for tech brands.

Taking brand loyalty to the next level

When customers think of your brand, their mind either flashes to the last thing they bought or your logo. It seems like a waste of all a technology to not do something a little more creative to instill a stronger sense of brand recognition. Imagine you’re just browsing along using WebVR, and suddenly, you’re transported into an immersive virtual world full of interesting eye candy extolling the virtues of Bose or Sony or another widget-maker. Your average Internet user probably isn’t a huge fan of ads, but they might feel a wee bit differently when they encounter a cool joyride brought to you by WebVR.

Endless PR potential

Speaking of brand recognition, WebVR has given brands endless possibilities for public relations. Some of these could include things like:

  • A brand new educational experience utilizing VR. Think WebVR seminars with thousands of people in the virtual conference room
  • Live events and giveaways during real life events in public places
  • Virtual tours and a closer look at the people who actually run the company
  • A plethora of showcase possibilities

Sit back and imagine, opening up your email and receiving a newsletter reminding you about the release date of a product you’ve had your eye on. It could be anything really–the latest Apple product, a new watch or anything from a designer catalog. Now imagine you’re putting on your VR headset and actually interacting with a life-size digital replica of that very product. It’s the 21st centuries’ take on window shopping–all from the comfort of your home.

Virtual tours

Virtual tours are becoming increasingly more popular thanks, in part, to VR. With WebVR, it’s safe to say that it won’t be much longer until every vacation, rental, real estate and apartment listing will have a virtual tour option. Of course, this won’t just extend to property. You could shrink down and (virtually) go inside a router or other piece of tech to see what makes it tick.

The dawning of a new era

Firefox and Chrome already have millions of users, so time is the only thing holding up WebVR’s progress. There are still plenty of skeptics. It’ll take time to refine the API, and for regular users and businesses need to warm up a little more to virtual reality. That being said, the stage is already set, we’re just waiting on the players.

Interested in keeping up with the latest awesome VR developments? Drop us a line.