I’m writing this blog entry on the 27th of December from the upper floor of a stone cottage, looking out over the fields and hills of North Devon. On arrival, we were teased by a sticker on the kitchen wall with a wifi code, but so far this combination of letters and numbers has not enabled any sort of viable connection to the internet. Yesterday, in Dartmoor, I couldn’t even log into FourSquare to say I was there.
While I know that this entry can be synced via Evernote later and posted to the blog later still, I’m used to an immediate, fast internet connection these days. As such, the times without it – the hours travelling north on the train, the week my husband and daughter had to connect at Australian internet cafes, this Christmas without Skype – seem somehow unnatural. It’s hard to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, even the web is new.
For now though, the sun is unexpectedly shining, the child is unexpectedly sleeping, and I’m sitting atop a very high four poster bed thinking about all that’s to come in 2014.
We’ve got the launch of two websites on Taskforce Digital’s schedule for January already: one in WordPress, one in Shopify. I’ve quickly set up this blog using Woothemes’ Canvas, which seems to be fairly flexible in getting the basics of the site layout done. Now I’m looking forward to trying out the portfolio and testimonials modules, and to using the Woothemes framework for a new client site. Perhaps later in the year, I’ll look into Woocommerce as an e-commerce platform as well, but for now, I’m happy on Shopify. I’m keen to try out some of their recently released features, such as gift vouchers, early in 2014.
I’ve spent less time on Facebook in 2013 than I have in previous years, and that’s probably a trend that will continue. I think it’s still a useful platform for those sort of brands that people love – charities that they care about, products that they enjoy using – but for many other companies every change in Facebook’s algorithm makes it harder and harder to have stories seen without paying for the privilege through advertising and sponsored stories. Facebook competitions remain a good way to build up an opted-in email list – but in my experience this year, the call to action works better in the subsequent emails than in a Facebook post. There’s a recent LinkedIn discussion here where a number of social marketeers have expressed their views on Facebook as a marketing tool.
Using the improved Facebook Insights, we may now be able to get more data about our pages’ engagement levels than we could in 2012, but it’s still no match for the combination of AdWords and Analytics in tracking ROI on advertising spend. Features introduced this year, such as bid adjustments based on time, location and device combined with remarketing techniques, have allowed further optimisation of already well-performing campaigns. The addition of the ability to cut and paste keywords, ads and adgroups, not just in AdWords editor but also in the online interface, has definitely cut down on my administration time.
Cutting down on administration time will definitely be a theme for me in 2014, with a new baby due to make an appearance in January. I’ve recently swapped the Taskforce accounts to Quickbooks Online (from the software version), and I’m enjoying the dashboard which gives an overview of what’s earned and owed, and the ability to send invoices with the click of a button. After years of resisting, I’ve also made the move to using a Mac laptop. It’s nice to not have to blow into the air vents to get my business computer started, and the syncing between the laptop, iPad and phone is useful too (though I did manage to delete most of the phone numbers in my phone contacts in the process of doing so).
I think mobile internet’s time has well and truly arrived, and while I’m on maternity leave, the plan is to spend some more time looking into responsive web design and app development. These days I have some clients who get more web traffic from mobile phones than PCs, particularly when the content being accessed deals with health or other sensitive topics. This audience deserves some focused attention too.
Apart from that, I foresee the early months of Taskforce Digital’s 2014 being about MailChimp and Survey Monkey, Salesforce and, as always, the creation of great content. Beyond that, who knows? I’m looking forward to seeing those tweets that link to articles that tell me about things that I’ve never heard of before, I’m looking forward to new videos on Treehouse, new app discoveries, working with new and existing clients on whatever their online challenges will be. I’m excited about building the Taskforce team and increasing the range of skills we can offer. I’d love to read your reflections on 2013 and predictions for 2014 in the comments below.
Outside the window, there are white fluffy clouds and white fluffy sheep on green hills; no sign of December snow. The star’s starting to fall off our Christmas tree. I’ve almost eaten all the mince pies. The year is coming to a close, and we’ll soon be heading back to London.
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season, and wish you all the best through whatever this new year brings.