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The Brilliance from South Beach

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I would like to take this opportunity to give my sincerest apologies for our previous blog post titled “#ShitDigitalMarketersSay”. It was never our intention to belittle, humiliate, or shine any negativity onto our speakers. Saying that we, as a company, appreciate their presence at our event in Miami is a gross understatement, and am deeply sorry for conveying any message to the contrary.  It was a miserable failure on all accounts and we are truly sorry.

This is the video we should have released, highlighting the brilliance of our speakers. Again, please forgive us. This has been a very tough lesson learned.

“SEO is part of everybody’s job, so you need to really train everybody.”
- Victoria Edwards, Florida Blue

“Understand who you’re competeing against, and see how we can leverage that.”
- Bill Hunt, Back Azimuth Consulting

“Don’t forget about your mobile audience. Consider how responsive design might impact that.”
- Ross Kramer, Listrak

“I think it’s very important as a consumer, that you tell me who you are without selling to me.”
- Melissa Fach, SEOAware

“Proactive customer care. Proactive shout-outs. We follow up with people before they have a chance to complain to us.”
- Mari Luangrath, Foiled Cupcakes

“We’re not there to make money. Money is a side effect, a positive side effect, of having a mission and accomplishing that mission.”
- Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

“When clients come to you and they say, ‘We just want links. We just want to rank better.’ Don’t just think about external links. Internal linking can be very powerful when used correctly. ”
- John Doherty, Distilled

“Link building is the foundation of all things SEO, all things online marketing. It’s outreach, and reaching out to people, and having them link to your site.”
- Todd Malicoat, FishingCharters.com

“I think that it is crazy to be doing content marketing and SEO, and not doing at least some remarketing to bolster your content marketing and SEO efforts.”
- Larry Kim, WordStream

“The big thing is human engagement, and topical focus, and authority. I think you’re going to see even sentiment analysis as part of how they’re analyzing links now.”
- Loren Baker & Greg Boser, Foundation Digital

“Please, please, please do the work so you that find what works specifically for you. Use your own data, and test. Social can work so well for you if you just test it, and make sure that you’re doing what’s right for you.”
- Jennifer Lopez, SEOmoz

“The best way to build our brand is to engage our customers, our stakeholders in places where they’re actually hanging out, where they’re going to interact with us to the point where it’s going to send enough social signals to Google, that Google’s going to say, ‘Hey, this is a great brand company!’”
- Andy Beal, Trackur.com

“You have to segment everything. So, if you’re looking at bounce rate, or you’re looking at page load times, or some of the things I’m going to be talking about, don’t look at your overall site traffic. You will get a horrendous look at your site.”
- Annie Cushing, Annielytics

“If you look at a page and you’ve got five seconds, can you identify: who the company is? Are they credible? What are they offering? And, what’s the call to action?”
- Angie Schottmuller, Three Deep Marketing

“The entire reason landing pages exist is this notion that if you serve up something that is more specific to someone in the context in which they were trying to engage with you, it tends to work out better than if you serve up something more generic.”
- Scott Brinker, Ion Interactive

“The bottom line is: we can’t make it about us anymore. It’s got to be about others. Success is a natural byproduct of being an engaged human being. If you practice the art of being interested, you won’t have to use social media like a bullhorn, because you’ll never lack for an audience.”
- Courtney Seiter, Raven Tools

“The number of followers is not a great metric. The number of followers, it’s maybe something nice to say, ‘Well, we hit 10,000 followers today. We got another 500 followers since last week.’ But, really when you look at it, you also want to look at how many people they’re actually following to see whether they’re an influencer.”
- Simon Heseltine, AOL

“Just realize the ease of attributing conversion credit is dissolving. So, it’s very difficult, I think especially on the client side when you’re presenting to upper level managers that are like, ‘Well, which channels are working, because that’s where we want to put our money.’ And, it’s such a closed-minded way to look at it because all of these channels are working together. It’s an ecosystem now.”
- Susan Wenograd, Garden Ridge

“Content marketing doesn’t inherently mean that you’ve done content strategy. You can have an idea, make something, put it out, and you’ve done content marketing. But, if you haven’t planned how you’re going to make that content: who’s the audience for that content? What’s the structure of that conent? Who’s going to maintain that content? And then, what’s the strategy for putting it out? You haven’t done content strategy”
- Michael King, iAcquire

“It’s great to have these ways to do these things, and to game the system and everything, but stop worrying about gaming the system. Create good shit! Create good shit, create good customer service, create good marketing that gets the customers you have to talk about you to the customers you don’t have yet. They’ll do your PR for you. That will get you the relevance higher than any algorithm cheat you’ll ever find in your life.”
- Peter Shankman, ShankmanHonig

“What doesn’t matter is how many people are following your account. It doesn’t matter. What doesn’t matter are how many Facebook likes you have on your page. Your page rank definitely doesn’t matter, and surprisingly, how many links you have also does not matter. What matters is what makes money for you and your site, what makes money for your client.”
- John Henshaw, Raven Tools

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Graphics: In Our World and Yours

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If there’s one thing I took away from working as a Producer in the television industry for five years, it’s this: you have to assume your audience doesn’t know anything about you or your industry.

It’s sad, but true.

When I first began my producing career, I assumed my audience would know that when the hosts of my show gave another company a plug on the air, that either, a.) that company was a paying client, or b.) that we, as a station, were getting something in return.

That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

Because audiences don’t always realize that relationship is going on, there’s an actual law put in place by the FCC: Section 317 of the Communications Act of 1934. It requires that stations divulge sponsorship identification not only at the very moment they appear on the air with a billboard graphic (of a very specific size, and for a very specific duration of time), but also at the end of the show during closing credits. In television, if you don’t provide those graphics, the FCC could either slap you with a steep fine, or shut down your station completely!

In our world, the world of digital marketing, what happens when we don’t provide appropriate graphics for our videos, is that potential clients don’t know how awesome we are!

So, we have to use graphics tell them…and we do…a lot!

Take our promotional video for #IDSoCal, for example.



First and foremost, we use graphics for branding. nametag w ID logo

Rarely is there a moment you won’t see our logo. After all, we did plan the event, and you better believe we want credit for it! What’s more, we want our audience to get used to seeing our logo, and identify with it the quality product we produce. We also use graphics to tell our audience how much everyone loved our last event in South Beach: #ID2013.

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Just in case the audience doesn’t recognize the big names in the industry that they can expect to see at our events, we use graphics to help them identify those names with the companies they represent.

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And finally, as any good digital marketing agency would do, we use graphics in the video to drive traffic back to our own websites.

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Once they’re on our site, we tell them again (using graphics, of course) just how awesome we are…everywhere they turn!

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That’s when those graphics turn into Facebook “likes”, Twitter followers, and e-mail opt-ins, all which grow your list and make you money! (but that’s whole other blog) Have I not yet convinced you of the importance of graphics in video? Give me one more chance by putting it into a context we can all relate to this time of year: football! You may not realize just how big of a role video graphics play in the connection football fans watching from home have with the game. But one person who does, is Ben Mark of SportsMEDIA Technologies, the company responsible for generating all those graphics in real time.





Regardless of what type of company you work for, or product you’re producing videos to promote, make sure you don’t forget to use graphics. Not only do they help enhance viewer experience, but they convert into more business for you!

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Why we canceled #IDSoCal and our #IDExperience at Pubcon

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So I wanted to take a moment to explain why our events were canceled.  I will address them individually below:

 

#IDSoCal

We had a great event in Miami and decided to launch a second event in San Diego for December.  We pushed hard, ran ads and did a lot of outreach.   Our support was great but unfortunately tickets weren’t selling.  At the time of cancellation we had only sold 6 tickets and that wasn’t enough to run an event with a $150,000+ budget.  We decided to cancel the event early to avoid as much inconvenience as possible.

 

#IDExperience at Pubcon

The purpose of running this event was to promote our San Diego Conference, #IDSoCal.  After we made the hard decision to cancel that event we had no real reason to run the #IDExperience at Pubcon. There are many great activities going on and we hope to hang out/meet you all at Pubcon.

 

I am truly sorry for the inconveniences it has caused and look forward to seeing you guys at Pubcon and other events.

 



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Using Vine To Swing Your Company To The Top Of The Social Media Ladder!

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If you’ve used social media at all in 2013, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Twitter’s latest mobile service: Vine.

Just in case you haven’t heard of Vine, it’s an app that allows users to capture six seconds of video or less, to create a looping video. You may be thinking, “there’s no way to convey a valuable message to potential clients in only six seconds!” Wrong! Several Fortune 500 companies are already doing it, and they’re doing it so effectively, chances are you didn’t even realize that’s what they were doing!

While the possibilities are endless when it comes to using this tool to market your business, here are just a few of the ways we do it at Interactivity Digital.


1. Introduce your company!



Letting people into your world can do several things. For one, it helps potential clients decide if you’re the right choice! If you join forces, will they be working with a giant corporation where they’ll be a small fish in a big sea? Or, are they with a company that will treat them like the biggest fish in the sea? That’s what we do at Interactivity Digital. We’re from a small town, have less than a dozen employees (extremely capable employees, I might add), and know exactly how valuable every single one of our clients are. After all, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here! As for our current clients, this kind of video helps remind them why they fell in love with your company in the first place!


2. Introduce your staff!



Your clients are putting a lot of faith in the ability of your staff. By attaching faces with the names of your staff members, your clients will be able to reach entirely new levels of feeling close, and experiencing trust. When you work with Interactivity Digital, you’re not just going to be in communication with one of our staff members. Chances are you’re going to be in contact with each one of us throughout our relationship. We want you to feel comfortable sharing your digital marketing fears and goals with us. To get to that level, we’re willing to put ourselves out there too!


3. Get people involved!



By offering up a challenge, such as a guessing game, you’re able to accomplish several marketing goals at once. First, is encouraging social interaction. If people respond to this type of challenge, it means you’re not only successfully getting them to be a part of your social circle, but they’ve become an active part of that social circle. In other words, they’re invested in one way or another. Another benefit to adding this type of video, is that it gives your current clients a little extra buzz! Not only are you helping them market on their own channels, but you’re exposing them to yours as well! Finally, this kind of video can help you, as a company, gauge your own market efforts. If people are able to identify one of your clients in just six seconds
(without using the company’s name or logo, of course), you know you’re doing a darn good job of getting them the visiblity they’re paying you to get!


4. How To Videos



Ever heard the saying that “the best things in life are free”? Well, they are! When you give someone something for free (even if it is a small tip like using a cell phone tripod to create better Vine videos) they’ll walk away feeling inspired. When people feel inspired by you, they’re much more likely to return to your page to relive the experience. What’s more, if they know they can get this kind of information without having to spend any money with you, just imagine what they’ll learn when they become a client!


5. Show some personality!



Sure, at Interactivity Digital we get a lot of work done…but we also like to play! In fact, we celebrate every chance we get! Whether it’s celebrating an obscure holiday, breaking it down to the latest dance craze, or posting your own versions of the latest online meme, your current and potential clients need to know you’re not a machine! Beyond all the genius and tact that’s helping their business grow, there’s a group of fun-loving, rump-shaking, wise-cracking people that don’t always take themselves so seriously.


6. And finally, keep them coming back for more!



Self-promotion is priceless, and you should do it as often as you can. Period.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep your company in sight. Using Vine, it only takes 6 seconds!

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6 Phases of Mastery

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We recently ran an event and I invited Greg Harrelson to speak on our stage.  He gave a speech about the 7 steps of Sales Mastery and it was amazing.  It really spoke to me and I have found myself at different phases of the cycle during my business career.  Please take some time, watch the video and leave a comment about your thoughts.  If you know someone who is struggling with sales please share this page with them as well.

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Introducing #IDConnect

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What would better online marketing mean for the success of your business? It’s time to connect with the skills you need to find out.

At last week’s Earned Paid Owned one-day digital marketing event in Myrtle Beach we introduced a new way of managing your business’ digital marketing needs called #IDConnect. This learning program is designed to take your business to the next level online with a slate of informational and coaching tools designed specifically for small businesses.

By joining the program you’ll be able to tap into the expertise of Interactivity Digital and get exclusive access to tips, tricks and tactics that will boost your business, optimize your online presence and maximize the return on your marketing investment.

Check out the video below for an introduction to the program and our team of experts or visit connect.interactivitydigital.com for full details.

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How to Make Sure People Hate Your Website

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As much as great design alone cannot make your website great — it generally also takes valuable content and proper marketing —  really bad web design can absolutely make users hate your site and sink your business’ chances of success faster than you can say “animated GIF.”

Sure, there are times when a less-than-stellar-looking site provides such compelling content or such an amazing product, that it pulls you in regardless of its looks. But the vast majority of the time, delivering a quality site means having both a well-designed, easy-to-ready layout AND providing great value to your users.

Last week, I published an post on the best-designed websites in Myrtle Beach giving nods to some of the sites in our area that are both great looking and very usable. In the process of putting together this article I also came across some not-so-great design, and more than a few sites that were just plain horrible.

It’s with these outdated, unusable and just plain ugly sites in mind that I’ve come up with a few of my biggest pet peeves and web design no-no’s.

My hopes are that if just one person who reads this decides not to make their business page a Wix-hosted, Flash-fueled steaming pile of internet dog poo, I’ll have made the world a better place — at least for us designers.

Here’s a look at 5 things you should absolutely never do in designing your website. Unless, of course, your goal is to make people hate your business:

1. Stretch some really tiny images.

Now that nearly everyone you know has a smartphone with a 12 megapixel camera in their pocket at all times, there’s simply no excuse for running a tiny, blurry 200 pixel wide photo — especially if it’s blown up to 300% on your homepage and pixelated to the point where you can’t barely tell if it’s a cat or a horse.

Using low-quality photos is one of the most noticeable red flags of a non-professional design. Having pixelated images, having no images or having WAY too many tiny images packed onto one page are all major design no-no’s.

There’s no exact formula to how many photos you should use or how large they should be, but just remember the point of nice photography is to draw a user in and show them what your site is all about.

Putting high quality photos and smiling people on websites has been proven to increase reader engagement and conversions, but keep in mind not to get cheesy or overdo it as users know what’s real and what’s been bought off of a stock image site.

Check out spots like  Creative CommonsFlickr and morgueFile for images and make sure you give credit to the photographer when you can. And if all else fails, spend a few bucks for a real photographer (the quality is often worth it) or hire an intern with a DLSR or a find family friend with a photo hobby and ask them to help.

2.  Highlight important information with colored text on a colored background.

This is a common problem that most non-designers have a tough time understanding.

“But my logo is blue and red. Why wouldn’t I want blue type on a red background?”

Simply put, it’s hard to read.

Anything that makes your site harder for your users to read is a major problem. Gradients, textures, screened out boxes…these are all effective design tools when used properly and VERY dangerous ways to spell disaster when used by Joe Businessowner.

If you don’t know what you’re doing it’s best to avoid these design tricks — along with animated graphics and exotic display fonts  — altogether.

Great design is all about using images, fonts and colors to direct readers/users to the most important information on the page.

The more colors and textures you use the more likely that you’re convoluting your messgae and driving folks away from what you’re offering.

When in doubt, just keep it simple. Only use a few colors and keep it high contrast when it comes to text. Black text on a white background reads great, you know.

3. Make finding your contact form like a scavenger hunt.

This one is more about user experience than just looks, but on the web usability is a big part of what makes any design work.

Making your site usable means presenting a clear path to tell users what you want them to do, whether it’s reading an article, buying a product or contacting you for more information about your services.

The worst thing you can do is make an awesome-looking site with tons of engaging content that gets users super-excited about what you have to offer and then make it impossible for them to find your phone number, shopping cart page or your contact form.

Any site worth its weight needs a distinct hierarchy to its homepage — usually driven by the use of a large image of prominent headline — and should provide a clear call to action. If it takes 2 or 3 or 4 clicks to get to the page you want them to go to you’re doing it wrong.

Oh, and while we’re at it try to make it as simple as possible for potential customers to give you their info. Yes, I know it’d be nice if you had their address, date of birth AND social security number, but please keep your form fields to a minimum.

4. Throw in pop-ups at random times.

This one won’t go over well with marketing professionals who swear by modal pop-up windows as a conversion mechanism, but as far as user experience goes, these in-site pop-ups still feel like more of an annoyance than they are worth.

There is plenty of data to suggest that these can work very well for sites when used properly — check out how Listrak uses them to collect e-mails — but there’s something about interrupting the flow of a good page design with an unsolicited call-to-action that bothers me as a designer and as a user.

I know it’s not right, but when I read I’m just as likely to click away from the page when I see a pop-up as I am to find the “X” button and close it down and get back to reading the site I sought out to read in the first place.

If you are going to decide to use a pop-up, whether to collect data, give an offer or offer customer service, make sure that you’re doing so for a reason and that you can’t simply achieve the same goal with a prominent call-to-action on the homepage.

As long as the message it short and make them easy to “X” out, most users will tolerate — and maybe even utilize — the pop-up window, but for God’s sake keep them to a minimum.

5. If all else fails, autoplay some loud ass music.

With the possible exception of a band website — and I tend to think even that’s a stretch nowadays — there’s no reason to “treat” your users with an autoplaying version of your favorite tune.

Even if you think “These Boots Are Made For Walking” is right for your shoe store or “I Love This Bar” is perfect for your sports saloon, there’s a good chance your users will simply see the extra click to pause the music as horribly annoying.

Also, its pretty likely that a big portion of your traffic will come from professionals browsing the web during work hours. And nothing drives an office-dweller to click away from your site faster than loud music blasting out from their cubicle while the boss lurks nearby.

Just in case you need a reminder check out “Sounds of the Internet” for some of the best (i.e. worst) autoplay sites on the web.

A few more ways to piss people off…

In no particular order, here’s a couple more major design no-no’s to avoid:

• Having 5 calls-to-action on your homepage. One is enough.

• Telling people to follow you on Facebook or Twitter and having a broken link or inactive profile.

• Using Flash animation of any kind. Especially in the navigation.

• Excessively bolding words. Yes, that means you too old school SEOs.

• Having too many Google ads. You’re not going to get rich off the 15 visits per week to your plumbing blog. Just stop it.

• Using entire paragraphs of ALL CAPS in body copy.

• Using the same stock WordPress theme that’s been kicking around since 2005. Something like this.

 

 

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Photo: What Gear Do I Need?

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In part two of “What Gear Do I Need?”, I’ll be walking through what gear out need to get started in photography.

Photography? You might wonder. Why would I care about photography? Can’t I just take photos with my mobile phone? I mean its got 8 megapixels. That’s all the matters.

Well, not really. Without writing a book about the technical aspects of photography, there’s a lot more to quality photos than just megapixels. So, if you’re a small business owner or a representative of a small or medium size business, you’re going to want high quality photos to show off yourself/your product/location, ect.

Why should I want to take good quality photos for my website/business?

Well, reader, getting high quality photos on your website had been proven to convert better and show better trust signals to users. A local business with high quality photos on the home pages and interior pages will appear more legitimate to users, increasing your time on site and reaching the goals of your web property.

So now you know why higher quality photos on your website can help, what do you need to get started?

Body

There are dozens of camera makers from Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Canon and many more. Any modern DSLR or mirrorless camera is pretty capable of taking decent photos with a kit lens and lots of light on your subject. My personal cameras are of the Micro Four Third variety, which is a shared platform with Panasonic and Olympus utilizing the same lenses and sensor sizes. Recently at IM, we got a Canon T5i, another very popular model of DSLR’s from Canon. That camera handles itself very well, but is a bit large to carry around. The benefits of one of these smaller cameras (like a Olympus EPL5) is the compact handling and size. You can easily fit a MFT camera in a cargo pocket or purse given you’ve attached a pancake lens to it. This can be advantageous to carrying the camera with you everywhere. If you do any kind of web marketing for a local business, or you are a local business, being able to capture high resolution quality photos will be the benefits we talked about above.

Lens

After you’ve selected a camera body, I would recommend skipping the kit lens and investing that money into a faster lens (faster: meaning letting in more light, allowing for better low light photos). For Olympus and Panasonic cameras, the excellent 20mm 1.7 is awesome for general purpose photos of people, products or locations. For Nikon and Canon, both make 50mm lenses they make with wide apertures that take good photos of people, products or locations.

Technique

Perhaps too difficult to sum up in a short paragraph, good photo technique takes years to master. For general purposes, line up your photos from more than one angle and more than one vantage point. Looking at medium, high and low points from multiple angles might show you a line you didn’t see before. If you’re in doubt, take tons of photos. Memory is pretty cheap nowadays. Don’t be afraid to explore and find out what works best for you. Maybe you’re looking to do head shots for your staff on a “Employee” page. This might require a flash, tripod and background. Research and find out what the pros do for whatever you’re looking to photograph. A portrait headshot is a lot different than product photography or landscape. Research (information is plentiful) and find the lens/technique that works best.

Summary

Using a modern DSLR or mirrorless camera with a nice lens attached will allow you to take photos you may have previously thought were not possible. Using these photos on your website or for a business is worth the extra effort. It will provide a nice design aesthetic for your web property and tell potential customers and clients you care about the details. High quality photos of you or your products has been proven to convert better, leading more people to your website and reaching your goals.

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Tools We Like: Droplr

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Here at IM, we deal with a lot of software everyday. From industry specific packages like Raven Tools to our standby software like Pages and Basecamp, all of our staff spends a moderate amount of the day looking at some software package.

Nearly all of them claim to be the best at whatever they do. In this mini-series, I plan on showing you a few tools that you’re likely in need of, but haven’t quite understood or didn’t know you needed. First up, I’d like to talk about Droplr, a simple file sharing service that makes your life easier.

Droplr bills itself the “world’s easiest way to share & host images, notes, files & more online … all for free.” I believe this is a pretty apt description of the service. The reason that I’ve been so happy so far is the frictionless nature of sharing files with Droplr. I’ve even upgraded to the Pro service for those extra perks that they offer.

My Workflow:

About a dozen times a day, I have to share something with either a client or a co-worker. In the past, I’d have to deal with e-mail attachments, file sharing services or dropbox shared files. These all work fine, but it was always a bit of a chore to share files. I’d have to save the file, code snippet or image, move it to the desktop and then upload, find the share URL and send. With Droplr, I’ve dropped the time of sharing files and getting them into a email down to a few seconds. Pretty awesome, right?

The key is the super functional menu bar application (for Mac). It sits at the top of my screen at all times, ready to grab anything I throw at it and (here’s the cool part for me) automatically copy a shareable URL to my clipboard. That means that file I quickly saved on the desktop is uploaded in a few seconds, while I open my email client and start composing an email. Then, I get an awesome pop-up notification telling me the file is already living in my clipboard. I paste that in, and I’m done.

Some benefits of using Droplr over plain email attachments and Dropbox shared files for me are statistics and short links (oh no, my analytics cred is leaking). Yes, clients, I know if you’ve viewed a file or not. I can view how many people view a short link I share on Twitter or Facebook. I can see these statistics super quickly, right in the drop down menu inside the application. This is great for seeing link share metrics across different networks. For example, you could generate a short link for differeent people to pass around and see which link gets the most views. Another benefit of using Droplr to share content is the note composer, which has options for plain text, code and Markdown. If you’re a Markdown user like me, quickly writing a HTML valid blog post is possible in this small editor. I use Droplr for all my Google Analytics and other various tracking codes to save line breaks in place, and it even highlights Javascript synax to view potential errors in your code.

Those Extra Features:

I’ve gone ahead and paid for the pro subscription which adds a lot of space (100 gigabytes for you design people out there) as well as some features like a custom URL (I have chosen cnrad.pw for my personal use) and removed ads. I also love the audio “pop” that Droplr makes when the URL has been added to your clipboard. It’s really little touches that make applications like this delight to use.

In summary, Droplr solves a problem that I didn’t really find too annoying until I used their service. The frictionless file sharing and nice touches like a custom URL and well-designed mobile and desktop applications make this my first pick for Tools We Like. Stay tuned for future installments where I dive into some other daily use applications.