At Your Service!!

We were delighted to be asked by Millstreet Country Park to design and develop a new website for their amazing facility. Being honest, I never even knew the facility was there until we started working with them. The Park was featured on tonight’s “At your Service” with John & Francis Brennan on RTE. We are very proud of what we have produced and I think you’ll agree when you see the ‘Before & After’ shots below that the new site is a much better representation of the Park.  I hope we don’t have to tell you which is which 🙂

Best wishes for the future to Millstreet Country Park

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Digital Marketing Strategies in 2014

As the New Year progresses most companies a busy rethinking their digital marketing strategies for the year, as marketers read through article and article trying to figure out the latest or biggest trends for 2014. We must still focus on the main objective, Advertising.

There are three big trends to online advertising this year and we at granite have taken a detailed look into what we think will have the most effect and produce the most conversions for clients in 2014.

 1. Native Advertising / Sponsored Advertising

nativeNative advertising is the ability to tuck a brand message into the editorial experience in a seamless and responsible way, creating a story and target audience research is crucial for success. By working with influential and highly skilled individuals you can find, and sponsor content to promote your brand and product.

Native Advertising is probably the hardest style of advertising to master and it takes a lot of imagination and creativity,

To create good Native Advertising there are techniques and pointers to consider before creating a campaign –

  • Find influencers that lead not follow. There are thousands of bloggers and media personnel that don’t start the conversation, they follow it. By listening, following you gain a good understanding of what the current topics of targeted audiences are thus allowing to create your own opinion/spin on relevant subjects.You want to work with people that start the conversation not just people who amplify it. They will guide you towards connecting with their readers.
  • Create an experience. It’s not just the content. It’s about creating a user experience to draw someone in, piece with video, music, HTML 5, parallax effects, are all features to create a story and experience for the user. By creating a piece with well crafted edits, stunning images, immersive video with text overlay and innovative design to create a magical digital experience. Suddenly it’s hard not to get pulled in and feel something – in a whole new way.
  • Don’t compromise quality. Many companies clutter up space and ruin design with too much advertising thinking quantity creates higher conversion rates but this can be the complete opposite and can actually harm conversion rates, quality not quantity wins over in the Native advertising stakes and compromising quality is just as bad. Multimedia skills are what shine in this area a cross platform is essential to create that great user experience, Doesn’t your brand equity get damaged by sponsoring lame content?
  • Be transparent – and have fun with it. Work closely with you Native Ad content creator weather it be in-house or external. By fully understanding the goals quality will be produced and if it’s a great experience for the reader, everybody wins.

2. Contextual Advertising

Contextual Advertising is more of a direct root to the source so to say, there are different theories of exactly what contextual Advertising is some say Contextual advertising is designed to align with the media property in which it appears i.e. if you are browsing for cars then the user will see adverts for tyres, oil, crash repair garages content that is related to the page. Another theory is that contextual advertising refers to user behavioural targeting, if a user browsed for a product then went onto facebook that products advert will show up in the users facebook feed.

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But there is a down side to contextual advertising and it all depends on the user and what they are doing at the current time

  • If the user is in search mode then Contextual Advertising has a positive effect and will provide the user the Answer, solution or product that they are searching for.
  • If the user is in browse mode then directing paid adverts at them will not return any conversions and will simple be over looked

 3. Re-marketing

Ad words Re-marketing is an action taken by marketers to reintroduce a product or service that a user desired but didn’t take any action at the time. Re-marketing has been steadily growing over the last 12 months and is surprisingly cost effective when compared to other forms of marketing it relies heavily on cookies so be warned Whether you are already doing re-marketing or are looking to start, you need to ensure that you are compliant with the cookie law. When a user views a website or product the user is tracked by cookies as the user continues to browse adverts for the product will be directed to follow the user. This is a very good way to get undecided conversions but re-marketing must be tracked in its self, if your campaign has acquired a conversion that intended user must stop being tracked to avoid irritation with the brand and wasted promotion expenditure.

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  • All site visitors – Basic re-marketing to increase brand awareness, increase traffic all pages of a website.
  • Undecided / Almosts – Physically clicked through or placed items into shopping cart but didn’t convert, here your re-marketing efforts should be aimed at shopping cart / landing pages
  • Members –  Some websites have log in areas to find out more information on products or services, targeting re-marketing on these pages the user is guaranteed to view adverts of interest.

.Cork, The Marketing Benefits of gTLD’s

Cork Independent recently announced that The Deputy Mayor of Cork is pushing for a .cork Domain to help promote local businesses and online sales.

gTDLCurrent Online spending in Ireland is a staggering 4bn a year, but the issue with this is that 75% of it goes to overseas companies and venders. Companies with .com .co.uk, and even .ie can be from abroad, where as .cork if properly regulated can be used to assure the customer the origin of the purchase and the locality of the service.

A domain such as .com is officially known as a gTLD generic Top Level Domain. As domain names have become scarce over the years,  a new way of naming domains had to be created. There are currently 22 gTLD’s such as .com .net .gov .ie .eu. ICANN’s  (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) aim is to promote competition, branding, consumer choice, localisation,  Digital marketing and innovation while ensuring the security and stability  of the Domain name system (DNS) with the new plan for gTLD’s and people wanting to register a unique domain will have to go through an application process.

BlogThe application window recently opened on Jan 2012 and a total 1,930 applications for new gTLD’s have been received. By March 2013 we saw the initial results of the process and in Aug 2013 the public saw the new gTDL’s that were deemed “eligible”.

So what are the benefits of unique domains?

The .cork domain will greatly benefit local retail and web development business’s within the Cork area and it will improve on more specific search results. New gTDL’s will also offer the following benefits –

  • Entrepreneurship. Create your own business model and establish accessibility policies for your TLD. If your customers want tighter security, make your TLD a high-security zone.
  • Increased control. You set the rules and the price for those registering your TLD.
  • Innovative marketing opportunity. Build better brand definition, brand awareness, brand loyalty and trust by having full control over your own TLD.
  • Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs). Increase market reach by making the Internet completely accessible to users whose local languages use non-Latin characters.
  • Engage your community. Create a rallying point for supporters of your cause, community or culture to unite with a community-based TLD.
  • Bring together your geographic area. Celebrate your local citizens, commerce, activities, and culture with a geographic TLD.

Overall the theory of a .cork is good within itself,  but you really have to ask the questions is this just clever P.R to grab the headlines of being on the pulse of web technologies or has this been planned out and will be a serious proposition to localise, unify and benefit the people and city of Cork.

Merry Christmas From Granite Digital

house10Christmas is only 5 days away! And everybody must be in Christmas cheer by now, most people have finished up work and are beginning to relax, or doing that final shop to make sure there is enough food and wine in the house to see you through the next week. Christmas catches us all eventually even the scrooges who say they don’t have house9time for Christmas; but when we actually slow down from work and look around we see the decorations are up, there’s presents under the Tree, the houses and streets are beautifully light from corner to corner. Then the inner child and the magical feeling of Christmas hits home and we can relax and forget about most things and enjoy the open fire and loving family.

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Merry Christmas from Granite Digital

Granite Digital has just launched a new, fully responsive website for IT Tallaght.

Granite Digital, one of Ireland’s leading website and online software development companies has just launched a new, fully responsive website for IT Tallaght, a first for any Higher Education Institution in Ireland. Using responsive design technology, this investment in a leading user-experience improvement for the ittdublin.ie website recognises the huge shift in website access platforms from traditional PCs & laptops to tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.

What is responsive design?

It’s a method of designing and developing a website with a fluid layout so that images and other elements of the site adapt or ‘respond’ to the screen on which the website is being viewed.

What are the advantages?

One of the main advantages of this method is that a site built using responsive design offers an incredibly high quality user experience. Traditional websites, which are not optimised for mobile devices, often display content that is difficult to navigate or too small to read. We have all had the experience of squinting on our smartphone to try and read that tiny phone number or email address and scrolling endlessly up, down, left and right

With the huge increase in people browsing on mobile devices, the implementation of these new features will allow visitors to have a far better user experience with quicker and more intuitive access to content on the go.

The website is now clever enough to ”respond’ to the device and show website sections which are more relevant to the user.

John Hannigan commented; “Together with our web partners Granite Digital we have implemented a fully responsive version of our website optimised for mobile devices such as the iPad, iPhone and most other smartphone and tablet devices. We are delighted with the results and are very excited that we now serve our audience better. Our web analytics is already showing significant improvements in usage patterns from our increasing mobile and tablet audience.”

Robert Carpenter of Granite Digital commented; “From our first conversations with ITT Dublin it was agreed that we needed to implement significant change to serve a huge change in how users access and navigate the ITT Dublin website. It was essential that we prioritised their mobile audience and give users access to content on the go and quickly. There is so much talk and confusion for website owners about needing a mobile version of your website. We get calls every week from business owners saying they need an app to take care of the huge increase in iPhones and iPads. This is not true and bugs me a little at how easily people can get caught up in the hype around ‘mobile apps’ They invest in the wrong solution for their digital presence. You don’t need to develop a web version, a mobile version and a tablet version separately. This would be a huge admin headache as well as involve high running costs. You need your website to respond to your audience. With one website responding to the device there is no extra admin time for your Webmaster. All website updates are done once centrally within the CMS (Content Management System). This is essential for ITT Dublin and any serious website owner. This phase is now delivered and we look forward to implementing even more improvements in 2013 – watch this space! ”

ITT Dublin Web analytics are already showing significant improvements in usage patterns from their increasing mobile audience and the results are very exciting.

To the best of our knowledge, they are the first HEI to release a fully responsive design to their website and are already looking forward to exciting new improvements planned for 2013.

Granite Digital Chairman Speaks at Cork Marketing Breakfast

It was no great surprise when our own Chairman here at Granite Digital

Alf Smiddy, was invited to speak at the Cork Marketing Breakfast on Tuesday the 21st of February 2012. Aside from his work at Granite Digital, Alf has plenty of other impressive business experience and knowledge to his name.

Alf was the former Chairman and Managing Director of Beamish & Crawford Plc for many years as well as the director of a number of companies across a range of sectors including Financial Services, Technology, Research, Tourism & Hospitality, and Agriculture & Food. Alf is a Fellow of the Marketing Institute, and is also a Chartered Accountant with a Masters in Executive Leadership.

At the presentation, Alf discussed Marketing Management, Branding and the importance of leadership in Marketing. Thanks to his former Chairman position at Beamish and Crawford and other expertise relevant to the industry, Alf was able to speak at length about some of his experiences during the development and introduction of many beer brands. He also discussed the Leadership in the Marketing function as well as his stance on results and executive decisions from a marketing point of view.

Throughout his career Alf worked for and alongside Marketing Directors of Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, The Miller Brewing Company, the Fosters Brewing Group, et al, all of whom became part of the International Beer Business.

Joining forces with Digital Crew

Cork’s top IT companies join forces following International success

Leading Cork IT companies Digital Crew and Granite Consulting have joined forces following close collaboration and the international success of the project management software, TeamworkPM developed by the software development team at Digital Crew.

Digital Crew have signed a takeover agreement with Cork firm Granite Consulting who will take over the running of the web development side of the business following close collaboration between both companies over the last two years. Under the Agreement, Digital Crew will focus on its highly successful TeamworkPM business which has rapidly expanded over recent years while Granite Consulting will take over responsibility for all website development with the core website development team at Digital Crew joining the Granite Consulting business.

Continue reading

Irish Heritage Trust announces dynamic new partnership with Promethean

We were delighted to attend the launch of of an exciting new partnership between the Irish Heritage Trust and Promethean today at Fota House. This will add new interactive learning technologies to the now 1 year old Fota Learning Zone which has been a huge success for Fota House at the team at The Irish Heritage Trust.

We were delighted to be asked to attend by our friends Jennifer and Kevin at the Trust and celebrate the great work they have carried at out at this wonderful Irish Historic Attraction in our hometown of Cork.
The speeches by Minister Jimmy Deenihan and especially Lord Puttnam were enjoyable and very thought provoking.

Below is the official Press Release released for this event.

Lord David Puttnam, a champion of digital education in the UK & Ireland, will be keynote speaker at Fota House. Wednesday, 24th August at 10am

Fota House, Co. Cork, August 2011: The Irish Heritage Trust is mark the first anniversary of Fota Learning Zone with the announcement of a dynamic new partnership with Promethean, a global leader in interactive learning technology. The Irish Heritage Trust will celebrate the anniversary of Fota Learning Zone during Heritage Week 2011 (August 20th-27th), with the launch of three new learning modules which tie in with the curriculum. One of these, ‘Politics or Parlour Maids’, will encourage students to analyse and decide which historical source tells us more about life in a big house: social or political. Lord David Puttnam, a champion of digital education in the UK and Ireland, will be keynote speaker on the day and the new learning module will be officially launched by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht.

Under the partnership, Promethean has worked with the Irish Heritage Trust to develop educational resources to increase the interactive elements of the new modules. Promethean has created tailor made classroom materials such as downloadable lesson plans, as well as access to online workshops through Promethean Planet, the world’s leading interactive teacher’s resource site with over one million members. The Fota Learning zone will benefit from having a partner site on Promethean Planet to hold these resources, allowing students and teachers to access learning materials after their visit in the classroom and at home, and enabling Fota Learning Zone to enhance its visibility to Promethean Planet’s online community.

Promethean has also donated ActivExpression Learner Response Systems, handheld devices which enable students to work remotely and answer questions while on the go. These will enable students to learn interactively throughout the different rooms of Fota House.

Fota Learning Zone is a free digital resource for teachers and students based on Fota House & Gardens in Cork (www.fotalearningzone.ie). Funded with the aid of a grant of €28,000 from The Heritage Council in 2010, it is multidisciplinary in approach and has been designed to appeal to teachers and students of Transition Year and Leaving Certificate History, History & Appreciation of Art and English.

Jennifer McCrea, Learning & Access Officer with the Irish Heritage Trust, explains its appeal: “Teachers and students can enhance classroom-based learning by collecting and analysing on-site evidence via self-directed learning and project work. It enables students to learn in context in an historic house and helps them to understand abstract concepts on the curriculum. For example, Leaving Certificate students of English require a good understanding of the concept of cultural context and social setting. One way of comprehending this is to experience the living conditions and social rituals of landlords and servants first hand at Fota House. The Irish Heritage Trust has pioneered this unique method of engaging teenagers with heritage in a way that is real, rich and relevant.”

Ian Curtis, Head of Northern Europe at Promethean, said: “We were delighted to be contacted by the Irish Heritage Trust and asked to support Fota Learning Zone. Promethean Planet has grown to over one million members including over 14,000 in Ireland and our ActivInspire software has allowed the Irish Heritage Trust to create more interactive content and reach a wider audience. Having collaboratively built three modules which tie in with the Irish curriculum, more people can learn about Fota House and its heritage through the learning zone”.

“The ActivExpression devices Promethean has donated will enrich and enhance learning for students who visit Fota House. It will enable them to learn as they are walking around and ensure each student is able to take part in interactive learning.”

For further press information, contact: Evelyn Byrne, Irish Heritage Trust, evelyn@irishheritagetrust.ie

Promethean Press enquiries: Katie Eborall, Grayling PR (UK), katie.eborall@grayling.com

Congratulations to Granite client Skeaghanore Duck

We are delighted to congratulate our clients, Eugene and Helena Hickey of Skeaghanore Duck, on being chosen to have their products chosen for inclusion in “The Royal Hamper”.

On her visit to the English Market in the centre of Cork City today, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth will be presented with a commemorative hamper. The hamper will be made up of iconic food produce collected from the market traders and will include West Cork Duck from our friends at Skeaghanore Duck near Ballydehob.

Conor spoke to Helena recently and she was deeply honoured that their Duck was chosen to be included in the hamper. The visit to Cork is a great opportunity to showcase the unique culture and products available in County Cork and at Granite we are delighted to offer our congratulations to Helena and Eugene.

Atlantic Sea Kayaking Makes TripAdvisor’s Top Ten

We are realy delighted that one of our first clients, Atlantic Sea Kayaking in West Cork, was chosen by leading travel website TripAdvisor.com as one of the top ten most exciting alternatives worldwide to the typical tourist holiday. Jim truly is one of the good guys out there and it’s just brilliant news to see him included in the list. It gave everyone in the office a huge smile when we heard the news.

Some time back Jim and his lieutenants (Sally, Kathy, Maria take a bow) were ramping up their website and online marketing activity and we encouraged them to take TripAdvisor seriously and create a strategy to utilise all the goodwill and kind comments out there for Jim with the aim of driving new business especially from global markets. Together it has beared fruit and it’s a massive endorsement for Jim’s business. Well done Jim.

Granite target optimum visibility on TripAdvisor for our tourism clients as it consists of the biggest travel community on the planet and we are truly delighted with what the team at Atlantic Sea Kayaking have achieved.

TripAdvisor is the leading and most trusted content platform for tourists globally and it’s imperative that relevant business owners embrace Trip Advisor and tell tourists about their business and most importantly the experience clients will have. Any serious online marketing plan for a tourism related business must address TripAdvisor as a key target.

The Top ten list was recently published in a newsletter from TripAdvisor distributed to millions of subscribers.

The citation quoted by Trip Advisor in their newsletter was from a customer who had experienced
the “Glittering water and sky on a night kayak trip” with ASK. It was “One of the most amazing
things Iʼve ever experienced”.

TripAdvisor website’s alone have 40 million unique monthly visitors, 20 million members, and over 45 million reviews and opinions.

Some TripAdvisor Facts:

• 45 million reviews and opinions

• 40 million unique visitors in one month.

• TripAdvisor additionally features 20 million registered members

• TripAdvisor is now available in 20 languages, across 27 countries worldwide. In 2010 alone, TripAdvisor has launched new websites in eight markets globally – Turkey, Denmark, Mexico, Poland, Norway, Australia, Singapore and Thailand.

• TripAdvisor.co.uk site on its own boasts 4.5 million unique visitors per month.

• TripAdvisor through their Partnership Group have 100 contracted content partners – including jetBlue, Walt Disney World, Westin Hotels and Resorts, Visit London, Hertz, and AOL Travel – and over 14,000 unique websites have added a Trip Advisor self-service widget or badge.

Jim Kennedyʼs Atlantic Sea Kayaking (ASK) is West Corkʼs leading kayak tour guide, offering sea safaris, night paddles, foraging trips as well as courses and tuition.
Jim Kennedy is a Level 5 Irish and British Canoe Union sea kayak instructor. ASK is Irelandʼs premier sea kayaking company, it was established in 1995.
The company works with both novice and advanced kayakers in one of the most beautiful marine environments in the world.

“What an accolade to all the amazing and professional staff we are so lucky to have” said Jim Kennedy, on hearing of the Newsletter. “And a very big thanks to all our friends who take the trouble to sing our praises.”