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Datacentre or Cloud: is there a difference?

In a world where we expect internet speed to be exceptionally fast and without glitches, the technology that provides this has to be top notch and the level of support on par.


The terms ‘cloud’ and ‘data centre’ are regularly batted around, but it can be difficult to understand what they mean and if there are any differences.  Which should you chose for your website? How will this impact the business?


The main thing to note when comparing a cloud and a data centre is that there isn’t really any difference at all: the term cloud is used to define a cluster of servers maintained within one or multiple datacentres that all do the same task. There are, however, many different types of cloud infrastructure, but they all boil down to the same idea of multiple servers working together to provide a service.


Here at Interdirect we pride ourselves on our website hosting environment and have a designated area within a datacentre in Manchester where all of our equipment is stored. We have owned and maintained our own equipment within the datacentre for many years now and have extensive knowledge and capabilities in this area.


Our datacentre hosting environment is:   


Well maintained: we have our very own techie enthusiasts who meticulously maintain all the equipment themselves rather than relying on a third party to do so.


High performing: the datacentre servers are efficient in handling great loads so you can rely on us to ensure your website, touchscreen, app, intranet or bespoke system is going to be running smoothly and quickly.


Backed up: all the information stored on the servers is backed up and with disaster recovery provisions in place.


Highly secure: the datacentre itself is incredibly secure with a 24 hour security guards and a huge number of CCTV cameras. The data itself is equally secure and only those with company-approved credentials and equipment can access it. We continuously monitor and enforce user controls specified in the PCI Data Security Standard.


In summary if you are looking for a reliable, stable, secure and high performing hosting environment then Interdirect can offer you just that.


By Nicola Mason, Account Manager at Interdirect.

2016 Highlights so far at ID

 

2016 has already been a year we Brits won’t forget, whether it’s because of Brexit, Bowie, or bowing out in the Euros to Iceland. It’s not all doom and gloom however – as eternal optimists we know that good news is brimming, if you take time to look beneath the front pages. 


As well as the many jaw-dropping moments which have occupied the headlines, there have been many which have caused us to break out in a smile – and we’re only half way through the year!


Our list of top 10 moments in 2016 includes:


1.    Launches – in the space of the last 6 months we’ve launched some truly ground-breaking websites for organisations such as Telford & Wrekin Council, Allen & Son and Willen Hospice. With more great websites in the pipeline, we think 2016 will go down as a year when we really pushed ourselves to follow our creative visions to the max.


2.    New additions – in June our Senior PR Account Manager Anne brought little Lucas Walsh into the great wide world, and into our offices just a few weeks ago to introduce himself!


3.    Awards – we were delighted to win the ‘Best B2C Technology Innovation’ accolade at the BrightSparc awards, for our website for Grand Central in Birmingham which was launched in September of last year.


4.    Community – early in the year Interdirect became an honorary Member of MK College’s Partners’ Programme, demonstrating our commitment to the college as a hub of mainstream as well as professional learning and networking. We look forward to all that this partnership has to offer to the city!


5.    Recruitment – ID has expanded in 2016 and taken on some fabulous new talent! We’ve welcomed Jake Hall, our New Business Development Manager, Emma Mullings who joined our team of Account Managers, and Alice Jenkins as Senior PR Account Manager alongside Anne.

 

6.    Charity – we’ve always been key supporters of local initiatives and love an excuse to don fancy dress and do some good for the community. Our latest charity project was just this weekend, taking part in the Midnight Moo midnight walk, when we rose over our target of £250!


7.    Wins – we’ve taken on some fantastic new clients so far in 2016, including Bedfordia Group, Webb Hotels & Travel and Tarmac, as well as doing more for our existing clients.


8.    Ringing bells – Senior PR Account Manager Alice got married and went from a Bramall to a Jenkins! The sight of her decorated desk isn’t one we will soon forget…


9.    Expansion – in June we launched a new website promoting SiteLite, our innovative and affordable ‘off-the-shelf’ web design services. Bridging the gap between websites you build yourself and a bespoke site (with a price point to match), we’re on a mission to help small businesses in MK and surrounding areas.

 

10.    Events – in March we helped organise and produce the biggest and best MKBAA so far! More than 550 of Milton Keynes’ finest business people attended to see 14 awards handed out to local businesses by compere Debra Stephenson. Bring on MKBAA 2017!


As you can see, it’s been quite a year so far! We wonder what the next 4 months have in store…

Why Online Reviews Should Become a Marketing Priority

We might think of reviews as one of the final potential perks in the marketing cycle – come up with our product/service, hone in on our target market, use marketing to reel them in, engage with them, sell, engage some more, and then hope for favourable feedback to grow our brand influence. Over the last few years, however, I’ve found myself pushing clients more and more to focus on reviews as a starting point rather than an ending one, and that’s not simply because I like to eat pudding before my main course. 

These days it seems so much of marketing has become highly technical, often confusing, and requiring specialist help just to ensure steady footfall and sales. Reviews remain one area which (although digitised) seem to have remained crystal clear in their purpose: to spread awareness through authentic word of mouth.

According to the latest Nielson study, over 90% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family: “word-of-mouth is quickly becoming the million dollar commercial” says Nika Stewart, SEO of GhostTweeting.

So just what do reviews bring to your online marketing and SEO strategy? The answer is – “much more than you might think!”

1.    You take up more space in search engine listings

The simplicity of reviews means that whilst other areas of marketing have succumbed to digital black hat tricks, taking words from the horse’s mouth is perhaps the most authentic material consumers can see when making purchase decisions – and Google is no stranger to this fact.

Numerous features have cropped up in search engines in recent years to facilitate the presence of authentic feedback online, most notably Open Graph which allows reviews and testimonials to appear in search results (SERPs), social media and other places. Reviews have been a longstanding feature in Google My Business too, translating into reviews appearing in Google Maps.

Star ratings in SERPs require at least 5 reviews. This may sound like a small number but it can be tough to achieve for smaller businesses with an online presence, relative to their size. Spending the time and/or money on a strategy to drive reviews can make an enormous difference nonetheless – just look below at how much more your business’ listing stands out, with a star rating compared to your less eye-catching competitors.


 
Tip: Once you’ve started the ball rolling, you’ll tend to see that new customers are more likely to leave a review. No one likes to be the first in line, and the digital world is no different, so start by asking your closest clients, who will be happy to get things off on the right foot.

2.    You’ll be higher up on page 1

In short, reviews make a huge visual difference to your visibility in search engines, but it doesn’t stop there. They also impact your ranking, as well as visual appeal! According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to constitute around 10% of search engine algorithms’ ranking decisions, amongst other factors such as physical location, backlinks to the website and social media activity.

This means that if you’re a small to medium sized business, relying heavily on regional custom, those reviews are a crucial element of whether you’re at the top of page 1 in SERPs, or slipping towards page 2 and beyond. Being small in size also tends to mean a more personal connection with your customers, so you may feel it is easier to encourage them to leave reviews.

Tip: This can be done in so many simple ways, from adding a review request and link in your email footers to loyalty incentives or just upfront asking!

3.    Happy customers are your best salespeople

Lastly, we’re forgetting their most basic purpose – to encourage other customers to buy. Although talking yourself about how great your products or services are can work, but no one can sell them as well as a happy customer. They are also a great source of genuine feedback for you to feed into your business’ development.

Make sure you engage with customers here as online reviews are another touch point where you can make a personal connection with them, especially those that may not have been so complimentary.

Tip: Always respond promptly and professionally to negative reviews, and invite the reviewer to contact you to chat about it. Use Google’s red flags too when necessary – these flag highly inappropriate content such as reviews with heavy swearing, racism or other unacceptable comments.

So, what could make more sense than using the efforts you’re already making in product development, customer service and marketing to your advantage? There are so many review websites, from the giants like TripAdvisor, Yelp and online retailers such as Amazon, to smaller industry specific review websites such as DentistFinder.net (as an example!).

Reviews can be one of the simplest ways to boost your marketing and SEO strategies, with little to no knowledge necessary. Set yourself the goal of achieving a realistic number of online reviews each month, and you could see your search engine listings, rankings and sales all improving in the coming months.

The Changing Face of PR

Alice Bramall, Senior PR Account Manager gives us her take on how PR has evolved and what companies need to consider if they want to keep up.

In 1984, Apple’s Super Bowl television ad caught imagination like few others. It saw a girl in red running shorts and t-shirt sprinting towards a cinema screen, where a grim face spouted totalitarian ideology at ranks of downtrodden grey figures.

As she successfully hurls a hammer at the screen and it shatters, a voiceover announces the launch of a new personal computer and the image fades to the well-known Apple. The adverts clear message? That computer were coming out of the shadow of an Orwellian Big Brother and into the hands of the people.

In 1984, popular use of the internet and emails were a decade away, and it would be 20 years before Facebook, YouTube and Twitter appeared. So if you wanted to tell somebody about the great ad you had just seen, it would be on landline in the hall.

In 2016 the internet, social media and mobile technology have transformed how we find, use and exchange information and it has transformed PR. In 1984 you could promote your business via the media of print, television, cinema ads and billboards; and the only mobile advertising platforms that existed then were buses. Apart from clipboard surveys, feedback on how your message was getting out there would be from a sales graph, and the only conversation you had with your customers was at the cash register.

Today, while print, television, cinema, billboards and even bus advertising are still with us, there are now many more channels to create, build and maintain positive brand awareness. A bespoke responsive website should be the heart of your marketing and PR strategy as the customer facing shop window. It should not stand alone but be integrated with all other communication channels.

You might never see your customers face to face, but the conversation you can have with them through social media and email campaigns is an essential PR tool, engaging customers and potential customers in a way that a PR campaign of 30 years ago, could never do.

Communication then was one-way; marketing messages were shouted at customers without feedback, and methods of gauging the reach, impact and success of a PR campaign were limited. Nowadays however, the data-rich seam of information produced in real time from clicks, likes and shares is itself a key PR and marketing tool. 

In 2016, that lovingly crafted Apple Super Bowl TV ad, might still be found on a prime time television slot. However, unlike in 1984, there would also be a multi-channel marketing and PR campaign online and in the press geared up and ready to run, as soon as the ad had aired. Selected leaks would have been circulating on the web in the days leading up to it, as insiders’ trail the advert on the blogosphere and teaser clips would drop on YouTube. A Twitter storm would reach its crescendo after the final frame with its multiple calls to action - all channels mobilised to maximise the PR impact across all audiences and media. The advert is the story, the story is the conversation and the conversation becomes the story.

Not all of us can deploy PR resources on such a scale but any of these elements can, as part of a co-ordinated PR strategy, raise your business profile and reinforce your brand and image, and in a crowded space this is vital.

Interdirect moooves around Milton Keynes for Willen Hospice’s Midnight Moo

Interdirect’s Katie and Laura moooved around the city for Willen Hospice’s Midnight Moo!


We are really proud of Katie and Laura, from our account management team, who successfully completed the 10 mile walk for Willen Hospice earlier this month.


Having designed and decorated their superhero capes,in keeping with this year’s Superhero theme, Katie went the extra mile and dressed at ‘Crazy Rainbow Cat Lady’.


We are particularly chuffed for the pair as they managed to raise over £250 for Willen, a fantastic result for an evening’s stroll around MK. 


Well done girls and there are lots of us now queuing up to join you next year!
 

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!


Working in digital marketing, I spend a lot of time online, particularly on social media and clickbait-y websites such as Reddit, Buzzfeed and the Metro (and my Mum told me I’d never ‘get a job sitting on Facebook all day’) checking out what’s new and interesting in the world. Over the past few days, the online world has been buzzing with discussion about the internet’s latest and greatest phenomenon, the Pokémon Go app.

Despite having only just been released on UK shores, it has taken the country by storm and after being told that my colleague Laura spent ‘all weekend walking round in fields catching Pokémon’ I was sold. I downloaded it to my own phone and set about on my merry quest to become a Pokémon Master.

Downloading the app found me creating an avatar of myself, and setting out around my area, waving my phone in the air as I searched for Pokémon to appear on my radar, much like the picture below.

 
Whilst I was out catching Pokémon, I encountered several other people doing the same thing on their phones. The majority of players appeared to be teenage boys, but there was also an adult couple, and a family with young children, all looking to catch ‘em all. While it’s not unusual to see people on their phones while out and about, it is refreshing to see young people actively engaging with the area they live in, (even if it is to catch a Pikachu) rather than just trudging their way from point A – B.

The success of Pokémon Go has been enormous, and deservedly so. In only a week or so since its release the tangible benefits have been obvious. Not only is it getting a couch potato generation off their sofas and into the great outdoors (thank goodness it’s been so sunny), but it’s been reported to have helped people with depression, encouraged new friendships and even stopped a robbery!

This retake on a 1990’s game has marked a new era of modern gaming, and while I am sceptical about how interested people will be in such pursuits during the cold winter months, I for one am very happy wandering around Milton Keynes looking for Pokemon in the sunshine.

Regardless of the weather though, you mustn’t forget – you gotta catch ‘em all!