Category Archives: Digital Marketing Strategy

Real Time Responsive Design Test

Responsive Design – it’s not just a buzzword. We’ve written quite a few blog posts on the subject here at TKG. We’ve stressed the importance of providing a powerful, functional web experience whether the user is sitting in front of their PC or in the back of a taxi cab miles away from home.

Chances are if you are already working with an online marketing firm, you know whether or not your website is, in fact, responsive. But for the small business owner who doesn’t have a bevy of web experts at their disposal, this can be a tricky question.

Enter the Mobile Web Transmogrification Portal! The what? Transmog is a simple tool that generates a real-time working preview of your website as it would appear on various mobile devices. Preview options include the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy S3.  Simply plug your URL into the tool and choose the display choice. You can toggle through the different display types and click through to any page on your website. The display updates real time so you can see whether your entire site is responsive or if your homepage is the only piece that is user-friendly.

TransMogScreenCap

We’ve captured a few examples of what a nice, responsive website looks like on the iPad and Galaxy using this tool. Give it a try! If you aren’t pleased with what you see on the display, you know where to find us!

TransMog Responsive Test - iPad TransMog Responsive Test - Galaxy

Do What Works but Don’t Stop Wanting More

As an account manager of several web marketing clients, my goal is for them (and us) to be successful in growing their businesses. And we do that by aligning our strategy with their company goals, becoming partners who work together in this mutual aim.

Most of my customers want to sell more widgets or get more sales leads, and so we get them more website traffic so they can do just that. Who doesn’t like more customers, right?

If your company website leads or sales are growing, especially by having a content and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, then continue to work your plan. That’s good business sense.

But let’s not stop at just continuing to do what works. There’s always more. It’s time to try new things.

stock-footage-new-ideas-hand-drawn-lettering-with-a-simple-stylized-bulb-symbol-whiteboard-animation-on-whiteWhen it comes to making money, one of my favorite things to do is to try new ideas. It’s fun to test them out and see if you can get a return on investment. Online marketing is no different: Find something that works and expand it. Then, find something else that works and expand it, too. Repeat the process.

Let’s assume you have an SEO and content strategy working for your business. Have you tested some paid digital advertising, yet? What about social media marketing; is that right for your business? And by social media marketing, I mean true strategy that drives results – not just playing on Facebook. How about email marketing to current customers – might you get them to spend more with your company with repeat orders?

There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to growing your business. If you haven’t gone down very far down those roads, there are likely goldmines to uncover.

5 Online Marketing Tips for 2015

It’s never a bad idea to revisit your online marketing strategies and SEO efforts. Here are five quick tips to help with your online marketing initiatives in 2015.

  1. Building Stronger Content
    Need ideas for new web content? Review the submissions coming in from the comments field on your website’s Contact Us page. Additionally, review search terms users enter into your site search box. There is a report for this in Google Analytics and many content management systems also capture this data. Outside of the website, you can also ask your sales team for call transcripts from valid prospects. These are all great sources of information to better understand what is important to your customers.
  1. Find the Answers You Need
    Are you stumped on a technical or SEO-related question about your website? Visit the Google Search Help Forum to get answers directly from a community of knowledgeable Google users.
  1. Structured Data Checkup
    Does structured data make sense for your website? Probably. Rich snippets can be added to specific elements on a website to help search engines further understand information. There are snippets available for almost all types of websites so more than likely there are several that are applicable for your business. For example, there are snippets available to identify items such as navigation breadcrumbs, recipe images, product reviews, job posting locations, and the physical address of a business. Learn more at www.schema.org.
  1. Long Tail Search Term Content
    google-autocompletegoogle-searches-related Need even more landing page copy ideas? Pay attention to the auto-suggest results that show up when typing a popular industry search query into Google then write content to address the long tail results. At the bottom of Google search results pages, there are also helpful ideas in a section called Searches related to. Bing displays related searches in the right column of the results page.
  1. Keep Similar Keywords
    Stumped on which similarly popular keyword to incorporate into a page? Use both. Embrace synonyms, related phrases, and long tail phrases across title tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, URLs, page copy, etc to define an overall theme for a page rather than fixating on a single keyword. The days of finding that one magical keyword then plugging it into every single meta field are over. If it feels like you’re stuffing keywords; you probably are.

Have any other helpful digital marketing tips? Feel free to share in the comments.

Responsive Design

Over the years, the ways in which we view the internet have changed dramatically. I still remember the days when my family dialed up the internet on our old Compaq, and now users have the option to access the internet virtually on their TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, netbooks or even their refrigerators. The point is, users are accessing your site on a range of different devices, and you want to be seen everywhere you can.

If your company is willing to invest the time, money and resources it takes to create a digital playground where customers can go to discover your products and services, it’s worth adapting that investment to display correctly on all relevant devices.

According to a recent study by the research firm IDC, there were over 1 billion smartphones sold worldwide in 2013, and according to Gartner, over 195 million tablets were sold the same year. With that many mobile internet users in world, it is important that your website is equipped to adapt to those users’ mobile screens.

So what’s the takeaway? To stay current and relevant in the digital space, it is important to consider responsively designed websites. Responsive sites are quickly becoming the industry’s standard because of their ability to adapt to changing technologies, and bonus: they have all sorts of residual business benefits.

Have additional thoughts about responsive design? We’d love to hear them!

Viewing-platforms

 

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Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?

More Traffic

Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.

So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.

Leads and Sales

There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?

Conclusion

Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?

What is the SSL Effect on SEO?

In August, Google announced that having a HTTPS site will help your site’s SEO. Further information revealed that this new SSL ranking signal would be slightly less significant compared to quality content. In response to this announcement, Raven Tools co-founder Jon Henshaw has encouraged internet marketers to test this switch before jumping into a fully HTTPS site.

Making the transition from HTTP to HTTPS is not as simple as adding an extra letter to the URL. It requires adding a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which is generally found on e-commerce sites or others that offer secure transaction pages. Switching a site to HTTPS has some heavy SEO obstacles.

Henshaw gives nine steps to follow in transitioning a WordPress site to HTTPS. Outside of the difficulty of obtaining private keys and certificates, there are a number of other obstacles to hurdle over in maintaining SEO. It’s important to first understand that HTTP sites and an HTTPS sites are considered to be different sites, not extensions of one another. Next is the need to redirect traffic from the old HTTP site to the new HTTPS site. Enter the wonderful process of de-indexing. The old HTTP pages will need to be removed, which luckily, Google will do once your new redirects are set up. This will take care of the regular HTTP, or non-secure, pages.

One last tip from Henshaw is that he doesn’t recommend switching to an HTTPS site if your site is performing well and bringing in a large volume of conversions. This secure site SEO factor is another best practice to be added to a lengthy list that online marketers need to address, or at the very least be aware of.

What does this mean for your site?

Don’t panic if your site is not entirely HTTPS. As with many other changes to SEO best practices, which change constantly, you won’t want to jump straight on the wagon. Take some time to evaluate the process involved in switching from a site in HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure any kinks are worked out of the process if you decide to switch. Have a plan of action (see above steps from Jon Henshaw). How intensive will it be for your site? If your website is new, you may want to go ahead and start the transition as this change would be easier to make, and you won’t have to make the change once your site is established in organic Google searches.

I agree with Henshaw when he makes a point about successful sites with high traffic and goal completions not needing to make an immediate switch. Though being proactive is not a bad thing:

  • Are you creating a new signup feature? Make sure it is secure.
  • Are all of your e-commerce transaction pages already HTTPS? If not, that’s a change you need to make.

How does SSL effect SEO?Security needs for your site are directly related to how much information you are collecting. If the main goal of your site is only to push content, you have much less of a need for security additions; however, if you are collecting a range of personal information or credit card info, you absolutely need secure pages.

Be sure to watch your website’s statistics in the coming months. Is there suddenly a sustained loss in organic traffic? Have you noticed a dip in overall site performance? If you are having these issues, it would be worth evaluating the switch to HTTPS.

Image Source URL: http://www.softsystemsolution.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/HTTPS-Secure-Socket-Layer.png

Creating an Effective Lead Generation Website

Lead GenerationWhile creating a lead generation website may seem like a relatively easy endeavor in today’s ever-changing world of digital mobility, creating a truly effective lead generator requires a collaborative, strategic approach on the part of both the client and development resource.

The client has a great deal to do with the success of any web project.  The first sign of success is for the client’s entire team to embrace the belief that a great website is of strategic importance to the future growth and prosperity of the business. Client commitment to the project leads to a collaborative effort that realizes greater impact in user experience and effective messaging.

Purpose

Lead generation has become a soft, generic term, but in a real lead generation website, every page has a distinct purpose. When considering your site’s information architecture, you need to ask the question, “What do I want people to do on this page? What is the end result I’m trying to achieve with this content?’ In doing so, you define a collection of ‘related links’ which may change on each page, relative to that page’s content.

Calls-to-Action

The first key to creating an effective lead generation site is leading the user to the desired category or page on your site. Once there, the second key is directing the user to a call-to-action (CTA) while on the page. CTAs can appear in a variety of trackable formats such as content links (white papers, video links), form submissions, email contacts and designated phone numbers. All of the above CTAs are implemented with a common objective—to obtain desired lead contact information for the purpose of ultimately converting an interested lead into a customer.

Mobility

The world of mobile devices continues to grow in popularity and usefulness. Implementing effective lead generation practices into mobile devices does not happen automatically. Responsive design, the facility for a website to reconfigure itself depending on the viewing device, requires careful design consideration in crafting a user experience that works well on all mediums.

Content Structure

Successful content marketing begins with an effective content structure for each section of the website. This structure is designed through a series of unique ‘page templates’ representing different types of content. For each page template, it is important to carefully consider the audience and the path on which you’d like to guide them. Each content structure, and the content it houses, is designed to optimize search results.

Video and Imagery

It is well documented that people read less and respond more to image-based content. In fact, statistics support the position that video attracts as much as 300% more traffic and has a greater impact in nurturing leads. As such, incorporating video and related imagery leads to an improved user experience, thus enhancing the potential for lead generation.

Brand Image

Last but not least is the significance of brand image. The challenge that most companies face is that they try to say too much, particularly on the home page. If you approach the navigation process in a purposeful way on every page, the home page does not have to bear all the weight of the site. Think in terms of having every page on your site designed to engage the user.

Take a look at your website. Are you implementing these lead generation principles to effectively engage your audience?

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3 Ways to Tell a Marketing Company is Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke - Mirrors_700There are a lot of reasons for a business to outsource online marketing duties. Whether it is manpower, talent or the idea of the Google algorithm that makes your brain want to explode, we get it. But before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework.

There are some marketing companies out there who do a good job of using confusing jargon and the phrase “we’re working on behind the scenes stuff, you don’t need to worry about that” to glaze over a client’s eyes. When you hire a marketing firm, you should be hiring into a partnership. You should expect the same type of communication and back and forth that you would get from your employees. Here are three ways to tell that the marketing company you’re working with is all about the smoke and mirrors.

  1. They talk in code (sometimes literally). Reading a report from your marketing company shouldn’t require Rosetta Stone. Sure, there are some terms that marketers might need to throw out here and there, but they should also come with an explanation. If your reports appear to be written in Sanskrit with no translation, someone might be pulling the wool over your eyes.
  2. Everything is a secret. You hired the firm and you should expect transparency. These are your dollars being spent, so you should be privy to how many hours you are being billed for, how long certain projects take, and what end product you received. And speaking of projects, don’t be afraid to ask for a project timeline or how the company tracks and bills work hours.
  3. There are no numbers to back up the results. “The campaign is doing great! You should be seeing leads now. Your phone must be ringing off the hook!” Those things very may well be happening, but are they the result of the work of your marketing company? Your monthly reports should come with real numbers … numbers that you have access to view using a Google Analytics account. The great thing about web marketing is that just about any click on your site, email blast, or PPC ad can be tracked. Ask for numbers and educate yourself by taking a high level crash course on Google Analytics (shameless plug, something that TKG offers periodically).

Just remember, before you sign into a marketing contract, ask some questions. Learn up front what kind of reports you can anticipate seeing and don’t be afraid to ask them to cut the jargon!

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The Top 5 Coupon Sites You Need To Be Releasing Codes On

holiday couponsThe holiday season is right around the corner. The Sunday paper is getting thick with ad circulars, email inboxes are filling up with holiday promotions, and let’s not forget about the looming deals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to research released by Internet Retailer, it is projected that a record 44% of U.S. holiday shoppers will be making online purchases in 2014—an astonishing 13% increase from last year! And we can be certain that those shoppers are going to be looking for the best deal in town.

Admittedly, before I make any kind of online purchase, I do a quick Google search for an available coupon code. I mean, who doesn’t? If you have an eCommerce business and you are offering coupon codes (and believe us – you SHOULD be offering coupon codes), here is a list of the top sites we recommend!

  1. RetailMeNot – RetailMeNot receives more traffic than any other coupon site. They boast more than 500,000 coupons from 50,000 online retailers. Creating an account is easy and submitting a coupon code takes just a few minutes. You can upload your brand’s logo to help users recognize your deals easily.
  2. Coupons.com – Coupons.com typically ranks just under RetailMeNot when you do a search for coupon codes. Users have the ability to search coupon codes for online shopping but they also have a section for coupons that you can clip and print to take to local retailers. Sign up was a bit hard to find (they call it their affiliate program) but once do get there, sign up takes just a few minutes.
  3. The Mommy Insider – This is a blog-based coupon platform which means that tons of mommy bloggers, who are already out scouring the web for the best deals, might have already stumbled across your coupon code and submitted it themselves. Submitting a coupon to the site is easy and allows you to upload brand logos and product images.
  4. PromotionCode.org – Although this isn’t the prettiest site, it has a good reputation and submitting a coupon is easy (and doesn’t require you to create an account). You just plug in your website and the name of your coupon and you are done.
  5. YOUR Website – It’s true, try adding a page to your website that offers customers 10% off or free shipping using a code that can be found through organic search. Start by creating a landing page specific to your deal, write some catchy copy using your already existing product keywords, and give your audience the coupon code. Your website’s existing rank with Google and a brand-specific search could have your coupon code landing page ranking high on the list.

Don’t be afraid to offer coupon codes to your shoppers, if someone is shopping for the best deal in town, shouldn’t it be YOUR deal?

Is Your Website Ready for the New Year? 5 Things You Need to Update

2015All year long you’ve been working on online marketing efforts, putting time and money into your website. We are sure 2014 has been one of your best years ever.

As you head into 2015 and plan to make this next year even better, there are a few items to focus on to meet your new business goals. So we polled our experts and looked back through our archives this year to bring you the top 5 things to think about for your website in 2015

  1. Responsive Design

If your website is not easily accessed from or adaptable to any mobile device, or if you’ve been using mobile workarounds, or if you hear the term “responsive design” and say “huh?” then it’s absolutely time for a change.

(Seriously. We cannot emphasize this one enough.)

With more and more customers approaching access to the Web fluidly from any device, it’s more important than ever that your information and products be accessible and viewable on any screen.

Not only is the user experience of responsive design important, but there are SEO and business benefits as well. In fact, Google recommends responsive design for your website.

Want to learn more? Our TKGeniuses have covered responsive design in depth over the last year. Take a look:

An Introduction to Responsive Design

How TKG Integrates Responsive Design

How Responsive Design Impacts Online Marketing

Responsive Design Tips

SEO Benefits to Responsive Design

  1. Updated Online Marketing Tactics

No matter how good your online marketing strategy is currently working for you, it’s always wise to review your efforts and update them if necessary.

For example, you might place an emphasis on customer service in your business and have your 800 number prominently displayed in your utility navigation on your website. But have you thought about capturing customers sooner with the added convenience of live chat?

Or what about the use of opt-in SMS messaging for coupons or reminders? Sending some of your online ad budget toward Clickbank or Commission Junction? Custom landing pages for specific articles or capture opportunities (e.g. grabbing customers from a trade show)? YouTube, Facebook or Twitter ads? Sponsored Pins on Pinterest? Instagram contests?

If you have an idea, a niche audience or an upcoming campaign, consider tactics that may not have once been a part of your regular online marketing strategy.

Just to get you started, here are a few articles from TKGenius:

Why Manufacturers Should Consider E-Commerce

The New Shift in Online Marketing Trends

3 Reasons Pinterest is Good for Business

Long Tail Ads on YouTube

Keeping Track with Tag Assistant

  1. Clean Up

OK, when was the last time you audited your product listings and made sure every photo was up to date, compelling and showed your product accurately? How about the last time you went through your descriptions and updated them? Or–gasp–are you still listing products you no longer carry?

What about your forms? Are you still using tiny boxes with hard to read fields, or requiring information that makes it hard for customers to fill them out easily?

Do you always remember to update your copyright year on your website? What about your profiles on Social Media? Do they currently reflect your current brand message?

Auditing your site can take time, but is well worth the effort. Here are even more helpful articles from our experts:

Unique Content for Product Descriptions

Product Descriptions that Convert

3 Types of Content to Include In Your Product Descriptions

  1. Messaging

What message is your website REALLY conveying? Is it consistent with your overall brand message?

It’s easy for brands to overlook their messaging online. Cluttered homepages, mis-matched logos across Social profiles, and landing pages that are all text actually detract from your overall message.

We’ve often found that many businesses are really good with their print messaging, but, for whatever reason, this messaging gets lost online. Part of the problem is due to feeling like everything needs to fit on one screen, instead of strategically using content, images, SEO or other tactics to funnel a visitor exactly where you want them.

Making your product or service offering the center of attention and erring on the side of minimalism in your design is actually a better way to convey your message. It’s also easy to employ the use of sidebar stickies or custom slider photos or videos to convey your message. And don’t forget the use of your blog or Social Media to reinforce your message regularly.

And of course:

3 Clever Messaging Tweaks to Grow Your Business

Avoiding Outdated Web Design

Revisiting Website Strategy

Using Video

Improve Conversions with Funneling

  1. Content

Unless you’ve been ignoring the online marketing sphere for, oh, the last eight years or so, you’ve probably heard the term “content” or “content marketing” at some point. But as both consumers, marketers and Google are getting more savvy, regularly publishing compelling content that truly reflects your brand and your message is more important than ever.

So does your content truly show your brand’s personality? Is it communicating your message and promotions clearly? Is it relatable and easy to understand? Does it work in harmony on all your channels? Does it include all types of content, especially multi-media?

Here are just a few articles (of the many) to help you create your best year ever in content:

21 Tips to Make Your Content Marketing More Effective

5 Ways to Use Content to Increase Engagement

What To Do With Past Content

How to Market Your Content Off-Site

3 Inspiring Creative Content Marketing Campaigns

We want 2015 to be your best year online yet. Use these last few weeks of 2014 to comb through and evaluate your website and make tweaks (or major changes!) if needed.