Category Archives: Uncategorized


Lead-GenerationBusinesses are focused on using their websites as a source of new customers. In fact, nearly 50% of B2B buyers indicate that the most likely way they find sales information is to go directly to a supplier website. As a result, companies are investing in site optimization to ensure they have user-focused content designed specifically to convert visitors into inbound sales leads.

Powerful content may include benefits of what you offer, case studies of your products and services, customer testimonials and lots of answers to the key question of ‘Why you?’

So, how well is your site performing in lead generation? Assume that a potential customer has explored the entirety of your website content. You have them excited about starting a sales dialogue with you. How do you translate that excitement into action? Below are several simple guidelines to maximize your inbound lead opportunities on your website.

  • Effective lead capturing requires a proactive mindset – Provide focused attention on the conversion goal right on your home page. Don’t force your visitors to initiate contact.
  • Provide more than your ‘Contact Us’ page – Many websites don’t have effective paths for customer prospects to start the dialogue. By default, it’s often the ‘Contact Us’ page. In many instances, the ‘Contact Us’ page is largely reactive and inadequate as a customer acquisition path. To increase more inbound leads, consider adding more navigation links to your ‘Contact Us’ page as well as strategically place ‘call-to-action’ options on sales-focused content pages.
  • Give visitors a reason to contact you –If the only inbound leads you are getting from your website are from the ‘Contact Us’ page, you might want to consider offering more call-to-action paths. Examples of lead generation call-to-actions include scheduling a sales demo, joining a webinar, getting a quote and signing up for a special offer.
  • Don’t rely solely on form submissions – Adding call-to-action (CTA) options such as call tracking or live chat can be very effective in generating incremental leads. In fact, many consider it a competitive advantage for visitors to have multiple contact options to consider when converting interest into lead generation.
  • Respond promptly – Once customer interest has been sparked, it’s up to you to respond and satisfy the initial itch. If you don’t, then a competitor eventually will.

Your inbound website leads are like gold, and there are simple measures to consider assuring you’re maximizing lead engagement on your website. First of all, make sure you’re utilizing every possible CTA option in maximizing lead generation opportunities on your website. Secondly, make sure you’re enabling your sales team to capitalize on the inbound leads you’re generating. Be proactive with your website so it delivers the results you’re looking for.  Maximize your lead opportunities!

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Parallax Web Design: What I Think

parralax scrollingThe other day I was chatting with one of my buddies and he asked me, “hey Andrew – as a web guy, what do you think of the moving scrolly stuff that sites are doing now?”  He was speaking of the emerging design technique called Parallax scrolling as seen on some new highly visible websites such as Spotify, Sony, and dare I say, Google?  So I gave him my 2 cents and thought, “I should write that down.”  So here I am, writing it down!

Generally speaking, I like Parallax Scrolling.  I believe it’s taking web design to the next level and raising the bar, forcing agencies to rethink their “best-practices” and to continue innovating with the web.  However, I also believe there are right and wrong situations to use Parallax Scrolling.

First, let me speak to the technical side of this new technique.  It uses HTML5 and javascript to achieve a vertical, scrolling, storytelling experience.  Usually, content is presented to the visitor in a linear fashion displaying one topic at a time and in the order that’s the most intuitive depending on the subject matter.  HTML5 is key here in maintaining search engine credibility as it allows content to be separated into <section> tags, each section allowing their own <h1>’s to head each topic.  This allows search engines to take into account each section as a relevant topic of content that this web page covers.  It’s almost as if HTML5 were built for this kind of content presentation!  What this also does is keep a very consistent experience on any device.  Mobile devices work best when scrolling top to bottom, so this allows desktops to adopt the same usability and presentation via the “mobile first” design trend.

So from a technical standpoint, there aren’t any hangups in my book.  This brings us to the question, “when should Parallax Scrolling be used?”  I find it to be most effective under several circumstances:

  1. When content is more important than functionality
  2. When controlling the order by which content presented is of particular importance
  3. When there’s a definitive conversion required at the end of the presentation

Put simply, Parallax Scrolling is best used when the page is dedicated to telling a story of some kind.  If we look to our examples above, we see just that.  Sony is telling the story of their new “Be Moved” campaign.  A visitor may not know anything about it at the start, so Sony can safely present the information one topic at a time to fully explain the story bit by bit, without confusion.  Similarly, the Google Nexus 5 page tells the story of their new Nexus 5 smartphone and what makes it stand out from the crowd.  Google highlights each point of the new phone starting with the basics, then getting into each aspect of the phone that consumers are looking for, ordered by importance. Lastly, Spotify – if a visitor doesn’t know what Spotify is or how it works (for shame!) they can simply scroll down to learn all of the bullets that make it great without being overwhelmed with blocks of text and competing elements.

So when should we NOT use Parallax Scrolling?

  1. When functionality is essential.  I suspect that you won’t be seeing any workable Parallax user interfaces for some time.
  2. When several different topics need to be presented at once.  I don’t believe you’ll see any popular news website benefit from this technique.
  3. When ads need to have a home.  Parallax is so clean, ads just muck up the whole idea.

I’m certain that there are more reasons pro and against using Parallax in certain situations, but these should cover the biggest areas for concern.

So, back to my conversation with my buddy.  As I relayed this information to him, he was unimpressed and is thoroughly set on hating Parallax scrolling in any incarnation.  Ah well, not everyone can be convinced!  Let me know what you think about Parallax scrolling in the comments below.

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5 Ways Businesses Are Using Creative Content to Increase Engagement

If you are a business on social media, chances are you are always looking for new ways to boost engagement. When you want to increase your likes, shares and comments without increasing your social media budget, your best bet is to develop creative and unexpected content.

Here are five ways that successful brands have leveraged creative content to increase customer engagement:

  1. Dove tugs on your heartstrings – The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty utilizes creative advertising strategies like the ultra-popular Real Beauty Sketches video to change women’s perceptions of beauty.These viral marketing tactics are more than just shallow ploys for likes and shares. Dove delivers sharable content that shows a profound understanding of its target audience.
  2. Lays wants to know what you think – The original Lays Do Us a Flavor contest was one of the most successful and recognizable examples of user-generated content in social media history. The contest asked users to invent new potato chip flavors and vote to keep to best flavors around.Although the Do Us a Flavor campaign was great at generating engagement, the caveat to user-generated content is that it typically requires a pretty hefty incentive for participation (In this case, a $1 million cash prize).
  3. Coca-Cola stops you in your tracks – The Coca-Cola Happiness Machine surprises customers with free drinks and other unexpected gifts. This unique vending machine forces customers to stop what they are doing and share some happiness with the people around them.Coca-Cola brilliantly uses hidden cameras to document these happiness exchanges and publishes the videos on YouTube. These videos help spread Coca-Cola happiness and engagement in the social space.
  4. Arby’s and Oreo watch what you watch – Real-time content creation helps users see brands as more relevant members of their social communities. Who can forget the Oreo dunk in the dark tweet, or Arby’s genius response to Pharrell’s hat at the 2014 Grammy’s?The catch with real time marketing is that you should only interact during events that make sense for your brand; otherwise you might end up confusing your audience.
  5. Taco Bell has a life of its own – When brands have strong personalities on social media; they are able to build lasting relationships with their target audience. Taco bell knows that it is a fast-food restaurant and its audience is not super interested in gluten or calorie counting. It embraces this persona and runs with it in all of its communication.A little personification can go a long way in developing brand loyalty. Customers and social media users want brands to post content they can relate to, and Taco Bell totally nails it.

Social media users won’t engage with content just because a brand follows best practice guidelines. Users want to engage with brands that understand them, and produce content that makes them feel something. Creative content is a quick and effective way to boost engagement, as long as you do it in a way that makes sense for your brand.

Google Analytics Basics: What Devices Are Your Site Visitors Using?

Knowing whether your visitors are using a smartphone or desktop computer to browse your site is an extremely important piece of information. Analyzing device data in Google Analytics can provide you with helpful insight regarding how you should lay content out on your site as well as how it should be developed.

Want to know how to get this data? Follow these quick steps!

  1. Login to your Google Analytics account and go to the profile you’re interested in viewing.
  2. Click on the “Audience > Mobile > Overview” tab in the left hand column. This overview tab will tell you whether your visitors are using a desktop computer, mobile phone or a tablet.

If you want to dig deeper, click on the “Audience > Mobile > Devices tab in the left hand column. This devices tab will break down the mobile traffic down by specific device, i.e. iPhone vs. Droid.


Once you know what devices visitors are using to access your site, you can make smarter decisions about what kind of information might be important to them and how to best lay it out. TKG believes that all sites should be designed responsively, so that no matter what screen size or device someone is using, they will have the best possible experience on your site – and this data can help you figure out what that best experience is.

Want to learn more about Google Analytics? See my previous post on Sessions vs. Pageviews, and stay tuned for more great tips! Prefer an in person session? Join us in person at TKG’s Google Analytics Basics Breakfast Bootcamp on August 21st . Click here to register for this FREE session! I look forward to meeting you!

Epic Content Marketing: 5 Key Elements You Need to Know

joe pulizziI mentioned a few weeks ago the privilege I had to hear Joe Pulizzi speak at the Interaction Marketing Summit hosted by The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron. Pulizzi’s approach toward outcome merited its own blog post, but I wouldn’t ever want to discount the epic message that he conveyed during the event.

So if you have a website, you have content. But what exactly is that content doing? Is it sitting stagnant? Is it fodder for your next Facebook post? According to Pulizzi, 90% of all companies are doing some form of content marketing, but sadly only 40% believe that their content is successful. And let’s face it, at least 10% of those people are painfully optimistic (but that’s my own deduction).

So how DO you become a successful content marketer? According to Pulizzi, if you follow these five key elements, you will be on your way to successful content marketing.

  1. Sales, Savings & Sunshine – This is the WHY question that should be applied to your content strategy. Just because everyone else has a Facebook page doesn’t make it the best platform for your business. So as you are generating your content and pushing it out, be sure to ask WHY. Does your eNewsletter initiate sales, savings or sunshine?
    • Sales – content that generates revenue
    • Savings – content that saves money
    • Sunshine – content that makes your customers feel good
  2. Create a Content Marketing Mission Statement – Does your business have a mission statement? Are you living up to that mission? Are your content efforts supporting your mission?
    • Audience – Establish your core target audience and know your niche.
    • Delivery – What will your message deliver? Does it have a purpose?
    • Outcome – Add an outcome column to your content strategy. What is the outcome for the audience?
  3. Don’t Build Your Content Ship on Rented Land – Yep, we’re talking about Facebook (mostly). We’ve all seen our Facebook engagement drop over the past few months. But don’t turn Facebook into your content marketing scapegoat.
    • Customer Data – Know your customer base. Collect customer data, work with your IT department and learn how to gather that customer data that is so valuable to your content message.
    • Focus on your subscribers – What is the difference between those who subscribe to your eNewsletters and your one-off customers?
  4. Leverage Influencers and then Build an Audience – This doesn’t mean hire the mayor for your next car dealership commercial, but if the mayor buys a car from your lot, talk about it, tweet about it, blog about it. If you own a local business, don’t be afraid to tweet to local celebrities, a simple Retweet or Mention can lead to a big boost in followers and can help to spread your message.
    • Make a list – Find 5-10 influencers to target and find ways to incorporate them into your content strategy.
    • It isn’t all about YOU – We find this far too often with social media. Sure, your product or service is awesome and you want to shout it from the rooftop – but try to follow the 4:1:1 rule. Simply put, the rule means that for every one self-promoting tweet, blog post or status update, you should share four new pieces of content and one re-share.
  5. Open Up Your Wallet – This one kind of gave me shivers when I first saw it, but I get it.
    • Pay to Play - As much as we scoff at the idea of boosting our Facebook post just so people who ALREADY like our page can see it, pay to play is becoming the new normal. And do you know what? It’s working. People who pay to boost their posts are getting more engagement when they pay to play, even within their existing audience.
    • Build vs. Buy – Are you looking to expand your market? Before you start from scratch, consider a buy-out. Acquisitions are becoming more popular for brand expansion, even on the local level.

So this was a lot of information, right? Before you dive in head first and wind up flailing around calling for a life preserver, consider starting out slowly. Take one or two of these ideas and perfect them. It might take a few months, it might take a year. Once you have those tactics perfected, add another and another, until your content is truly epic.

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Social Business News Wrap | Volume 41

What is Your Social Business Strategy?

We’ve been talking a lot about the differences between Social Business and Social Media…this week a really good study was released by Pivot and Social Business Strategies gave a really good rundown on what aspects of social business are important, how they affect your ROI and what your next steps should be in the social business realm if you have yet to dip your toes in. Pivot

In this report you will find that marketers are starting to realize:

  • how conversations affect their brand
  • that sales still matter, but engagement matters more
  • insight and content are now more important than deals
  • that the executive buy in for social business has risen
  • Facebook and Twitter still dominateSocial Consumers

Social business is becoming so much more than just posting coupons and deals to Facebook or Twitter. It is becoming just “business”.  If you are looking for guidance in this area, I am pretty sure we have some folks who can help you out. It’s time to get started.

Twitter TV Ads for Targeted Audiences

Twitter has announced that TV ad targeting is available throughout the US. Releasing it in beta back in May, TV ad targeting has proven more successful than just TV ads alone. In a quote from the blog, Twitter’s Michael Fleischman states that,

“During a handful of studies, users that Twitter identified as being exposed on TV and then engaged with a Promoted Tweet demonstrate 95% stronger message association and 58% higher purchase intent compared to users identified as being exposed on TV alone.”

Introducing TV Ad Targeting on Twitter


Honestly, I though I could let this one go, but then I started reading about how many brands exploited the birth of the #royalbaby to get traffic, and even sales. Brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Oreo, Charmin and many others all jumped on the #royalbaby hashtag bandwagon.

Once Kate entered the hospital, the hashtag #royalbaby was used 2 Million times. Mostly by well wishers, some by sickos, and some buy those hashtagging in hope of making a few bucks off the whole thing. Sad? Pathetic? Smart and current? What’s your take? Do you use somewhat voyeuristic news and hashtags to get traffic?

The Social Business News Wrap | Volume 32

Techies Make Forbes’ List of 100 Most Powerful WomenForbes' 100 Most Powerful Women

I’ve noticed that a lot of my blog posts tend to be about women. Not so much this series as my Home Based Businesses series, but it’s there. This week is no different. I have to give a little shout out to the tech professionals, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandburg. Sixteen technical professionals have made Forbes’ list of the 100 Most Powerful Women.

Now, I am no big feminist in the sense that it tends to be interpreted today, but I think it is pretty impressive that these sixteen women (most of whom are American) have not only broken into the tech field which I think most would say was heavily dominated by men not so long ago, but have become so successful as to be included on this list that includes world leaders and so many “firsts”.

She’s the first: Forty percent  of the women on the list are “female firsts,” such as African head of state (Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf), billionaire to sign The Giving Pledge (Sara Blakeley), and CEO at IBM (Ginni Rometty). Even more impressive are a the women who are multiple “firsts,” such as Judith Rodin, first president of an Ivy League and of the Rockefeller Foundation. And Hillary Clinton.”

The women from the tech field that have made the list are:

  • Sheryl Sandburg, Facebook COO, #6
  • Virginia Rometty, IBM CEO, #12
  • Ursula Burns, Xerox Chairman and CEO, #14
  • Meg Whitman, HP CEO, #15
  • Safra Catz, Oracle CFO, #23
  • Susan Wojcicki, Google Senior Vice President, #30
  • Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, #32
  • Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson Collective Founder & Chair, #39
  • Cher Wang, HTC Co-Founder and Chair, #46
  • Padmasree Warrior, Cisco Systems Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, #57
  • Amy Hood, Microsoft SFO, #63
  • Sun Yafang,  Chair – Huawei Technologies, #77
  • Kiran Madzudmar-Shaw, Biocon Ltd. Founder & Chair, #85
  • Weili-Dai, Co-Founder Marvell Technology Group, #88

 Twitter Cards…Are You Using Them?

Twitter announced a new product for lead generation earlier this week. The Twitter card program from a year ago have been expanded and updated as more and more brands turn to social media for advertising.

The Twitter Advertising Blog released a statement about the update to Twitter Cards, “When someone expands your Tweet, they see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username, and email address are already pre-filled within the Card. The user simply clicks a button to send this information directly (and securely) to you.”

If you’d like to get started using Twitter cards for your brand, the developers board has a great little tutorial as well as a starting point, making it easy for brands to extend their reach on the Twitter platform.

As of right now the Lead Generation card is only available to Twitter’s managed clients, but that will probably change as demand grows.

How are you leveraging Twitter for your brand?

Taking Dell Private

steve_dell_adRemember the year 2002?

Dell had their “Dell Dude” peddling PC’s by the boat load, Windows XP was still young and vibrant, and Palm Inc. had just figured out how to cram a PDA into a phone!

Well, those days are over…

The “Dell Dude” got fired for smoking pot, Windows XP got long in the tooth making way for Vista, and Palm no longer exists.  Oh how times change in the tech industry and I think we are at the precipice of one such shift.


Dell recently announced that founder Michael S. Dell will be purchasing his brain child back from the shareholders that helped run his baby into the ground with the help from the ever-so-jovial Steve Balmer and company.

This creates a conundrum of sorts, because Microsoft has notoriously been an independent vendor working with OEM partners, and now Microsoft has not only created its own hardware (Surface and Surface Pro), but now it’s willfully investing capital into an OEM (Monopoly anyone?).  While this hasn’t caught the eye of the shadowy overlords at the SEC it should be sounding alarms over at HP and Lenovo.

Only once before have we seen Microsoft dump money into a startup – yes we should look at Dell as a startup with their new lease on life, because it would be foolish not to run it as one given this glorious opportunity.   Apple got a large chunk of change from Bill Gates shortly after the second coming of Steve Jobs in 1997, and 16 years later things are still looking pretty good for Apple; however, this latest round of Microsoft financing could put strain on the working relationship between Microsoft and it’s other OEM partners.

The case with Apple was different because Microsoft was not the driving force behind their entire product ecosystem as is the case with Dell.  Microsoft just saw the Mac platform as a means to an end so they could foster competition in the PC industry (pretty sure the folks in Redmond are kicking themselves now…) to advert intense probing from the SEC.

Dell is not on the brink of death, but I’m sure the argument could be made that Microsoft is trying to pump new life into the aging PC industry, but is it really necessary?  PC’s aren’t going anywhere anytime soon or ever, and we are currently seeing the masses moving towards tablets and mobile phones.  Maybe it’s time for Microsoft to back off of the PC and focus on mobile devices?  They clearly have a desire to move towards mobile devices given their forte for the Metro UI, so why force it onto a PC with a keyboard and mouse?

Everything I have mentioned points to one issue Microsoft has right now… They don’t know who they are, and where they want to go as a company – which is funny because their slogan used to be “Where do you want to go today?”   They need to focus!  Do they want to keep their investment in Dell or have their own hardware line? Either way they are alienating their other OEM customers.

The Social Business News Wrap on #TKGenius | Volume 17

Twitter Buys Bluefin Labs

Twitter announced this week via the Twitter blog that is has acquired Bluefin Labs, which is a company that connects social media and television advertising.  You know, when you are social TV watching TV and are annoyed at the suggested #hashtags popping up on the screen? Yeah – those guys. Anyway, Bluefin has been purchased by Twitter, which actually makes a great deal of sense – these two will go hand in hand, as most of Bluefin’s social media (a whopping 95%) on behalf of it’s clients is with Twitter.

Twitter and Bluefin each released statements about the purchase.  Twitter saying that while they will continue to honor the contracts Bluefin already has, they will not be taking on any new clients.

“We intend to honor existing Bluefin customer contracts, but we will not continue to sell Bluefin’s product suite beyond the existing contracts.”

Bluefin’s statement focused on the acquisition and how it will fit into Twitter (and Twitter’s recent deal with Nielson) and improve social TV.

Twitter aquires Bluefin“While our products have always included data from multiple social media services, the reality is that Twitter is the platform where the overwhelming majority ­– about 95% – of public real-time engagement with TV happens. So we couldn’t be more excited to join Twitter.”

Social TV – you’ve noticed it, perhaps you’ve even participated in it. Do you go check out Twitter when you see a hashtag on the screen? Do you join discussions on Twitter about a favorite show or perhaps even a product? Let us know in the comments how you feel about “Social TV”  – do you use the suggested hashtags to see what everyone else is saying or do you see what is trending?

Technorati releases it’s 2013 Digital Influence Report TechnoratiMedia-Logo-01

Technorati, one of the largest social media ad networks released it’s annual report on “Digital Influence”. This report replaces their “State of the Blogosphere” which had been a social media staple for the last 10 years.

This year’s report is more of a culmination of all things social media. It was compiled with the findings of 1,200 consumers, 150 brand marketers, and 6,000 influencers. Influencers meaning bloggers and other top social media users.

The Technorati study finds that “Sixty percent of brand marketers predict an average increase of 40 percent in social spend for 2013.” While not entirely surprising, this data tells us that social media is important,  and growing even though the consumers tend to rely more on blogs and influencers of that nature before Twitter and Facebook ads.

“Currently, the bulk of brands’ overall digital spend goes to display advertising, search and video, with spending on social, including influencer outreach, making up only 10 percent of their total digital spend. Within their social budget, more than half goes to Facebook, followed by YouTube and Twitter, with the remaining 11 percent of their social spend going to blogs and influencers….

…Though blogs and influencers don’t get a large portion of brands’ digital spend, they rank high with consumers for trust, popularity and influence. When making overall
purchase decisions, for consumers, blogs trail only behind retail and
brand sites.”

So while spending a good portion of your 2013 marketing budget on social media advertising and other efforts, be mindful that the blog is still a very powerful tool for selling your brand.

You can click he link above  to read the 34 page report yourself, or just get the lowdown. Either way, it’s news you need to stay ahead in the social media game.

What percentage of your marketing budget are you targeting for social media this year? Is a blog part of your overall marketing effort?


Putting the Client Spotlight on BAM! Healthy Cuisine is making me hungry!

BAM! Pizza 2I have spent some time writing posts and sharing information about clients that I believe are using Social Media effectively in their marketing campaigns. And the examples I have used demonstrate the effectiveness of being on multiple sites to get the word out. But this month I am going to share some info about a client of ours, BAM! Healthy Cuisine, who concentrate their efforts on their website and their Facebook page, which is enough to make me run and find my keys so I can take an early lunch.

It makes sense today to be visible all around the web, and everyone wants their presence to reach across multiple platforms. But if you pick just one platform you might want to remember what your parents probably told you as a kid.  “If it is worth doing, then it is worth doing well!”  Or maybe it was just my parents.  But that is exactly how Ashley is approaching her Social Media presence with her Facebook page for BAM! Healthy Cuisine.

If you haven’t had lunch yet, and live in the North Canton area, check out the BAM! Healthy Cuisine Facebook page, then get in your car and head over there for lunch. The delicious food Ashley and her team prepare in the kitchen translates so well in her photographs that I can almost see the steam rising from the dishes on my monitor, and it makes my mouth water. And with almost 2000 likes on their page, you know I’m not the only person in the area that thinks this way.

They not only run daily pizza specials, they show them to you right as they are coming out of the oven.  And if there was a way to taste their food using Facebook, you know Ashley would be all over it.  You can see the care and attention to detail they put in every dish, and her presentation is beautiful. And if you are out looking for a healthy alternative to the barrage of fast food in the area then you have chosen the right place. Fresh local vegetables dominate the menu. If gluten alternatives are on your radar then BAM! Healthy Cuisine has you covered.

BAM! Baja WrapWe have been working with BAM! on their online presence, and have a few new things in store for their website which will be coming soon. And speaking of coming soon, we are looking forward to trying out the new location they are currently building over in the Washington Square area by Walsh University. We can look forward to the Grand Opening sometime this spring, so stay tuned to their Facebook page for more information.

I recommend the Buffalo Chicken Pizza pictured at the top of the post, my favorite!