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4 Questions Small Businesses Should Ask About Your Website

16 May


In some ways, the features that make a website a good website vary from one small business to the next. Every small business serves a unique market, and your website should reflect that. But there are a few key basics that every small business should demand in their website regardless of market if you want to be competitive in your market.

Whether you already have a website or are thinking of getting a new one, these are the key questions you should be asking:


  1. SEO?  While optimizing your site so it appears high on the list of results that search engines return for their users may sound easy, it’s actually fairly complicated—especially because search engines like Google are constantly changing things to perfect their search algorithm. Are you positive your website is optimized for SEO best practices.
  2. Leads?  Can you prove your website is driving leads for your business? If not, it can be almost impossible for you to understand its cost vs. value. Like any other investment you make as a small business, the numbers should add up. Make sure your site includes a system that allows prospects to enter their information to ask for services and assistance. Lastly, look into pay-per-click (PPC) for your website and determine whether your site has the built-in capabilities to prove where the leads are coming from.
  3. Copy?  Words matter, and they especially matter on your website. So what is your website saying about you? Have you personalized it for your market? Does it convey what makes your company unique and special? Does it make a potential customer trust you? And lastly, are you leveraging keywords effectively so you show up first—and not your local competitors—when potential customers go searching for the products and services you offer?
  4. Products and services?  Does your website effectively display the products and/or services you offer? Are you able to quickly and easily update your site to reflect what is current? If not, are you showing your customers outdated products or services no longer available? Today’s customers want to be able to research their options—this is an easy but important opportunity for you to be their partner in getting the product information they need.


And lastly, a bonus question—do you have a website at all? If not, why don’t you? Better yet, if you have a website, are you putting resources into promoting it via PPC and other services that make you stand out against competitors?

As more and more people turn to the internet to not only find service providers, but to do research and find someone they trust, it becomes that much more important for you to have a strong web presence.

The truth is, if you’re failing any one of these questions, you could potentially be sending potential business prospects to your competitors, even if these prospects would typically already be inclined towards your brand. That’s why it’s important to ask questions regarding your website, whether it’s new or old.

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Plan to Measure What Matters

13 Apr



The “measure what matters” phrase has been around for a long time, but as marketers we can put it into practice more today than in any decade or generation in the past. I have recently had the opportunity to help a prospective client navigate their options when being aggressively pursued to renew a yellow pages agreement. It is a classic example of an outdated marketing tactic, with pressure and confusion being pushed on a small business owner. It’s important to take full advantage of the many effective tactics that can be measured for results in our current era of digital marketing.

You likely have a website and are exposed to at least the basic analytics. Beyond that, you probably have the ability to dive deeper if you want and have access to advice or interpretation of the analytics. However, data doesn’t mean anything without specific goals and analysis – it is just a collection of numbers. If you want to improve the value of your digital marketing and understand how it is impacting sales, there are four specific metrics to track.


1. Traffic

Website traffic is critical to seeing measurable success. The problem is that many companies consider it the end goal. Traffic should be the precursor to the goal of the conversion, which depending on the type of business, conversion can mean a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a white paper download, an email signup, or other identified desired action. If you desire X number of conversions to generate revenue, then you need Y number of website visitors to get there. The conversion rate of your website dictates the number of visitors you need. However, this isn’t a crapshoot. You have control over variables that drive traffic to your site through the various traffic sources.

If you globally have a 2.5% conversation rate, then you can quickly get to the number of website visitors you need to reach your goals or you can invest time and effort into improving your conversion rate (bonus if you can do both). You can see through basic web analytics what the number of visitors is by source and work to further optimize or advertise to push more visitors from each source category.

 2. Activity

Activity is what you’re doing to generate impressions, traffic, and conversions. This is the broadest category to track, but is important. To be able to calculate ROI, you need to measure the cost and resources invested in the activities that drive the other measureable aspects of your digital marketing. This is the time you put into SEO, PPC, social, content marketing, content creation, and other efforts that you invest in through time or through an outsourced vendor. Without measuring this cost, then you can’t fully understand what your true cost of goods sold is or what your cost per lead is.

3. Impressions

Getting less tangible, but still important to gain traffic to drive to conversions is impressions. This can broadly be classified as the number of people who see an ad, see an organic search result featuring your listing, receive an email from you, or otherwise are exposed to your brand. Impressions aren’t guaranteed to be seen by your audience, but is a measure of reach and intended exposure. By pushing to increase your reach and impression-share, you can see what campaign tactics and channels are most likely to drive traffic an ultimately, conversions. Not all traffic channels are created equal and you can quickly see what is driving quality traffic versus just wasting your time and budget dollars.

 4. Goal Conversions

This is the total number of specific conversion actions taken by users driven to your website. Like stated previously, depending on the type of business, this could be a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a whitepaper download, an email signup, an ecommerce sale, or other identified desired action. These are tracked through several sources and can be tied to “goals” in Google Analytics that will allow for reporting by source. You can determine whether organic search, direct, referral, social, or traffic from specific campaigns drove the desired action. For ecommerce sites, you can also pass through sales revenue data so you can see in nearly real-time what you’re making from each traffic channel.

Beyond Google Analytics, you can get granular data from pay-per-click advertising campaigns through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and other paid campaign sources to know what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t know this data, know that it’s “knowable” and work with trusted partners to get it set up for your site, advertising account, analytics platform, etc.

Before launching any campaign–and even during well-established campaigns–we recommend taking a step back quarterly to review metrics in these primary categories and shore up any areas where they are not fully known or detailed. If you can’t measure it, then it can’t matter.


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B2B Marketing on Snapchat and Other Video Sharing Sites

27 Mar




Too many B2B marketing experts are missing the wealth of opportunity that comes from a solid presence on social media sites with a reputation for B2C and personal, non-business content. Savvy marketers recognize that the addition of business analytics to specialized profiles on Instagram and the plethora of articles that detail the business uses of Twitter’s Periscope are more than tangential to the success of these companies; after the initial buzz and funding rounds are over, social media platforms need the business world in order to grow.

Snapchat is no exception; rather, the latest addition to the must-have smart phone app collection is finding a home with brands who want to build stories with their core audience, according to leading social media-centric business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuck.

The Statistics You Need to Know

  • Six out of every 10 users who are online are now on Snapchat.
  • 60% of Snapchat users are currently Millennials between 18-34; however, social media apps that hit the mainstream and achieve satiety will naturally begin to attract an older, more serious demographic.
  • Ads on Snapchat can routinely receive over 1 million views in a single day
  • More than 20% of advertisers plan on using Snapchat moving into 2017

Top Brands Currently Using Snapchat for B2B Business

Many brands you might not think could find an audience on Snapchat are actually leading the charge into the new platform, IBM chief among them. The seminal tech company gives its audience behind the scenes videos to humanize itself. Cisco is not far behind, with its employees taking center stage to provide potential clients with a more personal experience. Purple-haired admins and IT pros will take Cisco’s audience on tours of the office as well as the annual Cisco Crawfish Boil. HubSpot is another leading company that is using Snapchat to send the most salient parts of its industry talks to its audience.

How to Use Snapchat as a Viable B2B Platform

In order to maximize the use of Snapchat, as these leading brands are, you must create something new that is of value to your audience. The unique platform that Snapchat gives you does not lend itself to traditional content, and you should not try to shoehorn the content that you normally create into the space. You can use Snapchat to give people a seat at your table without the need for a business class plane ticket.

Use Snapchat to humanize your business. Companies that do not normally have an inroads to using humor or levity to create business now have the ability to do so. You can utilize the quirky personality of your administrative assistant or mail guy – these become tools that draw people to your message without the need to pay for a Hollywood production.

Tell a story. Snapchat gives you your own cable network for free – you can take the time to tell the stories that will put your company in the best light. Forget crushing a message into a 30-second piece that you must continue to pay for in order to distribute. Snapchat isn’t TV or radio. You determine when the messaging stops. Although each individual video disappears, this is actually an advantage. You leave your audience waiting anxiously for the next installment, and you do not have to put together another $100,000 in order to deliver it.

Snapchat is a platform that you can rely on for high distribution, low cost content creation that will engage your audience in a new way. If you can look past the stereotype of teenage pranks on social media, you will find a treasure trove of opportunity for new business.

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5 Things The MBTI Can Tell Us About Brand Personalities

2 Feb





Guest Contributor: Matt Hillman
Creative Director


If I said that Apple was an INTJ personality or that Ben & Jerry’s was an ENFP, would you know what I mean?

Brand personalities are a common element in better identifying, understanding, and developing established brands. Through founded Mission/Vision/Values, Positioning Statements, and Brand Guidelines, the framework is laid for the brand to present itself in a regular, consistent manner. In short, it develops both a personality profile and “true to type” behavior that—like its human counterparts—are foreseeable. So what can the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the world’s leading personality tool, tell us about brand personalities?

The first real application of the idea of “brand personality” dates back more than 60 years to a 1955 article in the Harvard Business Review  entitled “The Product and the Brand.” In it, the authors suggest that brands can feature some of the same attributes of human personality such as reason, motive, and “complex systems of values and judgements.” Today, brand personality is a core element of how products, services, and organizations are marketed and understood.

Meanwhile, the MBTI is a personality assessment developed by a mother-daughter team who were students of psychologist Carl Jung. It’s based on the ideas of archetypes—fundamental characteristics common to everyone—narrowed down to preferences of how we process information, make decisions, and gather mental energy.

The result is a four-letter combination for each of 16 different “types.” And while it has plenty of detractors, the 60+ year old “Myers-Briggs” is the most utilized personality assessment tool among companies, organizations, and government agencies.

When combined, these two theories can bring about some interesting observations about what it is that makes individual brands tick.

1. Brands can be introverted or extraverted

In the Myers-Briggs, Introversion (I) and Extraversion (E) isn’t about sociability or shyness, but instead how personalities derive their energy—Introverts recharge through solitude, Extraverts through interaction. Similarly, Introverted personalities focus on depth where Extraverts focus on breadth. An introverted brand is likely one that has a singular focus with great depth of understanding; an extraverted brand likely has a shallower approach but with a broad offering. The majority of powerful B2C brands could be characterized as Extraverted, where highly specialized B2B brands would be more Introverted.

2. Brands have value systems

The Myers-Briggs calls the axis of Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) the “judging function” because of its use in decision making. The Thinking preference is rooted in linear logic, in true and false; the Feeling preference makes decisions based on the people involved, in a sense of right and wrong. Thinking brands value facts and efficiency, where Feeling brands value compassion and connection. Thinking brands tend to be operationally and even fiscally successful; Feeling brands tend to have highly loyal, even fanatical, customers.

3. Brands process information in different ways

When it comes to information, how personality types process, or perceive, it falls into two categories: Sensing (S), taking in very detailed, specific data through the senses, and iNtuition (N) where data is processed broadly as symbols or metaphors. A brand with a Sensing preference is likely to be highly detailed and practical—probably a manufacturer or working with data. An iNtuitive brand is focused on “the big picture” and more apt to be a service provider or in product development.

4. Different brands react differently

You probably have seen brands that have it all buttoned up with a plan for everything; you’ve probably also seen brands that seem to roll with the punches, adapting as they go. This is what the Myers-Briggs calls Judging (J) and Perceiving (P). Those with the J preference are those who plan ahead and seek order, where those preferring P are improvisers who are more spontaneous. Brands in the Perceiving camp tend to develop (or fail) in leaps & bounds, where Judging brands are more likely to have a long-term approach that’s slower but steady.

5. There is no right or wrong type

Mostly importantly, just as with people, there is no right type or wrong type. Each type has a list of great and unique strengths, balanced by a list of weaknesses and blind spots. It’s less about being the “best type” and more about understanding the amazing superpowers each type possesses. And while certain types are better suited for certain tasks—types with the SJ combination are remarkable administrators, NT types natural innovators, etc.—there are always surprising and successful exceptions. Just as in life, the right type in the right situation at the right time can be an unstoppable brand.

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Fifteen Million Dollars or Fifteen Cents – What is the Cost of Web Traffic?

31 Jan







Guest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy


I recently saw in Ad Age that estimated the cost for a 90-second TV ad slot in the Super Bowl to be fifteen million dollars. While a Super Bowl ad goes out to a massive audience on what many consider an unofficial national holiday, it can be hard to measure the full actual impact the spot has on a business. While sitting here with my mind blown about how much work I would put into finding ways to make web traffic from the spot measurable and able to be attributed properly, I started thinking about the differing cost of traffic through specific website traffic channel sources. That led me down an interesting and variable path. In my recent [2016 benchmarking review of the building materials industry] I found some connections that make sense and others that provide for strong predictions of what we’ll see in web traffic at the end of 2017.

The most predictable was that direct traffic (third highest source) and organic traffic (highest source) are both in the top three as traffic drivers. These are two “free” sources of traffic to a website; however, they aren’t really free. There are costs associated with building a brand, sales efforts, and other drivers that cause a website visitor to directly type in a domain name and go to a website. Additionally, while the organic traffic from search engines is free, there are often costs associated with search engine optimization, content development, and website maintenance in external expense or overhead.

The second highest traffic source is paid search traffic. This traffic source is strictly for paid ad traffic to the website from search engines. By default, it is often written off as a more expensive source of traffic by many companies and is not considered. Yet, the evidence continues to suggest that this is an important source of traffic, right after organic search engine traffic. It fills gaps and ensures that as many visitors as possible are captured from search engines. With the removal of the right column of ads in early 2016, it is as important as ever because the ad slots at the top of the search results pages look more like organic results. The beauty about this source is that it has much more visible and self-contained costs than other channels. We know what we are paying in media, what our external or overhead costs are for managing it, and the more small-scale content investment needed for PPC compared to content marketing.

Social media traffic is a small segment, yet it is the most rapidly growing and surpassed email marketing in 2016. Both social media and email marketing fall under the content marketing umbrella in terms of external costs on overhead for internal management plus the need to generate content.

So, where does this all lead us? After running through a lot of different scenarios, looking at different industries, and diving deep into analytics of specific companies, I realized there’s not really a set, objective benchmark target to report or target. The key is to first find out what the true costs of your traffic are by channel. Once you have those numbers and expose all potential hidden costs, then you can calculate the true cost per acquisition for each channel. That will show you how much return you’re getting on your investment in each area so you can make wise decisions when that next budget season comes around or when that new campaign idea comes up.

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