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Google’s Continued Mobile Evolution

26 Aug

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Google’s Latest Updates

HandsPhones_Banner_8.25.16

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

We’re getting closer to the day when we no longer separate or distinguish traffic by     device type—when the word “mobile” as an adjective becomes a thing of the past.       Google has been and continues to push forward changes intended to enhance the mobile user experience; consequently, it has become the standard for many web designers to take a “mobile-first” design approach. This week’s announcements are not likely a big surprise to most, but as digital marketers, we do need to take note of them.

First, and most importantly, Google officially published that in January 2017 they will begin evaluating popups and interstitials (aka “interrupters”) to determine whether or not they are too obtrusive to the user experience. If they determine interstitials are in fact too obtrusive, the website will not rank as highly. There are still ways to do interstitials, but it will need to be carefully executed to ensure the mitigation of risk. This is not a blanket statement or policy against popups and interstitials, but one that is focused directly on user experience. There are many tactics for utilizing them that sites currently employ that will not be impacted by this update as they don’t pop up until multiple pages have been visited or after a long enough delay, so as not to negatively impact the initial experience after landing on a mobile page from search results. Note that Google will be looking for this when indexing pages and judging the experience of users coming from a search results page.

We know that the initial experience for a user is important to Google (and should be important to us as well as webmasters), as Google does factor page load times into search rankings. There have also been debates in the past about Google’s use of stats on users bouncing back to the search results page quickly after clicking on a result as a negative factor for rankings (I won’t get into the heated SEO debate on that in this article).

The second and less significant update posted by Google this week is encouraging. With the “Mobilegeddon” event being far enough into the past, Google is now going to remove the “mobile-friendly” tag from mobile search results, as nearly 85% of sites qualify. This is a minor move and continued evolution of mobile becoming the norm in search results.

To read Google’s full announcement, click here.

If you missed my article last week about the significant Google AdWords change to text ad formats (also driven by mobile usage), you can read about that topic here.

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3 Tips for Using Video to Market Building Materials

21 Jul

Film Industry

Video can be a highly effective element in your digital marketing efforts. Why try to tell your customers about your building products when you can show them? Technology is also driving the trend in video. With more and more customers accessing the web through mobile, video has become increasingly important.

To get the best results, keep these video marketing tips in mind:

  1. Choose the right length for the medium and the customer.
    Videos that are too short may not provide enough information. When videos are too long, there is a risk of prospects getting bored and navigating away before they are finished. Videos intended for prospects new to your brand should be short. Experts say that videos for Facebook should be two to three minutes. On YouTube, you can gain traction with videos anywhere from one to five minutes in length. To reach customers further down the sales funnel, try in-depth videos that thoroughly explain the value and applications of your products
  2. Get to the action quickly.
    You only have seconds to gain prospects’ interest. Instead of starting with a long introduction, consider jumping straight into the action. Begin with an arresting visual or a surprising fact about your product. By drawing people in quickly, you get the chance to keep them watching and convince them to check out your brand.
  3. Use a mix of video types.
    How-to and explainer videos can show your customers how your products perform in the real world. Testimonial videos allow your prospects to hear for themselves what your happy customers have to say about your products and services. Product showcase videos allow your customers to get a better look at what you are offering than they can get with still photos and text descriptions. By including a range of types of content, you can give prospects more of the information that they are looking for.

Video gives you a chance to connect with busy professionals who don’t have the time to read marketing materials or who prefer to get information in an audio/visual format. By adding this type of content to your marketing mix, you can reach a wider array of prospects and show them just how your products can work for them.

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Oh Snap!

30 Jun

Is Snapchat the Next B2B Marketing Tool for Your Brand?

Snapchat-large

For those who aren’t familiar with the mobile app, Snapchat, it is a multimedia app with more than 100 million users, that allows you to send brief digital content for in-the-moment experiences.

The challenge that marketers face today, whether it be B2B or B2C, is that you have to be involved with all of the different social media platforms in order to evolve. Many people fail to see how Snapchat can be another tool for B2B marketers, or do not take it seriously as a mainstream content contender, but they could be seriously missing out. Snapchat is not likely going away anytime soon, so to simply ignore it and say “well, that’s not where my customers are,” is simply an oversight, because whether they are on Snapchat for business or personal reasons, they are still there engaging with your brand. I recently heard the Global CMO for GE, Linda Boff, speak at #BMA16 and loved her point that:

     “Customers don’t log on to a different internet at night.”

With Snapchat being one of the fastest growing platforms out there, it provides your company the opportunity to better understand your audiences’ changing needs and desires and to get a summary on what has happened in the last 24 hours. Just this month, the app released a new API that will not only enable brands to purchase 10-second video slots, but will also allow your business to track who is coming into contact with your brand’s experience on Snapchat.

Now, what can B2B companies utilize it for? Most of the time social media platforms all get lumped together and treated as the same, when in reality, they accomplish and approach things in very different ways. How you communicate on Facebook is different from Pinterest, which is different from Snapchat—and people go to those channels for a different purpose. Facebook is more of a browsing, news and social outlet whereas Pinterest is very purposeful and very niche for different individual interests. Snapchat is a different way for you to communicate who your brand is through creation of stories that will add value to your audience. Understanding how to use the platform will make it easier for you to create appropriate content.

People no longer want bullet points from companies on the features and benefits of your product and why it’s so amazing. With so much parody in products and price, you cannot break through to customers without providing something different and showing that you are a brand that can engage with them.

It is important to recognize that with platforms such as Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram, B2B marketers need to start acting like media companies. Snapchat really isn’t a space for traditional and glossy advertisements, it is a source for creating awareness and experience for your brand because your audience has become more savvy and are aware when they are being “sold to.”

Snapchat is very experiential, very in the moment and therein lies the major opportunity. So, if you’re at a tradeshow, or a conference, or you are doing a demo, you can post behind-the-scene videos and pictures to invite your audience into that experience.

How do people interact with your product? B2B has a lot of manufacturing involved; if you are in that space, seeing how a machine works, how it provides a solution, how it makes somebody’s life easier—you can show that visually with a video, a picture, you could time stamp it, or you could create your own geofilter. If you’re a larger corporation and seeking to humanize your brand, then you can find ways to further build on a relationship with your audience. Is the CEO going to engage in a 10-second Snap that will resonate with who your brand is and create personality for your brand? The options are limitless and the rule book is out the window.

While Snapchat may not be the end-all-be-all for your marketing approach, its strong digital profile can organically create a sense of content urgency like no other platform. Because of the way content disappears after 24 hours, and keeps the length of stories very short, consumers are more likely to keep coming back for more.

Lastly, the assumption that Snapchat is primarily for millennial entertainment purposes does not discount the app’s value from a business standpoint. Millennials are becoming more and more active in the industry and they will continue to seek information and entertainment through channels that they know. A recent survey found that Snapchat is more popular than Facebook among 72 percent of millennials. It is important to play the long-game and plan for the future, because while Millennials may not be your biggest customer segment, they will become that in the future, and what they’ll remember is how your brand’s experience made them feel through its social presence.

Whether your B2B brand is geared toward the building industry, healthcare professionals, or something else entirely, developing and utilizing a consistent Snapchat strategy will create brand loyalty and can generate awareness through engaging your audience with unique content.

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ADA Website Compliance: Get Ahead Before You’re Behind

26 Feb

design

New ADA Regulations Could Affect Your Website Design Practices

Corey1Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

For a long time, the only constant related to the web and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been confusion. Recent news and information floating around has caused many companies and web development firms to consider changes to website design and development practices to ensure compliance. Are we finally about to get clarity on the topic?

This topic has been discussed for years with many predictions of future actions with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and proposed amendments to ADA guidelines. For years, government organizations, some publicly traded organizations, educational institutions, and other entities have been concerned with ensuring their websites are ADA compliant. The bulk of other industries and focuses have worried only about certain usability aspects. Now, industry professionals are predicting that everyone will soon be required to comply with the ADA or face the penalties associated with breaking the law.

At this point I feel compelled to include a disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer and nothing in this post or on this site constitutes legal advice. I’m in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to rethinking how we build websites to ensure that all businesses, regardless of industry or sector are ADA compliant to the right standard.

Until now, many of us have followed the lead of Google in pushing for all image and video content to be labeled or marked up in a way that is friendly for the visually impaired by utilizing screen reading software. We have also emphasized rendering content in a user-friendly way for all sizes of screens and types of devices. And these have been great improvements—but we’re finding that they aren’t enough to meet the potential new standard.

While there has been a lot of talk and speculation about what the new standard will be and when it will be officially adopted, the consensus that I (and colleagues I’ve spoken with) have found is on WCAG 2.0 Level AA. That is a specific standard and level defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that works to define standards for the web. This level of ADA compliance would require a decent amount of work for a lot of existing websites. But when integrated into design and development processes for new websites, it won’t add too much extra effort in the long-run.

The two biggest challenges that I see for digital marketers are:

  1. Finding a way to get our sites ready for the potential April DOJ mandate
  2. Finding the budget to invest to update existing sites in a cost-effective way.

The more you read, the more uncertainty you’ll find regarding predictions for what is going to happen. Interestingly, the DOJ has chosen not to amend ADA guidelines in the past, but has taken enforcement action. Regardless of all of the speculation and confusion out there, the time is now to start considering where your web properties stand regarding ADA compliance and start determining how your organization will prepare for these new standards, whether they are officially adopted or left to be just guidelines.

References and Further Reading:

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10 Trade Show Tips That Speak for Themselves

22 Dec

Be in the Know Before the Show

Trade Show Gift

When you’ve been in the building products industry for long enough, you learn some valuable lessons about attending a trade show and making the most of your time there. That’s how I know that every year, January marks more than just the start of the new year—it’s also the start of what we in the building products industry call “trade show season.”

Trade shows are fun and an  teffective way to meet prospects; they’re also hectic and crazy. Over the years, I’ve lost count of all the trade shows I’ve attended, but the lessons learned have stuck with me.

I’ve compiled a quick list of tips for attending a trade show that need no further explanation:

  1. Follow all the handles/hashtags for the event to keep current—before, during, and after an event.
  2. Visit the website before the show to view the map against the schedule of speakers you’d like to attend. Don’t be that freshman who schedules back-to-back classes across campus.
  3. Download the app for the show beforehand (if they have one).
  4. Wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be walking. Hint: if your feet are hurting, seek out the booths that paid extra for carpet padding.
  5. Bring enough business cards.
  6. Have a plan for how you’re going to follow up with the prospects you meet. Then, follow through with it.
  7. Pack a backup phone battery and bring it with you. Thank me later.
  8. Don’t be that guy who eats your lunch at a table in a booth. Sit with prospects and meet new people.
  9. Know how long it takes to get to the nearest bathroom and back so you don’t miss something important.
  10. Wi-Fi isn’t always a given. Plan accordingly.

I’ve had to learn some of these lessons the hard way—but follow these tips and you won’t have to. Consider it my trade show season gift to you.

For more trade show tips and tricks, see my last roundup post here.

Bonus tip for those who made it to the bottom of this post: If you take nothing else away from this, remember that the Lowe’s booth always has fresh-baked cookies. Just be careful not to burn your mouth if they’re fresh out of the oven.

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