Humanizing your Digital Strategy

Screen-Shot-2013-07-24-at-3.25.44-PMWe tend to trust our friends more than a business or a brand. So when your friend tells you something about a brand, you’re more likely to believe what they’re telling you rather than when a brand makes a claim. So how do you make your brand more trustworthy? How do we humanize our digital strategies?

Talk like a Person!
Shift your thinking and adjust your messaging to be more relationship focused rather than “salesy”.  Talking to your followers in a way that is not a sales pitch or corporate jargon is much more interesting to them, and they’re more likely to engage with you.

Usabilla reports that 79 percent of digital marketers will increase their content marketing budget in 2016, and 60 percent of marketers see the biggest challenge as producing engaging content. If you’re simply a mobile sales pitch, you’re going to annoy your followers and end up losing customers in the long run. Advertising a sale or a special offer gets some engagement at first, but too much sales talk will annoy your audience.

Interact with People
Respond to questions and comments from your followers. Better yet, ask them to engage with you by posing a question or asking for their input! According to Usabilla, 56 percent of customers are more likely to buy when given a personalized experience. And when someone responds to you, be sure you let them know that you’re reading their input by commenting on it, liking it or favoriting their response. This is a great way to start a real conversation that feels human-to-human rather than human-to-brand.

Show off your Team and Workspace
Your audience wants to be able to put a face to the words they read on your social platforms or your website. Take pictures or produce videos and webinars where your employees can show off their personalities. Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content according to Kissmetrics. Give your followers a glimpse into your working world and let them feel like they’re getting a behind-the-scenes tour. Doing this makes your followers feel closer to you, and will make them want to get to know your brand more.

Be Authentic and Transparent
Be mindful that all of your messaging should reflect your brand values to create authenticity. And if you make a mistake, whether it’s something little or something big, just come clean about it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Humanize your brand by not covering these things up, but by owning your mistakes.

Your followers want to have a conversation with a person, not necessarily a business or a brand.  You can improve your digital strategy by making engagement with your followers feel like they’re talking with a friend, rather than a business. For more information on how to humanize your digital strategy, give the experts at TAG a call or visit us online!

Reasons Your Website Needs to be Responsive

Reasons Your Website Needs to be Responsive

With the majority of people using mobile devices to access the Internet, websites that work across numerous platforms have become increasingly more important.

Mobile websites can be designed in two different ways; developing a responsive design, or using a mobile template.  If you have a significant amount of web traffic from mobile devices, the difference between the two options is definitely something you should consider. A mobile template requires a mobile-only website or subdomain built specifically for your site, meaning that the website will not adjust based on the size of the screen it is being viewed on. On the other hand, a responsive design means the web pages being viewed will reformat on their own to adjust to the size of the screen the website is being viewed on.

GoogleNo End to Mobile Usage in Sight
Did you know that 58 percent of people search for local businesses on their smartphone or mobile device at least once a day? And 89 percent of people search once or more a week? That’s huge! In 2015, more searches were done on a mobile device than on a desktop. So what does this mean for you? It means that now is the time to update your website using a responsive design. 

Positive and Timely Experience for Users is Key
Sometimes, the first impression a customer has of your business is by way of your mobile website. A positive user experience is important. In fact, there is a 61 percent chance that a user will leave your site immediately and go to a competitor’s page if they can’t find what they are looking for. A positive mobile experience results in a 67 percent higher chance that the consumer will make a purchase, especially if they can easily search for and find what they are looking for on-the-go.

Websites generally take more time to load on mobile devices and are more difficult to read when designed with just a mobile template. With a responsive web design, web content is reorganized, rather than resized, and optimally loads in under two seconds. Bottom line, utilizing a responsive web design is the most effective way to make the most of mobile traffic, as well as provide the best experience to users.

Mobile Social Media
In 2015, over 73 percent of Americans were active on social media platforms, with 55 percent of time spent on social media sites being done on a mobile device. If your company is sharing content that links back to your website without a responsive website design, you’re going to experience three things; high bounce rates, low conversion rates, and frustrated followers—none of which are good for your business. Social media isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. In order to excel in the mobile world, mobile-friendly, responsive websites are a necessity— especially as we move forward into 2016.

SEO
It’s no surprise that Google prefers websites with responsive designs over mobile templates. Creating a mobile website also means creating a URL separate from the desktop version, whereas a responsive design doesn’t need a URL separate from the desktop version. One URL makes it easier for Google to crawl your website and minimize on-page errors. And while improving your SEO won’t happen overnight, creating or improving your mobile website is a step in the right direction.

 

Is your website mobile friendly? At TAG, we can help you with all aspects of your website, including making it mobile responsive. So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today or visit our website to get started!

Show me your site map

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you?

Building a website requires the same thought, planning and structure as building a house and having a site map before development starts is the easiest way to ensure the website you envisioned is the site that’s produced.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s a site map?” A site map is a document that outlines the structure, or blueprint, of your website, which allows you to visually understand the framework that holds your design and content together.

Site Map Sample

Before you proceed with the design and development of your website, make sure you have a site map in hand. A benefit that TAG offers to our clients, a site map is imperative to your success for three reasons:

Understanding the structure of your website
Where is your contact information stored? What pages have in-bound marketing? How do people find your company history? All of this information is housed on your site map, giving you the ultimate breakdown of how your website is laid out, where to find content and how the end user will experience everything your site offers.

By laying it out from the start, you can be sure everything that needs to be included makes it into the site and avoid surprises or oversights later.

Understanding the functionality of your site
Having a complete understanding of how your website functions is key to knowing how customers will interact with your content. This is especially handy when in-bound marketing is involved. Your site map will show you where in the process your customer will receive a confirmation email when information is submitted, how they connect with your social networks and where they will be presented with opportunities for ecommerce and email marketing.

Having this laid out in the site map in advance forces you to think through and coordinate functions across the site before development is underway so that you and the user get the most out of your site when it’s finished.

Understanding the scope of your project ($$$!)
Let’s face it, dollars matter. The only true way to know that the dollar amount on an estimate matches the work put into your website is to have it all laid out. Remember those potential surprises and oversights that could crop up without a site map? Those can add up over the course of development if the client and developer are on different pages as the site is being built.

For an accurate estimate in terms of time and expense, a site map is a must!

 

TAG saves everyone a headache down the road by taking the time to sit down with our clients and plan out a site map that includes the site structure, functions and scope. Projecting a vision for the site and nailing down the details in a site map is the best way to ensure a quality product that meets and exceeds expectations!

To download our free Web Development Services Checklist and learn more about our web design process, visit our website!

Five tips to choose a web development partner

Your business website is more important than ever in today’s digital-savvy world. Often times your potential customers find your website before engaging with you directly. Your website needs to reflect your brand, drive business, collect leads and serve as a 24/7 inbound marketing machine.

There are many factors that go into choosing a web development partner for your new website. But we’ve narrowed down the top five considerations for choosing a firm to trust the future of your business’ online presence to.

Website Grader

Start with a discovery meeting

A discovery meeting is critical to creating a website that will work as an inbound marketing machine for your business. Designers, developers and copywriters are experts at creating websites; but, you are the expert in your business and industry. The discovery meeting allows your website design team to get to know your business goals, market expectancies and what you need the website to do for potential customers.

Only after a discovery meeting will you get a website that truly works for your business 24 / 7, and a true estimate of the cost to make it do exactly what you need it to.

Will the website be responsive?

The way we access the web is changing. Mobile and tablet usage is on the rise and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Mobile users want a website that is easy to read without having to turn or enlarge the screen. If your website doesn’t dynamically resize itself on a mobile device, 61 percent of people will leave and go to a competitor’s that does.

Is the website designed just for your business?

One way website developers cut corners is to use a template design for your website. While this can keep costs down, it also means there could be another business out there with a website that looks just like yours. In order to get the most ROI out of your website, it’s best to have it designed and developed specifically for your brand, business needs and objectives.

Use an open-source CMS instead of a proprietary one

A CMS, or content management system, is the back end of your website where you will be able to edit and make changes to the content. Some web developers use a proprietary CMS that was developed in-house. This can be problematic because you’re tied to the developer as long as you have the website.

However if your website is developed in an open-source CMS, you can cut ties and take the website with you when you go.

Optimize for search with a Google-certified specialist

Your brand new website won’t be very useful if your potential customers can’t find you. Search engine optimization is becoming much more about content on the page, than meta tags included into your website’s code. Writing for the web is an art form. It’s not like writing for print. Working with a Google-certified specialist to choose keywords that matter to your industry, and an experienced copywriter to weave them into the content throughout your website, will increase your search engine ranking.

Click here to learn more about the TAG web design and development process and how we can help turn your business website into an inbound marketing sales machine.

We have a few free tools to help you asses your current website and vet potential web developers. Click here  to download your free website grader determine the strengths of your current website’s marketing presence. And click here to download a web development services checklist to get all the right interview questions to ask potential web development partners.

 

Three elements your website could be missing

elements to site

In the digital age, consumers have taken it upon themselves to do their own research on products, services and business reputation. Minds are made up within milliseconds on whether or not a website appears to be reputable, and have little tolerance for hard to find – or worse, missing – information.

Make your business website standout with these three elements.

White papers

White papers are downloadable packets of information about a business’s particular product or service. They are excellent for educating consumers on the value of what you have to offer, as well as situating yourself as an expert in your industry. Include statistics, infographics and bullet points to keep your white paper brief, but informative.

You can download ours on increasing inbound marketing by clicking here.

Quick stat: 42 percent of Internet users read white papers to justify purchasing decisions.

Client testimonials

Client testimonials offer an invaluable, peer-to-peer persuasion element to your website. When visitors to your page see others think you’re as great as you say you are, it builds up your company’s reputation and trust for future business opportunities.

Quick stat: Focusing on users instead of yourself can increase sales by 90 percent.

Links to other resources

It’s great you’re taking the time to maintain your business’s e-newsletter, blog and Facebook account. But if you don’t include links to these pages from your website, you are limiting their potential for growth. As your email, blog and social media presences get bigger, as do the number of links back to your main webpage, increasing your search engine optimization (the ability of you to be found in a web search.)

Quick stat: 81 percent of business buyers start their quest with a general web search.

Click here to download more digital marketing tips from TAG.

 

Three tips for executing a successful inbound digital marketing campaign

inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is the process of using multiple digital mediums in tandem with one another to communicate information about a business. The goal is to educate the consumer so that the leads come to you.

Read on for three tips to execute your inbound digital marketing campaign to perfection.

Realize you need more than just one type of presence

A website is the foundation to any business’s digital presence. However, it is not the end all be all. Blogging, social media and email not only boost a business’s Search Engine Optimization (the ability to be found in a web search) but also ensure a business can communicate with customers on the platforms they prefer at times most convenient for them.

Mobile optimization goes hand-in-hand with web presence

Sixty-four percent of mobile users leave immediately if a website is not mobile optimized. As mobile device usage continues to climb, mobile optimization guarantees your site is easily readable and simple to navigate for visitors, allowing them to learn more about you.

Do not underestimate the power of social media

Social media is word of mouth in the fast lane. Users from all over the world are able to learn about your products, ask questions and share their opinion in an open forum setting. Depending on your business, some platforms may be more effective than others. Experimenting or hiring an agency is a great place to start.

This is just a taste of how integrated digital marketing can work for your business. To learn more, click here to download our free white paper.

Kicking your website into mobile gear

Whip out your Smartphone or tablet for a second – we know you’ve got one – and pay a visit to your website. Is the content sized appropriately? Is it easy to navigate from page to page? Can you find the information you are looking for with ease?

If you gave up waiting for your site to load before you could even get around to answering these questions, YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT MOBILE OPTIMIZED.

If you’re wondering what the big deal is here, we’ll tell you what! Read on the TAG top five reasons for kicking your website into mobile gear:

 1.       The reality: There are nearly 130 million Smartphone users in the U.S., along with 40 percent of all Internet usage being done via mobile device. Failure to have a mobile optimized website suggests an ignorance of these changing times and laissez faire attitude about the needs of nearly half your visitors.

 2.       The customer expectation: Slow loading times and tricky navigation due to an un-optimized website means three things for Internet visitors to your page – I’m frustrated. I won’t be coming back. I’m checking out your competitors.

3.       The drive in revenue: Mobile websites lead to mobile revenue! Providing this alternative method of doing business means your customers can do business with you essentially any time or any place.

 4.       The ability to network: A mobile friendly site is an excellent way to communicate to on-the-go customers’ information such as what your business hours are, ways you can be contacted as well as directions to your location.

 5.       The way of the future: By 2014, it is projected that mobile search will be overtaking desktop Internet usage. Will your business be ready to meet this mobile demand?

If you’re ready to kick start your website into mobile gear, click here to see how TAG specialists can help!

How to select media and establish marketing budgets in the digital age

1. Clarify Business Objectives
This may be easier said than done, but it’s a definite “got to” before you contemplate spending the first dime. Set the confusion aside for a minute and ignore all the pressure to be “progressive” and “edgy.” Remember, it’s still all about the goals. Without a clear idea about what you hope to accomplish, it’s unlikely that you’ll accomplish anything at all.

For starters, avoid the temptation to lock on to the tried and true. Every situation deserves a fresh look and an approach as specific as your goal. By the same token, work to avoid overly complex models: if it’s hard for you to define the path to your goal, it will be hard for your audience to understand.

In the end, your best outcomes will likely come from considering just three metrics: awareness, sales and customer referral.

2. Don’t Go It Alone

You know that part about this being complicated? That’s why there are professionals who do this full time. You’ll be hard pressed to find a large, successful company that has a “do-it-yourself” mentality when it comes to digital marketing. It’s their job to keep up with the changes, sort out the value from the chaff and provide meaningful analysis of your effort. Even if you don’t like to hear it, they’ll most often spend your money more wisely and to greater effect than  you would on your own.

3. Separate Strategy from Innovation
They’re not the same thing at all. Your strongest strategy may require the most mundane approach. The most innovative, creative idea may do more to confuse your audience than it will to win their business. In general, innovation is best applied only when conventional strategies are likely to fail.

4. Conventional wisdom says that the point of an advertising campaign is to sell. This is one of those things that the Internet has changed. Today, effective promotional campaigns are about engaging a prospect to the point where they want to learn more or get closer. You are much less likely to close a sale with an ad and far more likely to prompt an Internet search. The point is to lead them into engagement with your brand first, use that to create preference which lead to a sale. Successful brands are becoming platforms and need to do more than just drive consumers to a purchase, they have to inspire them to participate.

Don Farber, VP of DIgital Experience & Strategy

8 digital marketing strategies you should try

To get the most out of your website, email, mobile and social media marketing, you can’t treat the channels like trains running on separate tracks. The best results come when you integrate elements of each into one unified digital marketing strategy to grow audience, share content, convert more prospects into customers and boost your campaign ROI.

1.      Streamline your website design 

Your company website is the foundation of your digital marketing and is often the first or only interaction you’ll have with a potential customer. So, if you have not already, it is time to make your website super smart with Search Engine Optimization and an easy to use content management system, and super sexy with an interactive, easy to navigate re-design.

2.      Mobile optimize for our mobile world 

If your website is hard to read on a mobile phone, 61 percent of your audience leaves, 40 percent goes to a competitor that has a good mobile presence and about 20 percent won’t even view your site. No one can afford to lose 61 percent of their audience

3.      Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

The indexed web today contains more than 8.2 billion pages,thus SEO is arguably more important today than ever before.  The true evolution in SEO is that it has become more and more dependent on social media. A carefully planned SEO strategy takes into account your complete web presence, so that your brand – not just your website – ranks above the rest.

4.      Social Media Marketing 

With 1.5 billion members globally, social media has profoundly changed the way we connect, interact, discover information and products and go about our daily lives.  What took commercial television 30 years to achieve – getting to 50 million viewers – took Facebook just a year, and Twitter a short nine months.

5.      Email Marketing Strategies 

Email marketing remains unbeaten, with ROI still almost $41 per dollar spent. Keys to success are to develop a smart phone-friendly email, online and social acquisition strategy and then monitor and measure results to ensure that users are engaged.

6.      Paid Search (PPC)

Paid search is flexible and applicable to any marketing initiative – it can be tailored to any budget, any geographic location and any type of business.  Whether you drop $1,000 or $10,000 a month on your paid search campaign, you still have the ability to capture a very qualified audience for your website.

7.      Quick Response 2D Barcodes (QR Codes)

QR scanning in the US grew 1,400 percent last year.These popular 2D barcodes provide marketing flexibility and have the capability to link to consumer data allowing for better online experiences.  Examine your current offline efforts in direct mail, in-store signage, magazines or any physical product offline that engages your audience.

8.      Targeted Online Advertising

Targeted online ad campaigns can boost any effort to a new level of visibility – while adding new tools to target and convert customers through the web.

Don Farber is the Director of Web and Digital Services at TAG Communications, Inc.