International TAG Team

Many TAG clients are local, or U.S. based. But, did you know we work with international companies as well? TAG clients and services reach all over the globe, making us worldwide! This requires us to be extremely forward-thinking and compliant to assure we represent our clients effectively. So not only are we worried about compliance state-side but also abroad!

International Clients TAG currently works with:

Sandstrom Coating Technologies develops and manufactures quality coatings for customers all over the world. Sandstrom needed a contemporary website with improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The TAG team updated Sandstrom’s brand as seen on their website, to reflect its status in the industry and convey expertise to global customers.

Sivyer Steel Castings produces high quality steel casting products for use in the global construction, energy, military, mining and transportation industries. While the company implemented a plan to restructure in early 2018, the TAG team helped Sivyer launch their turnaround with key strategies focused on reinvigorating their brand. This involved redesigning their website and enhancing social media deployment to include video as well as public relation strategies to better communicate with a work market how Sivyer can meet the needs of the industry.

Crane Merchandising Systems is a leading global manufacturer of innovative solutions for vending machines, cashless systems, software and wireless communications. As a pioneer and market leader in vending, Crane has sought out new ways to enhance how consumers interact with their machines. TAG is engaged in assisting with launching new product brands utilizing strong design and messaging deployed on the web, print media and trade shows. All efforts are geared toward new customer lead development and current customer retention.

Sears Seating supplies superior seating solutions with over five generations of experience. Sears has expanded greatly over the years, establishing Sears Europe in the United Kingdom, signing a manufacturing partnership in India, expanding business in Brazil and even opening an office in Japan. The TAG team designed and launched a website that is adaptable in North America and Europe to help customers navigate their new site to easily receive the highest quality products.

TAG represents clients domestically as well as internationally, all over the globe. No matter the client if they are an Iowa native or a business owner in the United Kingdom, we offer the same services and steadfast dedication to creating and designing the very best. Our website compliance assures that your content will be accessible to all user no matter what country they reside in. For more information regarding our work please visit our website!

TAG Blogging Best Practice Guide

Blogging is an effective way to reinforce your brand and draw audiences to your site. Writing engaging content, using SEO optimization, can bring in a broader audience, largely increasing the number of views to your blog and overall site. Here are some of TAG’s best practices when writing a blog:

Audience- Understanding who your key audience is can assist tremendously in blogging. Writing to a specific audience will engage them and keep them on your site. Incorporate audience data tracking into your content strategy to remain relevant to what your audience is thinking. Consider your audience, try to figure out their problems, then provide the answers they are seeking. Look to industry experts for their input, including quotes and interviews. Garner information on your audience from the experts and you can effectively communicate with them.

Hooking your Audience- You need to catch the eyes of your audience. Your headings need to capture the readers interest, but also make them want to read your blog post. Answering the problem within your heading defeats the purpose of reading your article. A header should never exceed 60 characters. Give the reader a small dose with the heading then further explain in your blog. Create interest in the reader then make them read your blog to find the answer to the question you pose. Using steps or lists is another way to engage your audience.

Content- Quality over quantity. Attention spans are shorter, people need to be drawn in with vivid content. Write engaging copy and grab people’s attention. It is better to compose two well written, thought-out blogs than hastily putting out four sub-par blogs. High-quality content is useful, and by providing your audience with solutions to their problem, your brand will become a helpful resource they look to. Content also includes photos, illustrations, charts, videos and quotes—use visual content to break up text or help better translate your ideas while keeping your readers engaged. Recommended word count has varied over the years, recent trends believe longer blogs tend to receive more views. Average of 500-1000 words is a good starting point, though your main goals are answering user questions and exceeding competitors’ content.

Mediums- People typically think of blogs in the form of written blogs. Any social platform utilizes video so why can’t your blog? Utilize all the tools social media has provided and create a video to include on your blog. Short videos have become a must-have on social media sites and including them in your blogs can attract a new audience.

Consistency- Continually writing your blog will drive more people to see it and keep your usual audience engaged with it. No matter if it is one blog a week or two a month, always putting out content will drive people to your site. Make your brand accountable by producing something week in and week out so your audience expects content.

Search Engine Optimization- If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, get familiar quick, then continue learning about it because it is a constantly shifting and twisting metric. By not optimizing your blog posts you are inhibiting the reach of your audience and growth of the overall blog. Use metrics to improve future blogs, and see which strategies are working. What are the best times to post, word count, and amount of people reading your blog to the end are all questions that can be answered by metrics.

Organization- Creating an organized calendar of content for the month will significantly help your team. Posting blogs or content several times a week can often have overlap or even repeat a topic.  Having a calendar of when and what you are posting for the week or month will reduce clutter, similar posts, and keep your team organized. Always try to include current events or trending topics to keep your content fresh and in the social loop.

TAG! You’re It!

Meet Zach O’Connell! ZO_3

Zach recently celebrated his two-year anniversary at TAG and has been creating inventive designs and eating oatmeal every morning but today, we ask him about his creative process and other thought-provoking questions.

If you had to describe yourself using a kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?

I am a knife because of how sharp I am.

What helps you get into that creative space to design?

I am most creative when I am able to really focus on what I’m doing with a clear mind, so I will do things like go on a walk during my lunch break to help me get into that space. I also do a lot of sketching quickly, get a lot of ideas out before taking it to the computer.

You have a time machine. You can go back to any time period to have dinner and conversation with 3 people. Who are they and why?

First, I would pick Walt Disney to hear about the humble beginnings of what has become a massive company.

Second, I would pick one of my ancestors like my great great grandfather because I don’t know really anything about them and it would be interesting to learn more about where I come from.

Third, Steve Jobs, because I could hear about the early days of Apple, but more importantly, I hope he would be able to tell me about the early days of Pixar as well.

Tell me one thing about design that everyone outside of that world might not understand?

How valuable it is.  A lot of work goes into making things look good and function well, and it can have a massive impact on how we interact with the world around us.

You find yourself trapped in the board game Jumanji, do you think you survive or is it Game Over? giphy

Am I allowed to watch the movie before entering the game, so I can remember how to get out? Regardless, I’ll make it out.

What are your 3 favorite projects you have worked on at TAG? 

Three of my favorite projects I’ve worked on are: Logo and website design for Smokestack, packaging re-design for Hungry Hobo, and I still think it’s cool when I see Genesis buses driving around town with artwork I created on them.

When is your ideal bed time?

I used to be a pretty devoted 11:00 pm guy, but recently I have been getting up earlier and have transitioned to more of a 10:00 pm person (sometimes it’s more like 9:30. Teenage me would be shocked).

Finally, what is your favorite part about working at TAG?  

My favorite part about working at TAG is getting to be creative with a great team every day!

ADA Website Compliance

The United States Department of Justice has determined that failing to meet the current “AA” level of WCAG 2.0 violates the equal access rights of those with disabilities or limitations. Lawsuits filed across the nation have resulted in significant verdicts and settlements, disruption in business operations and loss of goodwill. Here are a few lawsuits that have been filed:

  • Target – $6,020,000 settlement
    • National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation
      Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Scribd Inc., 97 F. Supp. 3d 565 (D. Vt. 2015)
  • H&R Block – $100,000 settlement
    • National Federation of the Blind v. HRB Digital L.L.C.
      National Fed’n of the Blind v. HRB Digital L.L.C., 2014 WL 10319389
  • Pizza Hut – Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Dismissal or Stay denied.
    • Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc.
      Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc., No. 216CV08211ODWSS, 2018 WL 566781, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2018)
  • 1-800-Flowers – Motion to dismiss denied
    • Gathers v. 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc.
      Gathers v. 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc., No. 17-CV-10273-IT, 2018 WL 839381, at *2 (D. Mass. Feb. 12, 2018)

48.9 million Americans are considered disabled. By making your website compliant, you can make your organization accessible to millions of people. WCAG 2.0 was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the highest authority in web accessibility goals and universal design. Published by W3C, the WCAG 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is a set of guidelines for making digital content accessible for all users, including those with disabilities. TAG’s developers can make your website compliant with these standards.

Did you miss our recent seminar on online compliance regulations? Watch the full seminar below!

You’ll learn: 

    • What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
    • Who does the ADA apply to?
    • Lessons from recent lawsuits
    • Benefits of a compliant website
    • How is website compliance measured?
    • The new standard: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    • Synopsis: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
    • Synopsis: Website security

Request a compliance quote from TAG, here.

4 Basic Things Your Brand Needs to Excel at Digital

The fall season is the perfect time to embrace your inner basic. “Do you want whip cream with that pumpkin spice latte?” You bet your sweet Aunt Sally I do! Even when it comes to your digital strategy, think basic.

At TAG, when we talk about a digital strategy, we’re not simply talking about your website. It’s all of your digital components and how those components work together to deliver results.

Those components include social media, websites, analytics, digital ads, AdWords, etc. -  you get the picture. It’s a lot to think about and monitor, so start slow. Below is what the TAG team believes are the four basic elements your brand needs to master.

1 | Mobile Responsive Website

A mobile responsive website means that your website will be just as clear and easy to navigate on a computer, as it is on a smart phone or tablet. Mobile responsive sites aim to minimize resizing, panning and scrolling so that your consumer can have a seamless interaction with your site and its content.

According to Adobe, nearly 8 out of 10 consumers would stop engaging with a piece of content if it’s not displaying well on their device. And, with roughly 60% of all internet access attributed to mobile traffic (which will continue to grow), can your brand afford to not be mobile responsive?

Think of your own habits. We’re all busy and when you’re looking for information fast, you don’t want to find yourself accessing a website on your phone and constantly having to zoom in to look at the text. It’s a hassle, and consumers and clients alike will find themselves seeking a mobile experience elsewhere.

2 | Social Media

Curious as to another digital tactic where most traffic comes from mobile? Ding, ding, ding! Social media. If you’re a brand, it’s imperative for you to have a focused social strategy. This doesn’t just mean throwing up pictures to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day (although, we do have a tactic for using National Days…), it means being in touch with your audience and knowing what kind of content they’re  looking for on your social media accounts.

Advertising on social media platforms has blown up over the past couple of years, and it will only continue to grow. Create a goal and then create a social media ad campaign that will deliver those results. For example: If you want people to visit your website, create a Facebook Ad campaign that will send traffic to your site. Or, if you’re wanting some exposure for your brand and your audience is relatively young, consider creating a Snapchat filter for a local event you’re sponsoring or that aligns with your brand.

3 | SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

When a potential customer is searching for your product or services online, what would they type into the search bar? Write them down, and then incorporate those words throughout your website because that’s how search engines pull results.

For example, when I type in “home improvement store davenport,” Lowe’s Home Improvement in Davenport is one of the first things to appear. Why? For one, they have home improvement in their name (genius) and it’s also sprinkled throughout their website. If you go to their Company Information page, their description says, “…Lowe’s has been Improving Home Improvement.”

So, if you’re currently dependent upon organic search traffic but aren’t getting the results you want, it’s time to do a word overhaul on your website.

4 | Analytics

Once your website is mobile responsive, your social media tactics and campaigns are running and your search engine optimization is as optimized as it gets, the next step is reviewing the analytics.

If you have a website, make sure it’s set up with a basic Google Analytics tracking code. That way, you’ll be able to see who’s visiting your site, when they’re visiting your site, how long they’re staying, what pages are most viewed, etc. in order to see what’s working with your audience and what’s not.

Social Media sites also have analytics in order for you to see which posts or ads are performing the best. Facebook to Snapchat and everything in between will offer you metrics such as impressions, reach, engagements, click through rates, etc. so that you can see the results, analyze them and then put your money where it makes most sense.

Whether you need help with the basics or if you’re looking to take your digital strategy to new heights, contact the TAG team of social media, web and analytic experts to help you reach your goals.

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The Evolution of Paid Search & What it Means for Your Strategy

The Evolution of Paid Search & What it Means for Your Strategy


“Where can I find jackfruit?”

“Pool floats that look like donuts”

“Do I need special glasses to watch the solar eclipse?”

Those are just a few of our team’s latest Google Searches. Did you know that there are over 3.5 billion searches per day on Google alone?

The Evolution

Over the course of the last decade, technology has evolved and so have our search patterns. Google has introduced numerous algorithms, and continues to refine them in order to better assist you in your queries.

Take a moment to think of your own behavior and how, it too, has evolved over the last 10 years. The first iPhone wasn’t introduced until June 29, 2007, so until then, Google search was limited to desktop users. In 2011, Apple introduced Siri – it’s voice-activated search tool for Apple product-users. 2012 marked Google’s release of their search app for iOS that featured its voice search function, rivaling Siri.

Paralleling these technological advances were also societal changes in the way we interact with our phones. 2007 was also the year when the state of Washington became the first state to ban texting and driving. Since then, many other states have followed suit and some have even banned calls from a hand-held cell phone device which, in turn, pushed for more voice activation options.

Earlier this year, The Webmaster released an article citing Hitwise’s study that found nearly 60% of all online searches are now happening from a mobile device, with the food and beverage industry reaching 72%.

What it means for Search

According to a recent HubSpot blog, 20% of queries in 2016 were mobile and android voice searches and a study by Ahrefs found that 64% of searches are at least four words or more.

This tells us that we’ve become much more conversational in the way we use search. So, instead of typing “Restaurants Quad Cities” like we did in 2007, we’re typing (or, dictating) “Where’s the best place to find tacos near me?”

What it means for Google AdWords

With many of our current clients reaping the benefits of Paid Search, the TAG team of Google certified experts decided that with this information, it was time to restructure our strategy.

Instead of the previously advised 10-20 keywords per topic in AdWords, because of the way consumers are searching we need to start thinking of them as “topics.”

The first step in this process is looking at your content from a low level. Segment the content you want your consumers to find into “topics.” For example, at TAG, one of our “topics” would be Social Media. We realize a strong social presence could be a potential client’s pain point and we’re here to help them succeed.

From there, we take our “topics” and segment them even further into “subtopics.” We think, ‘What are our potential clients searching for when they’re looking for help with their social strategy?” Then, “subtopics” for social media could be:

Social Media (topic)

  • Facebook marketing quad cities (subtopic)
  • More followers for my business Instagram (subtopic)
  • Is snapchat right for my business? (subtopic)
  • Email marketing tools (subtopic)

The subtopics help our team get into the mind of our clients and we’re able to then reformat our Google AdWords campaigns in order to deliver them the information they’re seeking and, ultimately, help their business succeed.

At TAG, it’s important to understand our clients, and their clients, so that we can create a comprehensive approach that fits everyone’s needs. Our TAG team of Google certified experts is excited to help your business grow, so let’s get started.

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Web Development Buzzwords: Do You Know What We’re Talking About?

Web Development Buzzwords: Do You Know What We’re Talking About?

Developing a website can be intimidating. Sometimes, it can even seem like web developers are speaking a different language! With the help of our web development experts, we’ve put together a list of 10 development and design terms to help you navigate the world of the web.

Responsive
If a website is responsive, it looks good and functions properly on every device from your desktop, to your phone and anything in between. More and more people are turning to mobile devices to do their Facebook stalking or Googling, so a responsive design is key to having a successful website. For more information on why your website should be responsive, check out this blog post!

“Above the Fold”
If you’re a newspaper reader, you might be familiar with this term already, and it’s pretty easy to understand. When something is “above the fold” it is displayed on your screen without having to scroll. This section is where important pieces of content should be located so that they can’t be missed by website visitors.

Back-End and Front-End
You’ll hear developers refer to the back-end and the front-end of websites. The back-end is the part of the website that visitors do not see, and the front is the part visible to visitors—it’s that simple!

Hosting
A web hosting service is a type of internet service that enables websites to be accessible online, making it available to the public. There are different types of hosting available.

Domain
A domain is the name that the website is branded as. Domains are purchased and can be a combination of letters, numbers and hyphens. For example www.tagteam.agency is a URL, but the domain is tagteam.agency.

Placeholders
In website design, developers and designers often use stock images, video or text while they wait for the content that will actually live on the website. These are referred to as placeholders, and are only used for a limited time until they can be replaced.

Parallax scrolling
Parallax scrolling is a fairly mainstream technique in web design and development.  This refers to the method of moving the background images lower than the foreground images, thereby creating an illusion of depth. Checkout some great examples of parallax scrolling, and get inspired!

Sitemap
Planning out your website’s content can be a difficult task, but it is crucial to its overall success. In order to plan out your content, you’ll need a sitemap. Similarly to your home’s blueprint, a sitemap will help you to plan out the organization of your website.

Wireframe
Like the sitemap, wireframes are done in the early stage of designing. They aren’t very detailed drawings, and are only used to organize content and structures of pages before designing them graphically.

SSL
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layers. It’s a networking protocol used for managing server authentication, client authentication and encrypted communication between servers. SSL keeps sensitive information, like credit card numbers, secure. Without an SSL, data is sent from browsers to web servers in plain text leaving that information vulnerable. Before entering your credit card information, take a look at the URL and make sure it has “https” at the beginning to make sure your information will be secure.

Database
A database is a structured set of data stored in a computer that is organized so that it can be managed, accessed and update easily.

You don’t need to be a web developer to understand some of these web development buzzwords! If your company is ready for a new website, give the experts at TAG a shout!

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

The Importance of Brand Guidelines

Branding guidelines, brand standards, style guides. Whatever you call them, they are an important piece of building your brand. Branding guidelines set a foundation for your brand by creating a framework to operate in that’s consistent no matter what medium you choose.

So what are brand guidelines? Branding guides consist of essential rules for how to craft the visual pieces of your brand including typography, imagery, photography, logo usage, image style and more depending on the size and need of your business. These guidelines should point your communication toward your target audience with a consistent look and feel.

Consistency is vital in maintaining brand integrity. A guideline helps you maintain integrity by maintaining consistency in your branding efforts. And consistency makes you more recognizable in the market, assisting in building the way your brand is perceived. A guide plays an important role in perception. Every touch point between your brand and your audience should be used to reinforce a consistent perception.

Deviating from your guidelines can be harmful to your brand. Straying from your guidelines, be it typeface, color palette or tone, makes it harder to recognize your brand in the market. Not to mention it can make your brand look unprofessional. Consistency among all of your brand’s communications should always be your goal.

It’s easy to think that you can put off creating branding guidelines until a later date, but it’s important to start building that foundation right away. By using brand guidelines, you ensure that there’s an organized, cohesive approach to the points of engagement and communication with your audience that creates consistency in your communication.

At TAG, we recommend brand guidelines to all of our clients. Does your brand need help creating a guideline? Visit our website today to see how we can help grow your brand!

TAG Team Highlight: Jordan Kremer

TAG Team Highlight: Jordan Kremer

Who’s Google Analytics and AdWords certified and ready to take your online marketing to the next level? Jordan Kremer, TAG’s Associate Digital Analyst!

“ I come up with strategies to get consumers to our clients’ websites and analyze what they do once they’re on the website,” said Jordan. “I enjoy the challenge of learning new things. Since Google is a constantly evolving marketing platform, it gives us the flexibility and challenge to create new, innovative campaigns that drive results.”

“The best part of Google AdWords is how specific it can get—it’s all data-driven.”

Originally from Cedar Rapids, Jordan graduated from St. Ambrose University with a degree in Business Marketing and Management.

“I love the location of the Quad Cities—it’s a short trip to Iowa City for a game, or a weekend in Chicago with friends.”

When Jordan isn’t at TAG performing the duties of a Google Master, you can find him working out or reading. His latest literary find? Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin  (the book, not the show …).

You’ll also spot him at Van’s in Davenport, throwing back some beverages and buffalo chicken dip.

A lover of Halloween, Jordan can also juggle three things at a time (see below!).
Jordan Juggles

Where does Jordan see himself in five years?

“In five years, I’d like to be graduated with an MBA to advance myself in my career. I’ve always had an interest in venture capital as well.”

 

For more information on Jordan, and the role he performs at TAG, visit our website!

 

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!