3 Lessons My Move Taught Me About Marketing

This is the last article about my move, I promise! The interesting thing about a move is that it forces you to step outside your comfortable bubble of everyday life. Suddenly you’re forced to navigate new situations, often on a tight timeline.

Recently I orchestrated a cross-country move, shifting 19 years of my life in the course of a week. When you’re in a high pressure situation like that, customer service experiences are make or break. I’m always on the hunt for luxury goods and experiences, but it’s been a long time since I’ve viewed a brand experience through such a high-stakes lens.

Unfulfilled Promises = Customer Resentment

Adding a pandemic-related banner to a website or a COVID-19 reference in the hold music seems to be a common recommendation, but it’s vital that those messages be based on transparency and the desire to communicate useful information to the customer.

While I was trying to get my wifi set up, I spent what felt like a lifetime on hold with the Internet provider, Spectrum, and its droning hold music that reassured me they were “keeping me connected” during COVID. Meanwhile, I had to wait 17 days for installation and wait on hold (with no callback option!) any time I needed help.

Big communications utilities are notorious for fueling absolute resentment and anger, but all brands would do well to remember that it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver. And hey, reminder to check your client experience so you’re not infuriating them with messages that they matter and you’re keeping them connected when you’re not.

High Functioning Service Beats High Tech

In my previous post I mentioned brands’ increasing reliance on tech solutions, often at the expense of customer experience. It’s only becoming a bigger issue as companies turn to tech for help adjusting to the pandemic landscape. While some companies are more well suited to replacing in-person services with tech solutions, what customers really care about is whether they get what they need.

One of the standout brand experiences during my move was surprisingly low tech. I set up a business account with FedEx to manage shipping my 20 boxes from NYC to LA. The website felt absolutely antiquated, but the customer service was exceptionally smooth. Could they benefit from revamping their customer portal? Of course. But I got exactly what I needed. I’m not even close to a luddite, but providing great service is always going to be more important than keeping your tech looking cutting edge.

The Net-Net and Inspiration From Being an Airbnb Host

At the end of the day, the moving experience really helped me think about how I counsel my clients on their customer experience. I think what happens is that brands develop a service or product, pay a ton of attention in the development phase, think they have it all sorted out, and then just set it and forget it. What this taught me is that brands need to actually go through their own customer experience.

Call customer service and try and get a new install. Wait on hold and hear messages about keeping you connected or taking advantage of the brand’s latest tech. Ship packages and see how jarring the experience is when you have to jump back and forth between old and new platforms. By walking in your customers’ shoes, you’ll discover what’s working with your brand experience and what is not.

This whole experience reminded me of Airbnb. I have a vacation home that I rent out on the platform. To get to super host status and become Airbnb Plus, I tried to walk through the customer experience by reminding myself what makes me happy when I check into a 5-star hotel: cookies from the bakery on the counter, bottles of water next to each bed, and making sure the essentials (like milk for a.m. coffee) are always stocked. Then I would sleep in every single room to see what it’s like at night. Does the TV work? Does the AC blast cool enough? Does the street light peep through the blinds? By walking my guests’ walk, I was able to see the areas of friction and create a great customer experience that resulted in only 5-star ratings.

Brands need to walk their customers’ walk.

How New Data Protection Laws Affect Your Non-Transactional Website

Good news! Regulatory agencies are taking privacy policies and data protection more seriously than ever. Bad news! Regulatory agencies are taking privacy policies and data protection more seriously than ever.

Good news! Regulatory agencies are taking privacy policies and data protection more seriously than ever.

Bad news! Regulatory agencies are taking privacy policies and data protection more seriously than ever.

The increased regulatory activity is certainly good news for all of us as consumers. As marketers, that silver lining can be overshadowed by the cloud of fear, uncertainty, and doubt — to say nothing of the potentially enormous fines — attached to these new regulations. Let’s take a look at what your responsibilities are (or are likely to become) as privacy regulations become more widely adopted.

Before we begin: I’m not a lawyer. You should absolutely consult one, as there are so many ways the various regulations may or may not apply to your firm. Many of the regulations are regional in nature — GDPR applies to the EU, CCPA to California residents, the SHIELD Act to New York State — but the “placelessness” of the Internet means those regulations may still apply to you, if you do business with residents of those jurisdictions (even though you’re located elsewhere).

Beyond Credit Cards and Social Security Numbers

With the latest round of rules, regulators are taking a broader view of what constitutes personally identifiable information or “PII.” This is why regulations are now applicable for a non-transactional website.

We are clearly beyond the era when the only data that needed to be safeguarded was banking information and social security numbers. Now, even a site visitor’s IP address may be considered PII. In short, you are now responsible for data and privacy protection on your website, regardless of that website’s purpose.

Though a burden for site owners, it’s not hard to understand why this change is a good thing. With so much data living online now, the danger isn’t necessarily in exposing any particular data point, but in being able to piece so many of them together.

Fortunately, the underlying principles are nearly as simple as the regulations themselves are confusing.

SSL Certificates

Perhaps the most basic element of data protection is an SSL certificate. Though it isn’t directly related to the new regulatory environment it’s a basic foundational component of solid data handling. You probably already have an SSL certificate in place; if not, that should be your first order of business. They’re inexpensive — there are even free versions available — and they have the added benefit of improving search engine performance.

Get Consent

Second on your list of good data-handling practices is getting visitor consent before gathering information. Yes, opt-in policies are a pain. Yes, double opt-in policies are even more of a pain — and can drive down engagement rates. Both are necessary to adhere to some of the new regulations.

This includes not only information you gather actively — like email addresses for gated content — but also more passive information, like the use of cookies on your website.

Give Options

Perhaps the biggest shift we’re seeing is toward giving site visitors more options over how their PII is being used. For example, the ability to turn cookies off when visiting a site.

You should also provide a way for consumers to see what information you have gathered and associated with their name, account, or email address.

Including the Option to Be Forgotten

Even after giving consent, consumers should have the right to change their minds. As marketers, that means giving them the ability to delete the information we’ve gathered.

Planning Ad Responsibilities For Data Breaches

Accidents happen, new vulnerabilities emerge, and you can’t control every aspect of your data handling as completely as you’d like. Being prepared for the possibility of a data breach is as important as doing everything you can to prevent them in the first place.

What happens when user information is exposed will depend on the data involved, your location, and what your privacy and data retention policies have promised, as well as which regulations you are subject to.

Be prepared with a plan of action for addressing all foreseeable data breaches. In most cases, you’ll need to alert those who have been or may have been affected. There may also be timeframes in which you must send alerts and possibly remediation in the form of credit or other monitoring.

A Small Investment Pays Off

As a final note, I’ll circle back to the “I’m not a lawyer” meme. A lawyer with expertise in this area is going to be an important part of your team. So, too, will a technology lead who is open to changing how he or she has thought about data privacy in the past. For those who haven’t dealt with transactional requirements in the past, this can be brand new territory which may require new tools and even new vendors.

All of this comes at a price, of course, but given the stakes — not just the fines, but the reputational losses, hits to employee morale, and lost productivity — it’s a small investment for doing right by your prospects and customers.

Here’s a Website Performance Checklist to Kick 2020 Off Right

Reviewing your website’s security practices, privacy policies, accessibility, and analytics can help improve performance over the course of the year. You can still pledge to get the most from your website. This website performance checklist can help.

No need to abandon all hope if your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. You can still pledge to get the most from your website in 2020. This website performance checklist can help.

None of these topics are particularly sexy. Nor are they likely to have the kind of top-line impact (read: massive increases in revenue) that lead to promotions and bonuses. But they can save you a ton of pain and regret throughout the year. And without a doubt, they will make those revenue-spiking initiatives that much more successful.

Security Review

Having your domain blacklisted is nobody’s idea of fun. Because there’s no “Undo” button, once you’re in trouble, it’s time-consuming to get out. So, it is well worth reviewing your site’s security to ensure that no evil lurks in the heart of your coding.

Check your traffic logs and firewall settings to make sure you’re still keeping as much malicious activity off your site as possible.

If your site is custom coded, confirm with your developers that the code base is being updated regularly to guard against malware and other attacks. (Even fully customized sites generally rely on code libraries or frameworks that can be the target of attacks.)

If you use a commercial CMS, do a similar check with the vendor. It can be helpful to also do a web search for “[my CMS name] vulnerabilities” and other phrases to find reports of attacks.

An open-source CMS requires a similar review:

  • Do you have the most recent version installed?
  • Are all of the plugins, modules, widgets, and other helper programs up to date?

In all of these cases, you should be on a regularly scheduled maintenance plan with your development team. Now is the time to make sure you have the most appropriate level of protection.

Don’t forget the basics. A quick review is all that should be required to make sure that your registrar and hosting accounts are secure and your domain name and SSL certificate are in order and not at risk of cancellation. If you host internally, review server access to eliminate the chance of former employees making mischief.

Privacy Review

If GDPR and CCPA sound like alphabet soup to you, it’s definitely time to review your site’s privacy policy and things like data retention. This is now true even for non-transactional sites. GDPR may apply only to those of us who work with E.U. residents, but CCPA applies to most firms who interact with California residents. The Shield law applies to every firm in New York State.

That’s a lot to keep track of and understanding your responsibilities can be overwhelming. Given the potential fines involved, this is not an area where you want to take all of your advice from a marketer, coder, or (ahem) digital strategist. Be sure to have a knowledgeable lawyer review your privacy policies and practices.

Accessibility Review

Making websites accessible to people with disabilities is an area that has grown in importance over the past 18 months or so because of an increase in legal actions, even though the relevant regulations aren’t new.

The good news is that building new websites to be accessible isn’t particularly difficult, nor is maintaining that accessibility as new content is added. Both require an understanding of the requirements and a shift in approach.

The story is not quite as rosy for bringing existing sites into compliance, which tends to be more labor-intensive. Adjustments may include changes to branding and in-depth review of content (image alt tags, for example), as well as less visible coding changes.

There are a number of excellent assessment tools that can help you get an understanding of the effort required to make the site compliant. But a deeper, manual scan will also be required to uncover everything.

Analytics Review

Finally, don’t forget to review your analytics. This is one area that just may uncover insights that can lead to revenue growth that and a move closer to the corner office, though more likely those improvements will be incremental.

  • Compare statistics year-over-year to see where you’ve improved and where performance has fallen off.
  • Determine whether your mobile audience is growing or holding steady. (It’s probably not shrinking.)
  • Review traffic sources to see how visitors are finding you. That can guide adjustments to your marketing efforts.

You may be doing quite a bit of this on a monthly or quarterly basis as part of your marketing efforts. Still, it’s worth it to expand beyond that scope to look at broader performance and strive for continual improvement throughout 2020 and beyond.

An SEO Consultant’s 4-Point SEO Holiday Wish List for Santa

This year, I want to take a more childish approach and write an SEO wish list for Santa. Here are four things that I want from Santa. These wishes are not big, so I hope Santa can deliver this list.

As I write this post, Thanksgiving and the rush to the end of the year are upon us. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, for it is filled with good cheer, good eats, and no expectation that gifts will be exchanged.

In the past at Thanksgiving, I have written about gratitude. But this year, I want to take a more childish approach and write an SEO wish list for Santa. Here are four things that I want from Santa. These wishes are not big, so I hope Santa can deliver this list:

  • Make all of my clients’ sites super-speedy
  • Teach all of my client teams how to write unique, valuable content — faster
  • Make all client structured data instantly accurate, complete, and error-free
  • Fix all mobile search/usability problems, immediately

Why Is This My Wish List?

Although each of these wishes are for client sites, this is, in fact, a selfish wish list. Fast sites are still the gold standard — table stakes for good SEO results. If Santa will supercharge all of my client sites, then the other SEO tactics that I recommend will have a firm and fast base to run from. It is foolish, read borderline delusional, to assume that a slow or marginally fast site is going to deliver a successful search optimization project.

Content Team Challenges Grow

Today, the message that high-quality content is an SEO must-have has finally seeped deeper into organizations, beyond just the SEO team. As the understanding the impact of content on SEO results grows, it is this SEO’s expectation that content teams will be tasked with creating more and more high-quality content. To meet the demand, content development teams will need to create more content, faster. This wish benefits the SEO consultant and the client.

Structured Data — A Key to Stronger Results

Structured data provide information that search engines can use to understand a site’s content and provide the best search results possible. Adding Schema markup to the HTML improves the way a page displays in search results pages (SERPs) by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title. The rich results give searchers cues that a page may, in fact, address what they are searching. Clearer signals will result in improved results, but the structured data vocabulary is still evolving. My wish for instant, accurate, complete, and error-free structured data for client sites is a wish for an easier path.

Unaddressed Mobile Problems Are a Brake on Results

Mobile is firmly entrenched as the device of choice for a growing majority of searchers. To deny the importance of mobile is to fly in the face of reality. If a site has mobile issues that are flagged by Google’s Search Console, then it is fair to say that these will act as a brake on the search optimization program’s results. Mobile errors are — to use a sports metaphor — the equivalent of unforced errors. Quickly fixing mobile search/usability problems limits the damage; hence, my wish.

Perhaps, if you believe in Santa, you may get your wishes granted. I know Santa will bring me these four little wishes, because I’ve been very good this year. Maybe?

Striving for Continuous Website Marketing Improvement

Taking small actions on a regular basis are likely lead to more meaningful improvements to your website marketing than a large investment in a website “refresh” or relaunch every two or three years.

It’s a mistake to think about your website marketing efforts as set-it-and-forget-it investments.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah. That’s pretty obvious!”

It’s unlikely that you aren’t aware of the value and importance of a steady stream of fresh content on your website at this point in the maturity of the web as a digital marketing tool. And you’re almost certainly already aware of the necessity to integrate your website into your marketing more broadly, from your email marketing to your social media efforts to your CRM system.

All of which means you have a pretty dynamic website. It doesn’t look the same today as it did six months ago.

But that’s not where your growth-focused thinking should end. If you seek to continually improve your marketing performance, you have to implement incremental changes to your website on a regular basis.

Finding the Right Frequency for Marketing-Focused Website Updates

How frequently you make these changes will depend on your site’s traffic volume and the resources you have to identify opportunities for improvement and to make the necessary changes .

Regardless of frequency, the key is to make changes systematically and track performance so you know what’s working and what isn’t.

The improvements you make should be based on three kinds of data:

  • Straightforward analytics metrics
  • Feedback from prospects, clients, your sales team, and other client-facing staff
  • Your gut

That last one is sure to be either a shock to your system or to make you sigh with relief. Even with data-driven marketing being all the rage — and justifiably so, in most situations — there’s no reason not to lean on your years of experience and what your inner voice is telling you.

For example, a client of ours didn’t have a lot of data to back up the changes she wanted to make to a section of her website that was neither outperforming nor lagging behind other content. She just had a hunch that changes would have an impact on engagement and lead generation.

We helped her update the presentation of this particular content in a way that made it more useful beyond the website, easier to connect to through her email marketing, and far more sharable on social media.

We also worked to update her analytics so that future updates in this areas could be based on metrics, as well any hunches the client had.

What Will Move the Marketing Needle?

Not sure what might move the needle? The best places to start include these:

  • Calls to action
  • Content gating strategies
  • Progressive profiling parameters
  • Page layout and design
    • Colors
    • Pull quotes
    • CTA placement

Changes to any one of these could yield measurable improvements in engagement or conversion rates. And taking small actions on a regular basis are likely lead to more meaningful website marketing improvements than a large investment in a website “refresh” or relaunch every two or three years.

Overall, the key to continuous improvement in your marketing is measurement. Experimentation and adjustment can easily become change for change’s sake, if you’re not measuring impact.

I would also caution against chasing after the latest shiny object. That’s a real danger, if you implement a policy of incremental changes without a long-term plan documented and agreed to by your entire team. Know where you want to go in the long-term and take short-term actions to move you closer to your digital marketing goals.

How Your Site Speed Could Be Slowing Your Business Growth

Site speed not only hurts conversions, but it can also hold back your search engine optimization efforts. Learn how to identify and fix site speed issues that may be slowing your business growth.

Imagine that you are casually browsing through a clothing store and something catches your eye. You are interested in buying the item, but all the lines are backed up in the store. Not wanting to wait around, you put the item back on the shelf and move on to a different store.

That same scenario can happen on your website if your site speed is too slow. And the end result is the same — lost sales.

The Impacts of a Slow Site

Your website should be capable of allowing visitors to quickly answer questions that inform their decisions on making a purchase or using your business’s services. They do not want to wait around forever to read a product description or to go through checkout with items in their online cart. Every second your visitors waits around is a potentially lost conversion.

Fifty-three percent of mobile users abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Here are other ways a slow website can impact your business prospects.

  1. Lower Search Engine Rankings — Google began using site speed as one of its criteria for organic search rankings back in 2010. It updated the algorithm in July 2018, making speed an even more critical factor. That means your best SEO efforts could go to waste if the pace of your site causes high bounce rates.
  2. Poor User Experience — Slow load times discourage users from revisiting your site. Seventy-nine percent of web shoppers won’t return to a slow-moving website. (Opens as a PDF)
  3. Bad Word of Mouth  — The impacts of slow load times extend beyond a single visit. Forty percent of visitors let others know about the bad experience they had, which keeps other potential customers from paying a visit. (This PDF shows that percentage is higher)

You can see a lot of money spent on advertising and other digital marketing go down the drain, thanks to slow website speeds.

Testing Your Site Speed

Speed tests on your website will tell you how fast your website moves for visitors and how search engine algorithms would rank you.

Speed Tool Options

  • PageSpeed Insights — PageSpeed Insights from Google measures your site speed and gives you details on improving your load time. The tool can also be accessed from Google Analytics under Site Speed in the Behavior section.
  • GTmetrix —  GTmetrix provides you with feedback on your site loading times and makes recommendations on improvements and optimizations. It also offers a guide full of suggestions on optimizing your WordPress pages.
  • WebPage Test — Use WebPage Test to find out what’s happening behind the scenes of your site. One great feature offered is the ability to test loading from different devices and server locations.
  • TestMySite — This Think With Google tool informs you of areas around your website where you have an opportunity to improve your page load time on mobile devices.

Many of these tools do not require administrative access to a website, meaning they can be run on both your own and competitor sites. You can gain insight into rankings for both yourself and rivals in search engines.

Improving Your Site Speed

Once you have a good idea on where your site ranks speed-wise, you can opt for a variety of tools to improve your page loading. One thing you can start doing is tracking any alerts Google puts out around changes to its speed algorithm, which usually happens six months before they go into effect. Use that time to make some of the following updates to improve your site-load time.

  1. Utilize Website Cache — If you’re not already using cache, then this is a quick way to improve your site speed. Think of cache as a copy of your webpages that can be served much faster to visitors.
  2. Use AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages) — AMPs point your standard HTML web page to a stripped-down version for mobile devices. They load much more quickly, cutting load times by as much as 85 percent.
  3. Watch Your Image Size — As much as you might love the header image on your site, the size of it might be impacting your page speed. It is recommended that you keep web pages under 500 KB in size.
  4. Think About User Intent — Because so many users issue voice commands, it is essential that your site accounts for conversational queries vs. static keyword phrases, which can make searches faster for visitors. Localizing your content can also speed up searches issued by users in your area.
  5. Review Your Site Construct — Take the time to have your page documentation reviewed. Unwieldy JavaScript and CSS can add to your page load times.

Summing It Up

Slow site speed can stunt the impact of any digital marketing plan. Use the recommended tools above to measure your site speed and get insight on how to improve your site speed on web and mobile. Lastly, review your site content for ways to reduce your page size and improve page loading.

Investing the time to improve your site speed will improve the user experience and ultimately boost your conversion rates.

Do you want more tips to improve your SEO? You can  grab a copy of the “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

Does Marketing Require Your Website to End in ‘.Com’? If Not, Here Are 7 Options

There is no definitive answer to the value of TLDs besides .com, but deciding on one is a marketing conversation more than an IT discussion. The value of the myriad other options available will depend on your brand personality, your message, and who you are trying to reach.

Whether you know what “TLD” stands for or not, you’re probably thinking that a discussion about top-level domains is likely to be pretty technical. It can be, but we’re here to talk about TLDs from a marketing perspective.

So stow the eye glaze (you know, for when your IT director really gets going and your eyes glaze over …) and lets dive into what to consider as you assess your domain name options.

First, let’s acknowledge that it’s the web’s enormous growth that has led us to a point where the domain name you’d like — yourcompany.com —  simply may not be available. Certainly, just about every single-word .com domain has already been registered, even if it’s not in use. So what are your choices?

Changing Your Firm’s Name to Get the TLD You Want

If you can’t register the domain you want, you can change your firm’s name. Typically, that’s going to be a pretty radical option, though this is more palatable if you’re just starting out. If you are launching a new venture, you should find (and register) the domain name you want even before you have your attorney do a legal search for the viability of the name you’re considering.

Variations on a Name

You can also choose a variation of your name. For example, the social media management tool Lately arrived on the scene too recently to register lately.com, so they’ve opted for trylately.com. That works exceptionally well as a domain name for a marketing site.

Relocate Away From .Com

Another option, of course, is to select a TLD other than .com.

The options here have exploded over the past few years. Which option you choose should depend on your market and your audience. Some choices will feel more traditional, while others may provide a level of differentiation. Your choice should be based on your brand’s needs.

Once you’ve determined that a TLD other than .com is your best bet, there are still a lot of choices to be made.

Custom TLDs

One option is a custom TLD, as Google has created. (Which it uses for sites like https://sustainability.google/.) The expense of these TLDs — $185,000 — makes them an impossible investment for most companies, other than very large consumer brands.

Restricted TLDs

Sticking with existing TLDs, you’ll find that some are off-limits to anyone outside of the groups they’re meant to serve. These include .gov and .edu addresses, as well as some country-based TLDs, like .com.au. Domains using that TLD are reserved for businesses registered in Australia.

Country Code TLDs

Other country-based domains are open to outside registration. “Co” implies “company” to most folks in the U.S., which is why the .co TLD is quite popular here, even though it is actually Colombia’s TLD. It ranks just above the .us TLD here in the U.S.

We’ve seen an increase in .io sites over the past few years. It’s not 100% clear why this is a popular TLD; though, the fact that it rolls off the tongue nicely and is shorter than .com when most other newer TLDs are longer certainly helps. (In case you were wondering, .io is the TLD assigned to the British Indian Ocean Territory. All of you “Old MacDonald” fans should also note that eie.io is currently available …)

TLDs to Avoid

On the negative side, there does seem to be a growing consensus that .info sites are often home to some of the less savory businesses on the internet. You may want to avoid that TLD, even if your site is purely an informational site.

Defensive Measures

Type the name of your favorite mobile phone provider, airline, or cable company into your browser’s address bar with “.sucks” appended to the end. You’ll see why owning that domain name for your company under the .sucks TLD is a smart defensive move. You don’t want a competitor or disgruntled former employee creating a site ranting about your firm.

Wikipedia’s list of TLDs organized by type can be a great resource to see if you can find a domain name that works with your company name. (We’d love to own andi.go if there was a .go TLD.)

So while there is no definitive answer to the value of TLDs, deciding on one is much more than a conversation for your IT department to have by themselves. It’s tough to argue with .com as a known quantity. You should always register the .com, if it is available. The value of the myriad other options available will depend on your brand personality, your message, and who you are trying to reach.

.com and TLDs

Direct Mail Informed Delivery Enhances Your Campaigns

Are you ready to get more out of your direct mail campaigns? Direct mail is a very powerful marketing channel that can be enhanced by adding Informed Delivery.

Are you ready to get more out of your direct mail campaigns? Direct mail is a very powerful marketing channel that can be enhanced by adding Informed Delivery.

What is Informed Delivery? Basically, you provide to your customers and prospects with more touchpoints, more impressions and, therefore, create more impact. The USPS offers a free service to subscribers, which sends an email to them with an image of that day’s mail.

The default images are not in color, because they are scanned on postal equipment. When you participate in an Informed Delivery campaign, you can replace that image with a color image and even add a web link for quick purchasing or information about your product or service.

How Does Informed Delivery Enhance Your Mailing Results?

  • The USPS has a 72.5% email open rate. People will see your ad.
  • It has a 4.92% clickthrough rate on ads. People do click on the ads.
  • It encourages faster response rates, with the easy link.
  • It provides an easy way to have multiple touchpoints with clients and prospects.

Is It Complicated?

No, and that is the best part. Once you design your mail piece, you should design an image for Informed Delivery and also create a ride along ad. Both will then be sent with the landing page information to the post office, along with a mail.dat file so the post office knows who gets the mail and the ads. When the post office scans the mail piece for delivery, it will send the email to your customer or prospect with that day’s mail. Your color image with the ad and web page will be in that email.

How Can You Measure Results?

You will use your normal measuring tools for your direct mail results, plus the added Informed Delivery results. The best way to do this is to create a special landing page for your Informed Delivery ad and coupon code recipients enter at purchase. This will allow you to track how many hits come to the page, as well as how many purchases are made from the Informed Delivery portion. Your responses from the mail piece will go to a different landing page; they can also come in based on other response mechanisms, like phone or email, depending on what you provide.

Why Use Informed Delivery?

In 2019, there is a very good reason to try it out. Why? Because the post office is having a promotion for Informed Delivery. You can save 2% on your postage just for trying it out. The promotion period is Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. Over 14 million people have registered to receive these emails from the post office and that continues to grow daily. Many marketers are looking at new ways to use direct mail and Informed Delivery can help you grow your ROI. Are you ready to get started?

Improving Website Engagement Means Getting Your Site Visitors to Stay

Getting website visitors to stick around is critical in moving them through the buying cycle. Here are the aspects of your site to focus on to increase engagement and conversion.

On Saturday mornings, the station my clock radio is set to play “Living on Earth,” a show about environmental topics. After a brief intro on the show’s topics, the host Steve Kirwood says, “Stick around!” before cutting over to the local news.

I’m not sure if his jaunty delivery makes more people stay tuned in through the news break, but it sure has stuck in my head. And it comes to mind today, because getting visitors to stick around on your website is a critical component in your site’s marketing and lead generation success. Here are some tips for encouraging deeper website engagement.

What’s in It for Them?

Make it impossible for your audience to miss what’s in it for them. Forget your years of experience and and your awards and how great you are. That’s not going to get them to stick around. (Yet.) More on this below. Make sure your value proposition is front-and-center.

Be Entertaining

Often overlooked in the focus on being informative — which clearly is critical — you should also pay attention to whether your content that is fun to read, view or listen to.

B2B shouldn’t mean “Boring to Boring.”

We’re all people — even when we’re in the office — and we all like to enjoy even the mundane moments of our day. No, you’re not likely to make your B2B site as bingeworthy as the latest Netflix hit, but you can make people smile. And that’s going to help keep them engaged.

Be Informative

Because you can’t be Netflix, you have to be valuable. It’s just that simple. People aren’t coming to your site primarily to be entertained, anyway; they’re coming to learn more about how they might solve a business problem. Help them do that, and they’ll not only stick around longer, they’ll be back more frequently.

Write Well

All of the above implies good writing, but it’s worth pointing out that your content has to compete with a lot — not just other firms offering the same service, but all the fun stuff on social media and everywhere else. You have to craft more-than-passable prose.

If you can afford to hire a good writer, do so. Work with her or him often enough so he or she knows your company and your products inside and out and can craft a strong story.

If budget is an issue and you have to do the writing yourself even though you’re not 100% confident in your skills, go against your instinct to write less. Write more. The more you write, the more quickly your writing will go from questionable (or wherever it is now) to captivating. That’s your goal.

Perspective Matters

In your writing and the way you organize your site, think from your prospect’s perspective. If you’ve presented your value proposition properly, you’re well on your way. Keep that value central to all your writing, as well as your site’s navigational controls and structure. Even your calls to action should follow this principal and answer the question, “What would someone who’s just consumed this piece of content be interested in next?”

Ask for the Sale

Speaking of calls to action, find the balance between overdoing it and never doing it. You may not be literally asking for a sale, but you should be asking your audience to take the next step in building a relationship with you. Get them to take that next step by making the next step logical and rewarding.

Track Engagement

With these ideas implemented on your site, you should see an increase in engagement metrics, like average session time and number of pages viewed per session. You are tracking these data points, aren’t you?

By they way, if you’re wondering why I have an alarm set on Saturday mornings, so am I. Our dogs always have me up before the alarm goes off, anyway …

How Optimum Healthcare IT Is Building a Tech Stack on a Budget

No matter the size of their company, every marketer charged with building out a technology stack is inevitably limited by their allocated tech budget. No one can buy all the new shiny tools all at one time, so marketers need to make savvy tech choices – the right technology at the right time and right price.

Over the past couple of years, Larry Kaiser, VP of Marketing for Optimum Healthcare IT, has put together a martech stack using a budget-conscious approach to serve his company’s marketing efforts. Kaiser and his team created a website that could act as the focal point of Optimum’s content marketing strategy, acting as the engine for serving up content that demonstrates thought leadership in the market and attracts and converts leads.

Below Kaiser talks about the starting point for his martech strategy and aspirations for evolving his toolset in the future.

Larry Kaiser, VP of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT

Kaiser will be speaking at the upcoming FUSE Digital Marketing Summit, presenting on “How Optimum Healthcare IT Built A Scalable Tech Stack on A Budget.” Learn about other session at the summit here.  

What have been some of the mission-critical objectives that have guided your technology strategy?

It comes down to the vision that you have put in place and the steps that will get you there. When I started at Optimum Healthcare IT, we had a very old website built on an out-of-date platform. Our online presence was not built for content or to market our organization. Optimum is a healthcare IT services firm and the best way to promote your services, your knowledge, and your people is through thought leadership. We needed to build a website that would support a blog, gated content, etc. This was our first step towards the vision that I was laying out. From there, almost everything we do begins with our website and how we deliver our content.

Can you give examples of some technology upgrades you’ve made that you think have been smart moves?

Going back to our website, originally it was built on an extremely outdated version of Drupal. The smartest move we made was moving to WordPress. I did not have the budget to go out and hire a professional firm to build the website, so it was a DIY project. My very skilled creative director designed it, and we had to find someone to build it. We ended up utilizing a designer based in Croatia that came recommended from a close contact of mine. He built our site with a custom theme, which in hindsight, was not the best move as it caused issues as we grew.  But we came through it and now have a fantastic public facing website.

How do you anticipate your tech stack evolving as your company grows and marketing team advances?

As Optimum continues to grow, I see our tech stack moving to more advanced applications with additional functionality. We currently do not utilize a true CRM, and I would love for us to move to one. I was really impressed with a customer data platform vendor about a year ago, and I would love to incorporate that technology. Moving from Mailchimp to a more advanced marketing automation system would also be high on my list. To justify these costs, my team and I continue to build and deliver content and work hard to increase the consumption of our content. As we continue to show the value that is gained from what we are delivering, I hope that we can build a more advanced tech stack.