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Trivera turns 21!

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Having been in business 21 years has allowed us to celebrate several birthdays with a look back at how far we've come. But 21 is symbolic of the entry into of adulthood and typically marks the beginning of a new level of maturity and accountability. And so, we're using this milestone to look forward.

The year ahead will be marked by the successful transformation of the ideal Trivera client relationships, as they evolve from exclusively website-based project work to deeper, more strategic ongoing digital marketing partnerships. That change began last year with the addition of new team members with skill sets in branding, integrated digital and inbound marketing strategies. It has continued with the development of a new, transformational 12 month process, one that begins with brand discovery and strategy development, and continues with tactical plans to strengthen every aspect of our clients' digital marketing efforts with constant monitoring, analysis and improvement. That new process is appropriately named "Evolve."

In addition to the new process, we've also deepened the strengths we've been known for for the past 21 years. Trivera's team now has greater depth in the areas of organic SEO, PPC and Social Media. We've also added Magento and Concrete5 certification to our credentials to back up our significant experience developing websites in both platforms.

While we're growing by addition, we are also maturing by subtraction. Over the next year, we'll be continuing our efforts to transition much of our hosting operation from our own data center to fully managed third party operations that specialize in Magento and Concrete5 hosting and 24/7 support. That effort will allow us to focus our own internal resources on the quality and management of the sites and applications we've developed, and less on the equipment, environment and security necessary for their operation.

Our client list will also continue its shift from smaller limited "website-only" engagements to one of fewer, but larger, deeper, long term ones that take advantage of all Trivera has to offer.

Watch for our own new trivera.com website to launch in February. The site will communicate our new direction and highlight more of our new client success stories while still preserving the archival information resources we've developed over decades of digital marketing leadership.

Over the past 21 years, how we've used the internet to support our businesses and organizations has evolved. What was once referred to as "Cyberspace," "the world wide web," the "CB radio of the 90's," the "information superhighway," the "dotcom boom"...and crash...the "new economy," have all evolved to become simply an integral part of every person's...and every business'...daily life. We're proud that we've been able to evolve with it and help hundreds of businesses leverage the power of digital marketing we knew existed when we opened for business on January 16, 1996.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

 

Do Donald Trump and Bill Penzey Have Something in Common?

By Tom Snyder, President/CEO

“Never discuss religion or politics.”

Great advice for keeping the peace at family gatherings and a generally accepted principle for most corporate social media marketing plans.

Is it ever safe to break that rule?

An important component to your brand is its differentiator – that thing that makes you different from your competition. That differentiator could very well be your stand on a controversial political issue.

Consider this year’s presidential race, in which each candidate took a political stance and drove it hard on social media, with no concern about offending those who disagreed. The goal was not to appeal to everyone. It was to build passion and create loyalty among an audience just large enough for the candidate to win.

Campaigns and cause-based organizations succeed only by effectively using social media to communicate a political agenda or ideology.

But what about a commercial business?

Business owners like Penzeys Spices chief executive officer Bill Penzey, Jr., and Hobby Lobby CEO David Green have taken controversial positions on hot-button political issues and have leveraged social media to establish those positions as their differentiator. The social echo chamber brings out and amplifies the voices of legions of people who disagree with their positions and threaten to boycott, as well as others who praise them and promise to support them. In both cases, measurement is demonstrating the success of each strategy.

If your potential market is large enough that you can do well with portions of that market being offended or inspired by your discussion of religion or politics, do the research before you begin, and constantly measure while you’re doing it. Strategically breaking that long-held rule can be a key to your success.

This article originally appeared in the BizTimes.com Social Media Strategies Column, in January, 2017

Looking for some design inspiration? Hit the road!

By Christina Steder, VP Client Strategy

hittheroad-image.pngMany years ago when I was an assistant buyer for Kohl's Department Stores, I had a theory that car companies are indicators of color trends. Of course, the most popular car colors are always pretty basic - white, grey, black, etc. About 75 percent of cars sold are one of the basic colors. But there is always at least one "interesting" color in the mix. Remember when there were suddenly lots of brown cars on the road? Or way back in the 90's when there were a ton of crazy teal colored cars?

So how do they do it? Car companies work with paint manufacturers 3 years in advance to determine their color palette. They look at the same things most other designers look at - architecture, electronics, nature, clothing trends - and then develop a list of suggestions for the automaker that is adjusted to the company's preferences and target audiences. Right now, car makers are looking at palettes that include browns, oranges, golds, and lighter blues. Interestingly enough, those are the same colors that our own Serene Mireles has been collecting in her private design inspirations Pinterest boards.

The important thing to remember is that no matter where your inspiration comes from, we are all to some extent influenced by the same trends. In your business, it's important to be aware of these trends because they will impact your marketing. Trends are why your logo eventually looks dated and your website has a shelf life. On the bright side, digital marketing efforts can be updated much more easily than printed materials. Paying attention to trends gives your brand the opportunity to make small enhancements to your digital efforts which can help you evolve as tastes change.

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

5 Reasons Why Sliders Suck (and 4 Things To Do Instead)

by Serene Mireles, Web Design/Front-end Development Specialist

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There’s been a lot of debate in the world of web design about using a slider/carousel (see the study by usability expert, Jakob Nielsen).  They look nice, but as a lover of modern design and architecture, I’m a firm believer in form following function. Sliders aren’t functional. (We're in the process of redesigning Trivera's website, and we're not including one!)

Here are five reasons why sliders don’t convert (and can hurt your SEO):

  1. They slow down your site
  2. They look like ads, so users scroll right past them (banner blindness)
  3. They dilute your marketing message—there’s no focal point
  4. Sliders that automatically advance take control away from the user
  5. Research shows that only about 1% of users click on sliders


Slider Alternatives


So what should you use instead? We recommend creating simple content that clearly communicates your company's message. You can achieve that with one of the approaches below.

Use a hero image. A static hero image (a large full-width image) with a strong marketing message and a call to action can achieve a similar look to a slider. It provides visual interest to grab a user’s attention, and creates hierarchy on the page. This approach has been proven to convert. Here are some examples of sites that use a hero image with a call to action: Moz , Starbucks, Netflix and  Hello Fresh.

Use a video. Videos engage users. They tell a story, create human interest, and can quickly deliver your message. Here are some examples of successful sites that use a video: IBM , Blue Apron, Airbnb and HP.

Use a lead generation form or a search form with a hero image. This approach is similar to the hero image approach, but adds a conversion point to a prime area of your site (above the fold.) Here are some examples: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Uber, Evernote and Epicurious.

Use a grid approach. Using a grid approach allows you to feature more than once message without overwhelming a user or slowing down your site. This layout also works really well on mobile devices. Here are some examples: Apartment Therapy, Lifehacker and Twitter.

Even though visitors are used to scrolling past the fold to view engaging, compelling content, the spot typically occupied by sliders is too valuable to waste with anything that doesn't provide measurable value. By using your Google Analytics or heat mapping, you can find the element that best facilitates a user journey that leads to conversion. 

 

About Serene Mireles

serene01.jpgSerene Mireles is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In her role, Serene uses her 18 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Serene was the first developer in the world to be certified for Concrete5 version 7. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

Omelio Hopwood Joins Team Trivera

Omelio Hopwood

Omelio Hopwood has joined Team Trivera as a PHP wizard, with a specialty in Magento development. While developing robust functionality for client websites may not seem exciting, "Oh" (as we call him) has already experienced a more amazing life than most of us will ever live.

Omelio came to the US from Jamaica as a child. Since his arrival, he has always had a passion for all aspects of technology. But, starting in high school, he decided to focus his passion on the web and software development. After graduating high school and spending a year in college, he took a detour and joined the US Air Force. His tour of duty took him to Japan for 3 years. With a new sense of self confidence and worth following his time in the service, he came back and got his Bachelors of Science from UW-M, majoring in Information Science & Technology. Following a stint at the Milwaukee veterans accelerator program VETransfer where he developed an app that got him covered in the Milwaukee Business Journal, his focus of late has been to take his programming expertise, turn himself into an accomplished, certified Magento developer, and become a valuable member of Team Trivera.melio Hopwood has joined our team as a PHP wizard, with a specialty in Magento development. While developing robust functionality for client websites may not seem exciting, "Oh" (as we call him) has already experienced a more amazing life than most of us will ever live.

Previously, Omelio was a Magento Developer at Sitesquad and a PHP programmer at Gross Automation. 

A brand new dad, and new Menomonee Falls resident, Omelio is grateful to have a gig within walking distance of his home so, when he's not working, he can spend all his time with his family.

Why I (and Our Clients) Love the Concrete5 CMS

by Serene Mireles, Web Design/Front-end Development Specialist

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Concrete5 is a powerful open source content management system (CMS). I started using concrete5 (C5) when I first came to Trivera a year ago. Previously, I worked with proprietary CMSs and other open source platforms that have a steep learning curve. Not C5. Concrete5 is user friendly for content editors, developers, and designers. I’m not the only designer who loves concrete5—it was the winner of the CMS Critic Award for Best CMS for Designers of 2015.

Here are a few of its many features:

  • In-context editing and a Microsoft Word-like content editor. All page edits are done on the page itself once you are logged in and in edit mode. No more filling out web forms and guessing where the information will end up on the page. 
     
  • Mobile Optimized & Responsive. Your website will look good on any screen size or device. 
     
  • Easy to set up and use right out of the box. You don’t need to purchase any extensions to achieve the look or functionality you want. 
     
  • Forms and Surveys. Easily created in few simple steps without any code. 
     
  • Developer Community. There is an active concrete5 community where you can get support from hundreds of other developers in the forums. 
     
  • Scalability and Extendability. Hundreds of add-ons (eCommerce, inventory management, customer management, fulfillment, the list goes on and on) make it possible for your site to do nearly anything you can think of.


Our clients love it too! Here’s what some of them have to say about concrete5:

“As a developer I've worked with numerous CMS solutions. Some have been cumbersome to manage, others are limited by a simplistic client interface. Concrete5 accomplishes the best balance between the two: it is both powerful and simple. A user-friendly interface lets editors manage site content with ease and minimal training. Developers can easily create themes, blocks, and add-ons to create a powerful, custom-tailored platform.” — Sean McMahon, MMSD

“We really like the flexibility and ease of changing evergreen content blocks with the stacks option. Certain aspects of our organization can change at a moment's notice, and we need to be able to update site-wide content in the fastest way possible. Stacks allow us to do that in the blink of an eye!” — Erik Bergstrom and Erin Donegan, Dental Associates

“Concrete5 allows me to turn a unique design into a dynamic, customizable site in a short amount of time and with no fuss. Unlike other CMS options, my designs are not bound by anything other than my own limitations or goals.” — Bilan Hockers, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino


If you’re not satisfied with your CMS, or if your website isn’t built with a CMS and you can’t update it yourself, it’s time to check out concrete5! Visit concrete5.org to learn more.
 

About Serene Mireles

serene01.jpgSerene Mireles is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In her role, Serene uses her 18 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Serene was the first developer in the world to be certified for Concrete5 version 7. 

3 Not So Stupid Questions for #AskAStupidQuestionDay

By Christina Steder, VP of Client Strategy

questions_square.jpgAt Trivera, we love it when clients ask questions about the technology we use to support their business goals. Digital marketing changes all the time. Here are three questions we are often asked. And no, we don't think these are stupid questions at all!

1. What's the difference between SEO and PPC? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process we use to help your site rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). If you want to be on page 1 of Google, and aren't planning to advertise, our experts will use SEO to help make that happen. PPC stands for Pay Per Click. Pay per click ads are the ads that appear at the top of the results page when you conduct a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search. There are many reasons to combine SEO and PPC. We can help you decide the best balance between SEO and PPC to help support your business goals.

2. What's a wireframe? Wireframes are like the blueprint of your website. Just like a blueprint shows where the rooms are in your house but not what color the walls will be painted, a wireframe is a black and white sketch-style mockup of your website. At Trivera, we build interactive wireframes so you can see what happens when you click on different elements of your future website, and how your site will look on different screen sizes. Wireframes help you see what information will go on each page, and how the information will be organized. Wireframes do not have any photos or logos and use placeholder text only. This helps you as a client focus on where items such as images, videos, or buttons will be placed on a page without also having to evaluate design elements, such as colors, at the same time.

3. Why do we need to do a discovery? Can't we just start working right away? When you become a Trivera client or bring us a new project, we want to ensure we understand EXACTLY what you need. We apply best practices and research to your work so that we can bring you our best ideas and avoid any pitfalls during your project. Of course, if you need something immediately, we're happy to jump in and help, but our 20 years in business have shown us that taking time up front to fully map out your digital marketing strategy or website development project saves time and money in the long run. Our process identifies every aspect of your brand and your target audience so we can create a tactical plan to attract, engage and convert that target audience, then create the ROI to make your digital marketing plan an investment to be leveraged, rather than an expense to minimized.

4. What does Trivera mean? Trivera is Latin for "Three Truths." Those three truths are:

      • Deliver a Product we can stand behind. Our product is "Digital Marketing that Converts." We know how all the pieces need to fit together to provide a website and digital marketing plan that achieve your brand and business goals, creating measurable success and significant ROI. We only recommend something if we believe it can help you achieve your business goals.
      • Follow a proven process, but be agile. Our process begins with a proprietary discovery that identifies your needs and develops a long term strategic plan with defined, achievable goals. Then it continues with an agile approach to accommodate constantly and rapidly changing tactics, tools, customer preferences and market conditions while keeping the goals and budget as our guiding force.
      • Commit to an ongoing relationship. Our Annual Service Agreement isn't just a document or a contract - it's our commitment and promise to be your long-term partner, delivering the highest quality work possible and helping you and your company achieve your goals.

Any other questions? Just let us know!

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

Five Digital Marketing Mistakes You're Probably Making

By Tom Snyder, President and CEO

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It's been said that the first step to recovery is always acknowledging there's a problem. Because there are no longer any excuses for you to be a bad digital marketer, if you are struggling with disappointing results from your efforts, you definitely have a problem. The good news is that we're here to perform an intervention with a diagnosis of five mistakes you're probably making, along with the solutions to help you return to a state of digital health.

1.) Thinking Tactically, Not Strategically - Too many marketing decision makers fall prey to "shiny object syndrome." Without a strategy to give you solid tactical direction, the focus of your efforts will be directed by whichever new Social Media platform happens to be the flavor of the day. Yogi Berra said "If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else." Create a solid brand strategy that includes targets, goals, roles, to help you determine the tactics that will get you where you need to go. 

2.) Lack of Continuity and Consistency - In an area where success takes both effort and time, consistency is more important than perfection. So many marketers begin with misguided and untargeted efforts, expect vague immediate results, lose steam within a few weeks and simply give up. Les Brown said: "It ain't over 'til I win." Commit to the necessary effort as long as it takes, pausing only to adjust, and stopping only to replace underperforming tactics with something else that will better achieve your strategic goals. Develop an editorial calendar, assigning roles, and demanding accountability allows your entire team to be part of the effort. With everyone pulling together it becomes easier to make sure your efforts are sustained and sufficient to create the results you need. 

3.) Not Measuring Your Results - For centuries, marketers were unable to know for sure which of their efforts were directly responsible for the success or failure to meet their marketing and business goals. But after two decades of the measurability provided by the digital revolution, it's amazing how many marketers still refuse to monitor their metrics and make themselves accountable for meaningful results. Marty Rubin said: "Every line is the perfect length if you don't measure it." The solution is simple: EVERYTHING can...and should...be measured. Do more of what's working, and less of what isn't.

4.) Ignoring Changing Customer Preferences - Assuming that their reality is the same as that of their target audience, lots of marketers let their own biases and fears get in the way of exploring the tools and tactics that research shows will reach their target audience with the brand experience they prefer. Wayne Gretzky said "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Be sure that the customer-facing side of all your digital marketing efforts is aimed where your audience is going to be, arriving with the UX they will be expecting, delivered by the technology they prefer to do business with you..

5.) Not Making an Adequate Investment - Too many marketing budgets are based on the lowest priced response to their poorly written RFP. Regarding digital marketing as an expense to be minimized is the path to failure. Richelle Goodrich said: "If you invest nothing, the reward is worth little." Successful companies budget the amounts necessary for their digital marketing to produce predictable results. Base the amount you spend on a percentage of your annual revenue that's standard for successful companies in your industry.

Are your digital marketing efforts failing? You're not alone. All 5 of these mistakes are typically the result of marketers who take a "do it yourself" approach. Finding a reputable agency who can help you take the above 5 steps will be the first step to put your digital marketing efforts on the road to recovery.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

Two Web Design Trends That Are Here To Stay

responsstrat.jpgBy Craig Schneider, Designer/Front End Deeveloper

Web design trends come and go faster than political posts in Facebook, so it's important to weigh their potential against their impact on your site. Sometimes these elements benefit the user experience and become common user interface patterns. But often these experiences fail to deliver any tangible results.

These two "trends" have proven their worth and become mainstays in today's web design.

Hero images (not the Marvel or DC kind)

We've all seen multi-image sliders or carousels at the top of website home pages. Although they're very common, studies have shown that the use of multiple images can lead to mixed messaging and confusion from a marketing standpoint. In addition, image sliders increase load time because multiple images and scripts need to load in order to run these elements. Instead, we recommend pairing a hero image with elements that move a user down the page (users do scroll, and the lingering myth to the contrary has been debunked). This eliminates the need for confusing carousels and reduces load time.

By reducing the clutter on a page and presenting a singular image tied to your marketing message, you reduce the potential for information overload and allow a user to focus and settle into your site. If you want something more visually exciting, using subtle animation or video elements can enhance the visibility of the area, furthering the potential of discovery.

Responsive design

Responsive design is no longer just a trend, it is best practice. With ever-rising mobile traffic and the cross-pollination of site traffic from social media, it is imperative to deliver a site tailored to the user's specific device. Responsive sites use percentage-based widths and responsive images to adjust layouts as they scale down to mobile devices. This fluidity, along with the ability to turn off elements to reduce clutter, leads to increased site performance.

Not only is the visual user interface important from a branding standpoint, but it also impacts SEO. Google released a search algorithm update in the Spring of 2015 which penalizes sites that aren't mobile friendly. As our main man Tom Snyder has pointed out, "Companies that have responsive, search optimized sites are now getting 60 - 70% of their traffic from mobile devices, achieving lower bounce rates, garnering higher mobile conversion rates, and getting even better rank for non-mobile searches."

The bottom line is that if your site isn't responsive, it will hurt your bottom line!

Of course we're always looking for design inspiration and working to understand how current technology is impacting your website visitors' expectations. By integrating these two best practices into the creative ideas for improving user experience on your site, your website can support your other marketing channels and help you achieve your business goals.
 

About Craig Schneider

Criag Schneider.jpgCraig Schneider is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In his role, Craig uses his 10 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Craig also assisted Concrete5 in development of their certification program. 

A Question for #BeLateDay - Is Your Content Always Late?

By Christina Steder, VP Client Strategy

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Yesterday was Be Late for Something Day. To celebrate, we're posting a blog about it one day late! There are many reasons people are often late or miss deadlines. In this case, we deliberately missed be late day because we were enjoying Labor Day weekend with our families. (And we thought it would be fun to be late for #BeLateDay.)

I know - easier said than done. But trust me, once the plan is done, you'll find that it's much easier to create content when you know what to create. Your first question won't be, "What the heck should I blog about?" Instead, your first question will be, "I need to write a blog about my three favorite pizza places (or whatever). What do I know about this?" Much easier!

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when planning your content:

  • What do we want the people who interact with our content to do?
  • Why will people care about what we want to say?
  • What will we measure?
  • Who are our audiences?
  • What are the optimal content types for our audiences? 
  • How can we reuse and amplify what we create?

If you can answer these questions, it will be much easier to decide whether to start a blog, or a Facebook page, or an Instagram account. These questions will help you think of useful topics and how often to post. And they'll help you figure out how you can repurpose your content for maximum impact.

Content marketing is well worth the effort. Once you start thinking, you'll realize you do have a lot to say. If you're still having trouble figuring out what to say and where to say it, give us a call. We're here to help!

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock