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How This Weekend's Big Game Has Gone Digital

AdobeStock_4871771_sm.jpgFootball fans everywhere are gearing up for this Sunday's big game. There's another crowd that also loves watching - the marketing and advertising community. Traditionally, the big game has featured some of the most innovative commercials we see all year. In fact, nearly one in four of adults say that the ads are the most important part of the event! 

You might be wondering: In today's world where digital marketing can pinpoint audiences, retarget, and measure every click and follow, why would anyone spend $5 million for a 30-second ad? There are many reasons, but one of them is the power of digital marketing.

According to a recent report by Google, ads during the big game spark YouTube channel subscriptions. (We think it's reasonable to assume ads also help attract followers to other social channels, but this report focused only on YouTube.) For each of the top 20 ads, based upon their YouTube views in the year they were released, nearly 30 percent of the company's new channel subscribers signed up in February.

The effect continues long after the game is over. One of the more popular game day ads, Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," which aired in 2010, was viewed over 1.4 million times in 2016!

Of course, as digital marketing advocates, we always suggest that clients build up their online assets. Even though you might not be able to afford a $5 million TV spot, your online marketing efforts can pay off for a long time to come. That's why it's smart to invest the time, creativity, and budget into developing the best content possible. You never know how long it might pay off.

Source: The Big Game on YouTube - AdBlitz 10-Year Anniversary Report

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 

Happy That You're Using Wordpress for Your Website? So Are the Hackers!

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While hacking continues to be the hot topic of the day in political news, for those of us in the web development business, it's been top of mind for decades. 

Because hack attempts are almost as certain as death and taxes, everyone who takes security seriously maintains vigilance and takes care to make it more difficult for hackers to find a way to get into their websites or email. They use strong passwords, hardened firewalls, and solid security compliance standards that keep their web site platforms constantly updated. In so doing, they minimize their chance of having miscreants steal valuable personal or customer information, or take control of their digital presence to launch trojans and viruses on other computers, email accounts and networks.

As a web development leader, our mission has been to protect our client sites and email accounts from near constant hack attempts for decades. 

So we all laughed when we heard that one of the email accounts that was hacked in the recent election was vulnerable because the password was "password." But we found it ironic that many of those who laughed at that lack of concern for security still run their websites on WordPress.

WordPress is an open-source blogging tool that uses plug-ins to extend its capabilities and provide much of the functionality that content management systems like Drupal, Joomla! and Concrete5 or e-commerce platforms like Magento have had all along. Even though its back-end administrative UX is not very user-friendly, thousands of $48 themes and $15 plug-ins are available to provide small businesses, freelance designers and small agencies to create good-looking, but generic low-cost websites. That combination has allowed Wordpress to grow to host 27% of all the websites in the world.

It has also contributed to it becoming the most hacked platform on the web.

Hardly a week goes by without news stories reporting another phishing scam going viral. Hackers create bots to scour the web, identify thousands of hackable sites, then create fake bank, branded customer service or eCommerce login pages on those sites. They then use the mail program on those servers to send out millions of emails luring unsuspecting recipients to those pages to enter personal or credit card information where it's harvested and used for criminal purposes.

According to a 2016 study done by a leading website security analysis firm*, 78 percent of those hacked websites ran on WordPress. Joomla! was a distant second with 14%, 5% were running on Magento, 2% ran on Drupal. Concrete5 didn't even show up. 

Trivera requires that whenever a client of ours insists that we build their site on Wordpress (usually against our recommendation) that they have a service agreement that assures that we'll apply security patches immediately upon their release. Because we've learned from history, that agreement always also includes support provisions for mitigating hack attacks.

Whenever  I check my spam folder to make sure a legitimate email hasn't ended up there, I find several emails that have been sent by a WordPress site attempting to get me to go there and either enter my information or get infected by a trojan. Just last week, I found two more, which provided me with the impetus for this blog. One was running an older version of Wordpress with a widely known vulnerability (see image below).
 

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Example of a falsely-branded email sent from a hacked un-patched Wordpress site with a link to a that same site that autoforwards to another site that, without anti-virus protection would have infected my computer with a virus, torjan or ransomware.

But it's not just old, non-updated versions of WordPress with well-known vulnerabilities that are being hacked. The other email I received last week sent me to a hacked WordPress site running the most current version available at the time. Hackers had found and exploited a vulnerability before Wordpress even had a chance to identify and send a patch to close the vulnerability.

 

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Example of a falsely-branded email sent from a hacked totally current  Wordpress site with a link to a that same site that autoforwards to another site that, without anti-virus protection would have infected my computer with a virus, torjan or ransomware.


With WordPress, the question is not whether your site will get hacked, but when it will get hacked.

Smart marketers and business owners spend more to hire developers with a greater sensibility for security build their websites using content management systems…like Concrete5, Magento, Joomla! And Drupal…that have a much lower risk of being hacked. It will cost more, but avoiding the legal, reputational and financial damage to your business and your brand when your site has been found responsibe for the theft of visitor information makes it an investment worth the price.  

*Sucuri Website Hacked Report 2016 Q1

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 

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 

Back To School! What Our Clients Learned About Digital Marketing Last Year!

by Jamie Rinehart,  Digital Marketing Strategist

backtoschool.jpgEvery morning I walk my Boxer, Bella, before work. Any season, any weather. I particularly relish the Summer walks for the obvious reasons, it's light and warm outside. Thus the past several months have been amazing! Yesterday, as I set out on my morning jaunt, I noticed a slight change in the air, a little fall bite. As I continued, my senses now keen to seasonal changes, I observed some other signs of fall; a stray orange leaf or two on the ground and the sun was taking its sweet time to peek it's face over Lake Michigan in the east. Then, I was smacked in the face with reality, as I saw a big yellow school bus rolling down the road.

FALL IS COMING! BACK TO SCHOOL!

Overcome with the nostalgia of back-to-school, I started thinking about how Digital Marketing and Web Development is a constant cycle of learning. Team Trivera and our clients are always striving to stay cutting edge. Whether we are getting a Digital Marketing Certificate from UWM, completing a Master's Degree or gaining the latest Google certifications, we are always learning and sharing that knowledge with clients.
Now, completely in the Back-to-school spirit, I asked some of our clients what THEY have learned about Digital marketing in the past year! Here is what they shared!

Bill McCormick - Natural Look Salon and Wigs

"As a sales and marketing professional with 25 years' experience, I've used traditional marketing venues such as brochures, trade publications, trade shows and newsletters to communicate to our customers or potential customers. Prior to our meeting with the Trivera team I viewed the idea of having a website about the same as having to have a sign outside our building. In other words I felt it was a necessary part of doing business, however I did not put much thought into how the website can be used to bring in new customers.
The Trivera team has opened our eyes to the digital marketing world. They have shown us how important it is to set up and structure our website to optimize our marketing efforts through the search engines of Google, Bing and others. We are excited about the aspects of SEO and what it can do for our business in attracting new customers to our store front and e-commerce business."


Erik Bergstrom - Dental Associates

"This photo was in a case study I presented at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network member meeting this summer. It shows a parking spot in the deck Dental Associates uses in downtown Milwaukee. I walked by this parking space one day and laughed at how many times they have altered the parking configuration. Then I thought to myself, "that reminds me of the typical social media strategy over the past decade!" Start in one direction, completely pivot to another direction, move back toward the original direction, then settle for something in the middle.

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While I was speaking about social strategy at the time, it really applies to any aspect of digital marketing. Change is constant, and you must be willing to adapt and innovate if you want to continue to succeed."


Haley Kloss - Rogers Behavioral Health

"In the past year as de facto database admin, I've been working on using data to really segment our email campaigns. When we can determine the nature of a client's relationship with our brand, we can make sure they are getting content they want. We've seen success when we make our messages more and more tailored.

I think the next step in this is going to be working on what kind of content we're putting out in our email campaigns. We certainly know what we want to tell people: new programs opening, this great thing one of our docs did, etc. But that's not necessarily what people care about. Relevant content is important. I feel like a lot of people forget that, especially in digital channels. It's easy to feel like we did our work because we sent an email, put it on social, posted it on the web. But, there are still times where the metrics say our message is falling flat. So, something for us to work on for the next year!"
 

This Fall as the weather changes, leaves fall and school busses fill the roads, get "back-to-school" and learn something new about Digital Marketing!

About Jamie Rinehart

Jamie Rinehart

Jamie leverages his 10+ years of Digital Marketing and Advertising account management experience to help new Trivera clients develop strategic digital marketing plans that will help them acheive their business and brand goals.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

2 Reasons the #MissingType Campaign Makes Social Cause Marketing Work

by Christina Steder, Trivera VP, Client Strategylogo_2015.jpg

Perhaps you've noticed Google's logo is missing some Os. Toronto too. Qantas is missing their As. All around the world, from news team anchors, to street signs, to movie and TV stars, people and companies are removing the letters A, B, and O from their names.

The #MissingType campaign is the brainchild of NHS Blood and Transplant and London-based PR agency Engine Group. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the need for blood donations. The hashtag has been posted nearly 10 million times, and has attracted influential followers such as the Mayo Clinic. This is the second year in a row the campaign has run.

Exposure like this is something many nonprofits only dream of. This particular campaign spans 21 countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and South Africa. So why is this campaign so successful when others are not?

First, it's relatively easy and it benefits the corporate partners. Sure, it takes planning for a company to cover up the appropriate letters on the sign outside their buildings or to create a modified version of their logo for online use, but it's not terribly difficult. The effort is worth it to the corporations because it can bring the corporate partner a lot of exposure for their involvement. I know this sounds cold-hearted, but the fact is that sponsorship is a MARKETING decision, not necessarily a community relations decision.

Second, this was not a low-budget, grassroots campaign. The agency behind the campaign, Engine Group, is a global company with offices in four countries. They probably spent months researching and planning the campaign. All those hours aren't free. The campaign is supported by videos and television ads, once again - not free. MHP Communications, one of the 10 largest PR firms in the UK, is handling a massive media outreach campaign. They're working with influencers. They have huge corporate partners. Even if NHS Blood is getting nonprofit discounts, all that work costs money.

Not all nonprofits can afford to market at this level. But some can and it's important to remember that even nonprofits have to spend money to get money. There is a balance between good stewardship of dollars and looking like you know what to do with the donations. There is a reason that large nonprofits can get millions of dollars in donations. They look like they know what to do with the money. Do you?

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. 

 

3 Reasons Email Marketing Is Not Dead.

by Christina Steder, Trivera VP of Client Strategy

AdobeStock_25774384.jpgIn the ever-changing world of digital marketing, the list of tactics that are available to reach your target audience is continuously growing. With so many new, interesting, and buzz-worthy options, it can be tempting to declare "older" techniques, such as email marketing, dead. Don't. Email marketing is very much alive and well, and it's something you should probably be using. Here's why:

  • Email marketing is mobile marketing. According to the Pew Research Center, 88 percent of smartphone users read email on their phones. In fact, email is a more widely-used smartphone feature than social networking, watching video, or using maps and navigation. Make sure your email marketing is optimized for mobile and think of it as a mobile marketing strategy. It sounds a lot more cutting-edge now, doesn't it?
     
  • Email marketing can be highly targeted. Today's consumers expect a personalized online experience. Email can deliver this, if you have a quality database and the ability to segment your audience.
     
  • Email marketing can increase online sales. Using email remarketing, online retailers can send personalized messages to website visitors with abandoned shopping carts. Retailers can also use email to nurture potential customers who are still in the information gathering stage or follow up on purchases.

Although we all get A LOT of email, we do notice the ones that matter. Email allows marketers to easily test messages and segment your audiences to deliver the information your customers need, when they need it. And that makes email marketing very much alive.

 

About Christina Steder

christina01.jpg

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. 

Is Your Brand Going for the Gold?

Rio2016OlympicLogo.jpgby Serene Mireles, Web Design/Front End Development Specialist

I'm very excited for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games (despite some of the controversy). I love to see countries and cultures come together; the camaraderie, dedication, and the amazing athletes and their accomplishments. As a designer, one of my favorite things about the Olympics is the branding and graphics. It excites me as much as watching the Games! We all know that a brand is more than a logo (at least I hope everyone knows that). Branding is all-encompassing; branding is emotional and perceptive. It's what people think of and how they feel when they hear your name; it's the color palette, the graphics, how everything comes together. When I think of the Olympics, I think of world-class athletes; people who have dedicated their lives to their sport; hard work and pride. How is that represented visually? Good branding is so seamless that people don't even notice. It's about representing the values and essence of the organization, product or service.

The Olympics' branding is strategic and the organization has set the bar high. Every Olympic games requires its own identity and look, while still representing the organization's core essence and values.

The Rio 2016 logo was designed by Brazil's Tátil Design, and the Olympic font was created by Dalton Maag, a British typeface firm. The bold, vibrant designs of the 2016 Olympics represent the diversity of Rio-the atmosphere, the energy, the people, the mountains, the beaches, and the city. The organic forms in the graphics express motion and performance. The designs can be seen in the logo, venues, products, uniforms, signage and displays. The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger." The motto was meant to inspire athletes to keep pushing themselves, to break records, and to accomplish their dreams. I think the motto can also be applied to designers and marketers to inspire them to push the envelope and think of new ideas that haven't been done before. I give the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games a Gold medal for branding.

How is your brand doing? If your brand isn't winning, it might be time to rethink your strategy and go for the gold.
 

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. 

Note: Although we're confident that nobody actually thinks Trivera is affiliated with the Olympics in any way other than watching the competition from the comfort of our homes and wishing we could achieve even 10 percent of what the athletes do, Rio 2016 Guidelines require us to inform you that Trivera is in no way affiliated with the Rio 2016 Games or the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Go USA!

A Shout-out to Trivera Client MMSD During Water Quality Month

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August is water quality month. Here at Trivera, we're observing the month by kicking off a new project for one of our newest clients, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. We've actually been working with MMSD since earlier this year, migrating all their web properties from an expensive proprietary Content Management System to Concrete5. We're well into the migration of milorganite.com, and are just now beginning to migrate the remaining MMSD brands: mmsd.com, Huntgreen, Basement Connection and Fresh Coast 740.

At Trivera, we start every client engagement with a brand discovery process. During MMSD's brand discovery, we learned some really interesting things about them and their commitment to the environment.
Did you know that MMSD:

  • Is responsible for water reclamation and flood management for about 1.1 million people
  • Serves 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee area
  • Allows licensed hunters to use MMSD land during hunting season
  • Has been recycling nutrient-rich microbes from the city's water reclamation process into Milorganite, a natural fertilizer, since 1926
  • Is committed to meeting a goal of having a net 100 percent of its energy supplied from renewable resources 

Trivera's efforts are focused on making MMSD's digital marketing efforts both more successful and more efficient. Greater results for less money means MMSD can continue to be great stewards of our natural resources while also making them more efficient with their financial resources.

Trivera is honored to be partners with this high profile agency, working to support their efforts to improve the quality of our water. You can learn more about MMSD and milorganite in this video: 

6 Ways That Neglecting Your Website is Killing Your Brand

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By Tom Snyder, President and CEO of Trivera

Over our 20 years in business, we have seen most of our customers fall into one of two categories. The first is the type that make their web presence a focus of a digital Marketing Stratgey, constantly updating, supporting, measuring, analyzing, improving and investing in it. The other type are the ones who contracted us to build their site, and despite our recommendations that digital marketing needs to be an ongoing process, and not just an event, still treated their launch like a drive-by.  The very vehicle that was supposed to help their business flourish in the growing digital economy now stands as a testimony to four, nine and even thirteen year old technology.  What may have been state of the art brand re-reinforcement at one time, is now the brand killing equivalent of a dilapidated building in a bad neighborhood.

When pressed to consider an update, a new focus, or additional inbound marketing efforts, the typical response is "we just don't have the money."  While that might seem like a justifiable and economical approach, it's short sighted. Your neglect is actually costing you money.

Here's why:

1.) Not regularly updating your website's content causes it to drop in ranking in search engines. Lower ranking means less traffic, resulting in fewer sales.

2.) Not executing a sound inbound marketing plan reduces the number of potential visitors who even know your site exists. That means less traffic, resulting in fewer sales.

3.) Not having an organic search engine optimization plan puts you behind all of your competitors who do. That not only means less traffic and fewer sales for you, but also more traffic and more sales for them.

4.) Not keeping up with the current best practices for navigation and visitor expectations for functionality reduces the number of site visitors who become customers. That means traffic is coming, but leaving without buying, resulting in fewer sales.

5.) Not keeping your Content Management System and operating environment up to date leaves it vulnerable to hacks and hijacks, causing things to not work in your site that you may not even be aware of. Sometimes it means your site is offline entirely. That means traffic is coming, getting frustrated because your site doesn't work properly...or at all...resulting in fewer sales (and maybe even thinking you've gone out of business).

6.) Not having a responsive site built around user journeys  loses the growing number of customers who use smartphones and tablets as their preferred web device. That means less traffic and more visitor frustration, both of which result in fewer leads/sales/conversions.

I've said before...ad naseum...that your brand is not your logo, it's the promise of an experience, and everything you do either reinforces or erodes that brand. And a crappy old website erodes your brand just as badly as letting your building get run down, not being able to provide the product or service your customer expects or making them put up with a  poor salesman or CSR.

With your website, you're either moving ahead or you're falling behind. Thinking that doing nothing keeps you where you are is a delusion.  The time to begin getting serious is long past, but before you start executing a hodgepodge of tactical efforts, the better plan for long term success is to take a strategic approach. 

Three Things You Absolutely Need to Know About Mobile

by Tom Snyder, Founder and CEO

Every day, I read articles about the trends and tricks other marketers are using to achieve success with their digital efforts, and post links to the best half dozen blogs and articles on Twitter. By now, smart marketers know enough to take a strategic approach to their efforts, focus on creating user journeys that result in conversion, and make sure their website is optimized for the right keywords. However, because it’s only become important recently, there are a lot of misconceptions about mobile marketing. Here are three you absolutely need to know:

1.) Your lack of mobile traffic to your website is BECAUSE of your non-mobile-friendly website, not proof that you don’t need to have one.

I’m constantly amazed by how many marketers tell me they have no need for a mobile friendly website because they don’t get many mobile visitors! There’s a reason for this. Did you know that Google removes non-responsive sites out of its results when people search on a mobile device? I recently showed a client an identical search on both a desktop and mobile device. Their site was on page one for the desktop search and totally disappeared from the same search done on a mobile device. 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. A mobile/responsive website should be your highest priority right now.
 
2.) B2B marketers need mobile too. 

A common misconception among many B2B marketers is that there aren't enough members of their target audience using mobile devices as part of their job to demonstrate meaningful ROI. However, research shows 49 percent of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for research do so while at workWith mobile use for B2B purchase research jumping 91% in the past two years, I can’t believe you’re flushing leads and sales by not providing a solid UX for the purchasers who choose to do business with you on mobile devices.

3.) While you DO need mobile UX, you probably DON’T need an app. 

Building an app is an expensive mistake if a fully responsive website will accomplish your goals. Research shows that a majority of mobile users only use a tiny handful of apps. Unless you are Facebook, chances are your app won’t be one of them. Most of the content and functionality people require (plus SEO ranking authority) can be accomplished with a robust mobile-optimized website. Unless all the functionality you're considering for your mobile users requires an app, please, don’t even consider spending money on one.

Bob Dylan said, "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." And you shouldn’t need me to tell you that the winds of success are strongly blowing in a mobile direction.  There’s still time in 2016 to get your mobile marketing on the right track.  Don’t make me have to tell you again next year.

3 Major League SEO Strategies to Ensure Your Blog Hits It Outta the Park Everytime!

homerun_opt.jpgby Katie Fleming, Search Engine Specialist

I find myself watching an abundance of baseball lately. Little league has become my life. I'm also doing a great deal of search engine optimization - sometimes at little league. (DON'T tell my kids!) What I've come to realize is that these seemingly very different aspects of my life are actually more similar than I had ever imagined. Baseball - and search engine optimization - are games we play and they have become, in their own respect, "America's Favorite Pastime."

Analyzing the similarities between these pastimes is easy: There are basic rules to be followed in order to succeed in the game and each game has an umpire to determine fair play.

In Search Engine Optimization, the umpire's name is usually "Google." If you're a new player, you're typically stuck on the bench or in the "Google Sandbox" until you've proven you're capable of holding your own on the field. Once you've figured it out, they bring in a new pitcher who throws you a curve ball. In SEO, this would be Google changing its algorithm again.

The most heartbreaking reality is when you're playing well, winning, and your competitor hits a grand slam causing your team to lose despite your best efforts. That indicates it's time to revisit your strategy. In baseball, and in Search Engine Optimization, a good coach is the difference between winning consistently and a losing streak that might ruin your season, or cost you your audience. Here are some major league coaching tips that will have you swinging for the fences every time your blog is at bat...and help keep you and your team in the "W" column!

1. Fresh and original content is key! Sometimes you need a fresh arm or a DH to ensure a win. The same is true of SEO and blogging. Don't copy/plagiarize other's content. Make it your own and make it fresh and new. This might seem obvious, but session IDs, URL parameters, and printer friendly pages can all create duplicate content. Make sure your meta tags are different too.

2. Use long-tail keywords. Long-tailed keywords are great for blogs. They can bring valuable traffic to your site with little competition. Do your research and pick one niche topic. You want to be specific and ensure your audience fills the stands. Do not keyword stuff your blog.

3. Finally, monitor your blog. Every good team manager keeps stats on their team. You need to do this as well. Check Google Analytics to get to know your fan base. Where and how are they finding you? Track their interests and behavior and set up conversion tracking. Beware of "spam traffic." They will always have a 00:00:00 average session duration. You can filter those spoilers out of your Google analytics traffic and block them with your .htaccess code. Nobody wants a hater in the stands next to them!

Finally, remember it takes a team effort to create a winning season. We're always here for you and ready to help you get to the Big League, so let us know if you need a new head coach, base coach or even a relief pitcher for your SEO and we'll suit up for YOUR team! Play Ball!

image licensed by adobe stock

About Katie Fleming

katie01.jpgKatie Fleming is one of Team Trivera's SEO/SEM/DIgital Advertising Specialists.  In her role, Katie  has a proven record of success in managing our clients’ successful SEO and PPC campaigns by achieving measurable results  and driving ROI.

6 Steps to Building Your Content Marketing Machine

AdobeStock_78484725.jpgBy Jeff Ganger, Trivera Interactive

You have a problem. The phone isn’t ringing. You need to fill your pipeline and hit your sales goals. You aren’t happy with the the marketing tactics you are using, and you know your website can be utilized as a more effective sales and marketing tool. The solution? Develop and implement content marketing.

What is content marketing? Here is a great definition from Corey Wainright at Hubspot:

Content marketing is a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience -- usually online -- the goal of which is to attract new customers.

The most common components of a content marketing program are social media networks, blogs, visual content, and premium content assets -- like tools, ebooks, or webinars.

I’m inclined to just use the term “digital marketing” because content marketing is a component of an overall online marketing strategy. Since most of our time is spent online, either through our phones or our computers, it’s where the bulk of our attention is held and where companies have been experiencing the greatest marketing ROI over the past several years. That trend is only going to grow in the near future.

So, what are the components to a successful marketing plan that is designed to bring in more sales? We have identified the following 6-step process that covers the basics of the content marketing methodology.

1. Create a strategy and identify the tactics to use
Begin by identifying your goals and objectives, your ideal customers, where they spend their time online, and defining key performance indicators as well as how you will measure ROI.

2. Create and maintain a strong website
This sounds obvious, but a great site is one that makes it easy for your ideal users to navigate and interact with you, AND allows you to build new pages or add content frequently. Develop your website using a solid, open source content management system (CMS) such as Concrete5 (our favorite) or WordPress, then apply solid user experience (UX) principles. Once your site is built, constantly monitor your goals in Google Analytics to understand your site’s performance and where your visitors are dropping off.

3. Generate more traffic (Blogging, Social Media, SEO)
This is where the rubber hits the road. Create content that is useful and informative to your ideal clients, and then publicize that content on social media. Blog articles can generate up to 55% more traffic for your site, and two-thirds of internet users are on social media1. Bottom line: if you aren’t publishing content, you are missing out on potential sales. Be sure to use an SEO expert to ensure that your content is optimized. This is important, since 46% of internet searches are specifically for products and services. You can also use PPC, Facebook ads, and other paid methods of generating traffic to your site.

4. Convert traffic to leads (Create an offer, capture email, nurture leads)
This is the heart of content marketing. By offering white papers, buyer’s guides, eBooks, webinars, podcasts, and demos in exchange for email and other contact information, you convert your visitors to leads. This allows you opportunity to connect with these leads to build a relationship.

5. Convert leads to sales (Nurture leads via email and phone)
Add email information to your CRM or your email campaign software, then use your software to connect with your leads and engage with them. By providing targeted, specific information that is of interest to them, you nurture the relationship and lead them further down the sales funnel. By following up and providing helpful information and answering questions, the sales staff can convert these leads to sales.

6. Measure your website data. Adjust monthly.
Google Analytics can help you set goals for your website and measure its performance. Some metrics to include:

• Traffic to leads
• Leads to customers
• Cost per lead
• Cost per customer

Telling your story and offering valuable information is the basis for a solid digital marketing strategy. By understanding the basic concepts of the content marketing process, you can build a powerful sales tool that will position you as a trusted expert and help you target and land clients you really want.

Was this article helpful? What else would you like to know about? Let us know!

If you’d like to know more about the process and how we can help, drop me a line or connect with me:

Twitter: @jeffraaay 
Instagram: papa.gang 

1 Source: Hubspot 
2 Source: Hubspot 
image licensed by adobe stock

About Jeff Ganger 

jeffcrop.jpgJeff Ganger is one of Team Trivera's Digital Marketing Strategists.  In his role, Jeff assists our clients by creating digital marketing strategies that include websites, social media, and inbound marketing tactics to reinforce their brands and drive ROI.