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Jessica Dunbar returns to Team Trivera

5b26b353fbeaea51b91dc5dd4c8cc19a1.jpegJessica Dunbar left us for a little while to explore other opportunities, but recently clicked the heels of her ruby slippers three times, said "there's no place like home" and found herself back as part of Team Trivera.

Jess has returned as our Emerging Technology Sherpa. Whether it's SEO, Content Management Systems, Platforms, Frameworks or Growth Hacks, Jess is the team member who explores, identifies, recommends and helps us implement all the next "Best Practices" in our space.

When she's not helping to direct our paths, Jess fills in wherever and whenever we have a need. Jess is experienced in organic Search Engine Optimization, web development, system administration and project management.

Jess has spoken on Search Engine Optimization both in the US and Europe and recently was featured in the European edition of Web Designer Magazine. Jess' preferred development platforms are the Joomla! and Concrete5 CMSes, using them to develop international, multilingual websites. Jess is an active member with the Joomla! Community, and assists in producing regional Joomla developer events throughout the midwest. Prior to joining Trivera from 2010 to 2013, Jess was a developer at Open Source Support Desk and a network administrator for A Plus Business Forms. During her time away from Trivera, she was Marketing Director for Anything Digital and Watchful LLC. She was also Marketing Lead for Joomla!, a role she will continue.

Yikes! What's Up With Your Website?

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The amount of stuff wrong with the average company website is flabbergasting. And I'm not just talking about those free DIY websites. Or the ones designed by low cost, low talent developers. Or even the ones that some agencies pretending to understand digital best practices charged way too much for.

As someone whose job it is to stay on top of current industry best practices, I can tell you that the rate at which the criteria changes is often overwhelming. And so, I'm even talking about the sites that solid firms like Trivera may have built for you a year or two ago.

Thus the need for regular, in depth site audits. If done correctly, those audits take a look at the following barometers of website health:

1.) SEO. The algorithms that search engines use to determine whether a site comes up on page 1, 10, or not at all, change weekly. While Google uses dozens of specific criteria to determine where your site comes up in searches, the overarching consideration that it uses now is whether or not people "like" your site. A significant number of people who come to your website may not.

A professional site audit will help identify the things that may be preventing you from getting the SEO rank you deserve. Correcting those issues will be the key to appearing above the fold on page one, the only place where meaningful click-throughs happen.

2.) Content. Your website communicates specific things to specific site visitors. To human visitors, it provides the necessary information to reinforce your brand's value proposition, spoken in a voice that reflects your brand personality. To the indexing spiders the search engines send to your site, it gives them information they need to determine whether or not your site will come up when certain keywords are searched for. The trick is crafting content that will do both.

A professional site audit will evaluate the effectiveness, readability, clarity, necessity, depth and formatting of all your content (text, graphics, tags, video, and supporting files).

3.) Page Design and Layout. People have conscious and subconscious expectations of what every website needs to have, and where...and how...it needs to be displayed. If it’s not right, they won't like it. It's bad enough that Google will penalize you for that, but even worse, if people do find your website, they'll be less likely to do business with you.

A professional site audit will help identify whether your site measures up and what needs to be done to build and strengthen your brand relationships.

4.) Device-Dependent User Experience. With mobile device web usage predicted to surpass desktop/laptop usage, it's critical to have a user experience that is equally rewarding and easy to use for all your visitors regardless of device. Just scaling your desktop site to display on a smartphone with navigation too small to read on tiny displays and buttons designed for mouse clicks, not fat fingers, drives mobile visitors away.

A professional site audit will tell you if you're getting, and capitalizing on, the amount of mobile traffic that you should be.

5.) Conversions. The goal of your website is to attract and convince potential customers to do business with you, and if possible even facilitate the transaction. A website that makes your brand hard to identify, your message unclear and transactions hard to execute prevents that.

A professional site audit identifies those barriers and obstacles so they can be removed, allowing your website to be a revenue generator, and not just an expense.

6.) Security Vulnerabilities. The web is teaming with hackers and crackers who find their identities (and their fortunes) in locating and taking advantage of websites they can exploit. Their methods include creating fake login screens to steal credit card, bank and personal info, and even using those hijacked sites to send the thousands of spam emails that send the unwitting there to be fooled

A professional site audit will be able to gauge how likely your site is to be used to trick people into using your site to give their money to crooks.

These are just some of the items that a professional site audit does for your digital presence. Just like it's impossible to effectively proof-read your own copy, it's also impossible to perform a complete and effective audit on your own site. Site audits are one of Trivera's core competencies. Virtually every site can use a talented set of eyes like ours to take a look at it through the above lenses, say "yikes," and get it on the road to success.

Let us know when we can take a peek at yours.

Date Set for Social Media University 2014

SMUM2014-logo.jpgIn the summer of 2009, Trivera produced Social Media University, the very first conference of its kind in Milwaukee. Nearly 400 marketers, business owners and agencies gathered at the Italian  Conference Center to learn about this potentially powerful, but still relatively unknown marketing vehicle. Now 5 years later, experience has replaced theory, and reality has eclipsed the optimism. Still a leading authority on Social Media, Trivera presents another daylong event on June 11, 2014 to educate and inspire the market about the importance of all aspect s of social media in your marketing and business strategy.

DSC_6725.JPGThis year's event will be held at Potawatomi's Woodland Dreams Ballroom and Expo Center on 17th and Canal St.  Centrally located, the facility provides easy access, more room, and free parking for attendees.

Just like last event, the focus will be on providing you with practical hands-on knowledge from experts who are in the trenches helping real businesses and organizations just like yours, to successfully use Social Media as a marketing and business tool with the insight of 5 years of hands on experience  Several speakers have already been confirmed on a wide array of topics:

  • Tom Snyder (President, CEO, Trivera) - Social Media 5 Years Later - Strategy is Still The Key
  • Christina Steder (President, Clear Verve Marketing) - Integrating Traditional and Social Media, Not Only Possible but Necessary
  • Wayne Breitbarth (Author) -  LinkedIn, your B2B Social Media Secret Weapon
  • Christopher Graham (Digital Media Specialist, Potawatomi Bingo Casino) - Managing and Measuring Your Social Media Efforts
  • Paul Stillmank (President and CEO, 7 Summits) - Business Benefits of Building Internal and External Online Communities
  • Michelle D'Attilio and Jeanette Pham (Sosh) - Creating and Maintaining a Social Media Editorial Calendar
  • Chris Remington (VP Business Development and Client Strategies, Trivera) - Keeping Your Website Relevant in a Social Media World
  • Katie Fleming and Cory Ampe (Trivera) - How Social Media impacts Your Position in the Search Engines


Other sessions will include the latest techniques to help you understand and leverage Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and Pinterest (presenters to be announced).

DSC_6857.JPGA panel discussion will reunite members from  the  similar panel of  five years ago and add a few others to share the secrets to the successes they have achieved as Social Media...and their business paths...have evolved over the last 5 years. Panel members include: Joe Woelfle (Blatz Liquor, now State Farm Insurance), Joe Sorge (Founder of AJ Bombers and now President  of -  Hospitality Democracy), Scott Baitinger (Founder of Streetza Pizza, now CMO at Verlo Mattress Factory Stores), and Leslie Rivers (Marketing Associate- Milwaukee Ballet).

Rounding out the day will be an afternoon keynote from a digital strategist from a brand you know and trust ( to be announced shortly).

A variety of exhibitors will have booths to showcase their products and services. And the day will be capped off by a networking reception with cash bar.

DSC_0855.JPGTickets are $139, ($129 if 3 or more from the same company register at the same time) and include continental breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages. Because some speakers are yet to be announced, we're offering early bird registration tickets at $119 each till March 31st. Register at SocialMediaMilwaukee.com

The first Social Media University Milwaukee sold out. Buy your tickets early to reserve your spot. Don't miss out! Follow @GoSMUM on Twitter, or find Social Media Unversity - Milwaukee on Facebook.

Cory Ampe Joins Trivera

bio-cory-opt.jpgCory Ampe has joined the Trivera team as Client Services Director.  

Cory has worked in marketing for more than 16 years. Prior to coming aboard, she was most recently at Trade Press Media Group, and before that, Fullhouse Interactive.

Cory began her career as a magazine editor where she honed her writing and storytelling skills. On the client side, she's worked for a large financial institution, a satellite-based internet infrastructure service provider and a business-to-business media company. In her agency work, she worked with clients of all sizes -- from non-profit NGOs to leading brands such as Johns Hopkins Medicine and Miller Brewing Co. -- to bolster brands and engage and convert coveted audiences.

When you trust Trivera for your digital marketing success, Cory will be your point of contact for the time your project is in our pipeline, and beyond. 

As Trivera's client services director, she will lead your project kickoff meeting, act as your advocate to our production team and be the voice of your weekly progress calls till project completion.  Leveraging her deep experience in branding; strategic communications planning; email marketing; advertising; social media; content marketing; SEO/SEM,  Cory will also develop and present the monthly ongoing reports that will help you analyze and improve the performance of your marketing efforts,

When not at Trivera, Cory is having fun with her daughter Darla (age 4.75) and son Louis (age 17 months). She enjoys camping, cooking, movies and listening to music. Shortly after graduating from UW-Milwaukee, Cory moved to her second-favorite city, Baltimore, where she worked for a boutique advertising and marketing agency to support her relentless pursuit of film director John Waters. Cory returned to the Milwaukee area in 2004 to marry Trivera Interactive alum Jeremy Ampe. She has remained a friend and fan of Trivera since her first encounter with the company and is thrilled to now be an official member of the team.

Trivera Turns 18!

happy18thbirthday.jpgRegardless of our age, we all celebrate our birthdays every year. But, there are a few birthdays that mark milestones.  Sweet 16 marks a passage to the age where one can drive a car. 21 is when one is legally allowed to consume alcohol. 30, 40 and 50 are often marked with black balloons and taunts of being over the hill. I'm facing...gasp...my big 6-0 in February (or as I've chosen to call it, my second 30th birthday), but I digress.

One of the most special birthdays is the 18th. It marks the passage from youth to adulthood. You're reckoned by society as wise and mature enough to vote, get married without parental consent, and serve your country in the military. 

Today, Trivera celebrates our 18th birthday.  Back on January 16th, 1996, we became one of the very first...and one of only a handful of...web design and development agencies in Wisconsin.

At the time, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari didn't exist, just Mosaic and Firefox's predecessor Netscape. There was neither a Google nor a Bing  - the top search engines were Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Webcrawler and Infoseek. There was no eBay, Netflix or Wikipedia.  Joomla!, Drupal, Wordpress and Concrete5 were all years from being born. Email marketing and Social Media didn't exist. Nor did Digg, Tumblr or even RSS. Smartphones, mobile devices, tablets, iPhones and iPads hadn't been invented. Pinterest, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or even MySpace? Not even on the drawing board! There was no broadband or wifi - internet connections came via a slow dial-up modem.  And 87% of all businesses polled in a survey said that the web was a fad, and they would never have a need for it. Ever. 

Our name back then was Websight Solutions, and our tagline was "web sites with vision." Fitting because back then, anyone who was doing anything on the web had to be visionary. Jeff Bezos had just started Amazon.com. Jerry Yang and David Filo had just incorporated Yahoo!. Craig Newmark had just launched Craig's List.

And there was us.

But we convinced Usinger's, Mitchell Airport, and FrankMayer and Associates to take their first leap onto the web. In those early years, our other early adopters inlcuded Aurora and Ministry Health Care, Holy Hill, the Marcus Center, Milwaukee Harley-Davidson and Mustela. Since then, we've been proud to have also helped other noteworthy locally-based brands like Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Strattec Security Corporation, Simplicity, Perlick and Dental Associates, as well as national brands like Motorola, Lotus, Frabill, and Panasonic.  We just started working on Frank Mayer and Associates' 43rd project, and are just wrapping up Mitchell Airport's 30th. In a few weeks, InvestorsBank becomes the most recent member of the Trivera story with the launch of their new site

Despite the fact that over 18 years we've seen the web go from infancy to youthful exuberance and on to a mature and necessary component of every business' marketing arsenal, for most marketers, how to make it work is still is a mystery. So we've been honored to have hundreds of other clients ask us to help them figure it out. Some big,  some small, some household names, others obscure to all but their niche customers.  But the one thing they all have in common is that they needed someone to help them navigate through the rapidly evolving, and quite confusing world of digital marketing, web design, e-commerce, email marketing, search engine marketing, Social Media and mobile, and they chose to trust us, originally as Websight Solutions, then as wirestone, and now for the last dozen years as Trivera.  

2014 will be a year of bold new plans: new customers, new partners, continued expansion, and the 5 year reunion edition of 2009's Social Media University. So Happy Birthday to us! Thanks to our awesome clients for their years of support, and our awesome team members who helped us earn that support. As we blow out the candles on our birthday cake, our wish is for another 18 years of success for us, but more importantly for all our clients because they've given us the opportunity to help them succeed.

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5 Visitor Groups Your Website Needs To Be Ready For

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Your presence on the web has never been more important to the success of your brand.  It's also never been subject to more circumstances, elements and efforts that can damage it. And the only thing necessary for every bad thing imaginable to happen to it, is for you to do nothing and think your site is doing fine. So it just boggles my mind that so many marketers and business owners choose to sit back and let failure happen.

Website success has always been about who will be coming to your site, how they will access the site, what they're hoping to accomplish, and what will..or won't...happen when they get there.  While everyone hopes that it will simply be customers who will come and engage in a business transaction, it's a lot more complicated than that.  There are actually 5 easily identifiable groups of visitors who require strategic efforts that you'd better be prepared for.

Because, ready or not, here they come:

1.) Hackers, Crackers and Internet Miscreants  

Unless it's more than a few years old, your website is likely built on a Content Management System (CMS). Just like any other software product,  that system has likely had improvements made to it over time. In addition to feature improvements, every upgrade since it was first built also contains critical security enhancements. Legions of hackers are scouring the web every minute of every day trying to find old and vulnerable installations of Joomla!, Drupal, Wordpress and Concrete5 and using them to execute mass identity theft. I don't know if it's a fear of change or just a reluctance to spend the money on repairs should a CMS upgrade "break" the site. Regardless, the thousands of out of date websites are a jackpot for hackers.  Unless you have an upgrade plan in place, there's a good chance that someday thousands of people will be getting a fake email that looks like it came from their bank, but actually came from your site. Not only that, but then they'll click a link to log into a fake bank login page on your site and give identity theives the info they need to drain their real bank account. Because this activity leads to blacklisting, site shutdowns, and even potnetial legal consequences it's not the kind of traffic you want. But if you're not regulalry upgrading your CMS, it's the easiest and mosty likely traffic you'll get.

2.) People With Browsers Newer Than Your Site 

Every time a new version of a web browser is released, design and functional elements on your website that may have worked before  potentially malfunction or totally fail on the new one. If your website was built in 2009, it was tested to work on Firefox version 3. The current release is version 24.  Internet Explorer was on version 8. They've just released version 11. Safari 4 was the current version, but has now been replaced by version 7. Unless you've upgraded your site, or conducted ongoing browser compatibility testing, you have had people coming to your website to do business with you, but either can not or choose not to because the site doesn't work for them. And while that number has grown every month, that's a growth metric you don't want. 

3.) Mobile Device Users

Smartphones and tablets are no longer just for "people on the go." For millions of people, they are the preferred method of acessing the web. If your website isn't formatted to provide a visitor an optimal visual and navigational experience regardless of the device they'e using, you've essentially told half your potential customers that you're really not interested in their business.  And they are happily taking that business to sites that are. 

4.) Social Media Enthusiasts

Word of mouth has always been one of the most effective forms of marketing. Social Media takes that power to a new level.   Does your site have a blog? A pressroom? Videos? Do your pages have Facebook "Like," Twitter "Tweet This," Pinterest "Pin it," and Google "Plus 1" icons?  The jury may still be out on the extent that your execution of a Social Media plan will create meaningful inbound traffic. However, your site still needs to be updated to include the kinds of content that is easily shared in Social Media channels, and the tools that make it easy to do so. If it doesn't, you are missing the opportunity to take advantage of the viral referral power of your visitors' social savvy and their inclination to share your brand with their professional and social networks.

5.) Search Engine Traffic

The sad fact is that, unless you've been keeping up with the major changes in the way Google produces results to search queries and making sure your site has been adapting to accommodate those changes, the number of qualified customers coming to your site as a result is steadily declining. If you think that Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird are zoo animals, and an algorithm is a catchy tune about a former vice-president, your share of the 125 billion searches per month is pretty close to zero, and getting closer every day. Those are the people who aren't coming. But if your site isn't set up to show up on page one with meaningful and accurate search results and instead send unqualified visitors to your site, the ones who do come will leave your site as quickly as they came. Those are called bounces, and the more of those you get, the lower Google will rank you in their searches.  A strategic Search Engine Optimization plan is the only way to get meaningful numbers of qualified visitors to come to your site. 

 

While there are other elements that will contribute to a successful web strategy (email, direct and traditional marketing), this list represents the minimum effort necessary to just avoid failure.  With a new year beginning in just a few months, now is the time to plan your budget for setting up and executing a strategic plan that systematically optimizes your site to create the right outcome for every one of these groups and help your web presence reinforce, and not erode your brand, and more importantly, contribute to your bottom line.

 

About Trivera:

Your growing business is faced with more challenges than ever before. Managing your online presence in the face of tightening budgets and steadily increasing customer expectations can be a difficult and complex task.

Trivera’s proven approach to web design and development builds your online brand with smart design and creative technology. We’ve been helping companies like yours since 1996, growing our capabilities along with the web to serve the needs of our diverse mix of clients.

For most compnaies, the web is a cloud of confusion. Our experienced team excels in managing your projects for the greatest return on your investment using a proven, collaborative process that delivers results on time, on budget and on target. Our mission is to provide you with the knowledge, service, products and ROI that will make you a hero.

Bob Sabinash Returns to Trivera

Bob SabinashThe newest member of Team Trivera also has the honor of being one of the oldest. After an 8 year stint at Northwoods Software, Bob Sabinash comes back to the same company he spent 6 years at a decade ago, as Trivera's Vice President of Business Development.

"Over the years, we have had several employees who were literally the heart and soul of our company, but had the opportunity to explore new opportunties. We are more than delighted to have one of them back," said Trivera President and Founder Tom Snyder. "Bob was an incredible business development specialist when he was here last time. With 8 more years of market experience, he brings even more potential...and a fresh perspective...to our team." 

Bob joins Director of Client Strategy and Business Development Chris Remington to identify companies and organizations who can be helped by Trivera's smart design and creative technology solutions, craft strategic service offerings and get those projects into Trivera's production pipeline. 

Says Sabinash "I am grateful to have been asked to rejoin the company at a very exciting time in its evolution, and I’m excited about the path Trivera is on."

Trivera recently announced plans to double in size in the next 12 months by adding a full compliment of marketing, advertising and PR services to their services, as well as adding Microsoft-based content management systems to their already robust array of Linux/Open Source solutions. 

Bob's philsophy of communication and education as key in the sales process dovetails perfectly with Trivera's. "Sharing what we do and why we do it, and asking questions, builds a solution set that fulfills the primary goal but also strategically and tactically sets clients on a path for success." Adds Sabinash. "I also believe in transparency and follow through in Customer Service."

You can reach Bob at bob@trivera.com or 262-250-9400.

10 Steps to Digital Marketing Success

iStock_000023903000XSmallIn our last blog, we listed the 6 ways your neglected website is costing you money. If you are one of the rare businesses whose website is producing piles of revenue even though you haven't updated it in years, this isn't for you.

But, if you can use additional sales revenue from your digital channels, read on.

Our mantra has always been that a web site is not an event, it's a process. That process requires ongoing effort, attention and investment to maximize revenue and value.

As a digital marketing firm, having clients who hire us to build a website, only to let it languish in neglect and produce mediocre results does neither us nor the client any good. So here at Trivera, our focus is taking responsibility for our clients' total online success by having all new clients sign annual contracts, where the website development is only the fourth element in a ten point plan for success.

Here are the steps that we believe are necessary for success, and the reasons we include each:

1.) Discovery

Your success begins with defining your goals. What specific results do you expect your digital marketing efforts to produce? If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there? Whether it's increased sales for an e-commerce site, new leads for your sales staff to cultivate, heightened awareness for your brand or more traffic to improve ad revenue, it's only by setting specific goals that will give yourself a target to hit. And as your partner, we need to make sure we're all on the same page.

2.) Development of a Marketing Strategy and Tactical Recommendations

Even thinking about tactics before you develop your strategy is a waste of time. Things like "Getting on Twitter" are just tactics. Achieving the goals you defined in step one requires a broad and deep plan. Understanding your brand in a way to be able to communicate your value proposition and personality to your current and future fans well enough to determine is what helps you decide if ANY Social Media is an effective vehicle. That's your strategy. It's your guide to determine what tactics will be appropriate and effective in helping you achieve your goals.

3.) Search Engine Optimization Plan

Guessing at a few keywords and trying get on page one of Google for those keywords is the recipe for SEO failure. Unfortunately, it is the "plan" most businesses and organizations are using. Is your target audience even searching for what you offer with those keywords? Do you know which keyword phrases will produce results, and which will bounce people back to Google to find another result (something actually causes search engine rankings to decrease)? Do you know the difference between branded and non-branded traffic and why it's important? Do you know how to uncover which keyword phrases will produce the number of non-bouncing visitors you'll need to achieve your specific success goals? If you don't know the answers to these (and a half dozen other basic questions most SEO specialists understand instinctively), Google will be nothing but a constant frustration and financial albatross.

4.) Creation of a fully optimized website

The creation of a website is the sum total of what many web design/development firms do. But optimization is the necessary ingredient to a successful digital strategy that many of them miss. Turning visitors into customers requires an understanding of conversion rates and what affects them. Will your site create sales or discourage them? Will people coming on tablets and smartphones be comfortable or frustrated? Will the transactional goal of the site be easy to find regardless of how, when and where visitors enter the site, or will they get lost in a maze of unnecessary information, steps, clicks and questions?

Within a fraction of a second, most visitors have judged you and made up their mind about your brand. Virtually every element of the site... the choice of content management systems, home page layout, order and depth of the navigational choices, words per page and whether they are paragraphs or bullet points, size, position and quality of images, color choices...impact the visitor's opinion of you. Unless your approach is strategic, and your developer understands how all of this impacts your visitors' perceptions and decisions, you won't get a successful digital marketing tool, you'll get a website. Nothing more. Certainly not success.

Here's where many people stop, thinking they are now done and success will just happen. Actually, this is where the real work begins.

5.) Execution of website content marketing efforts.

Your site is tested and launched, but almost immediately your blog, press room, content, product details, demonstration videos and other content will require ongoing effort to maintain their freshness. Keeping the site updated is only a part. Keeping the rest of the places out on the web that drive traffic to your site updated is even more important. That means email newsletters and promotions, outbound PR, commenting on other sites' blogs, and legitimate link building.

6.) Execution of ongoing SEO and SEM tactics

Just as your website is not an event, neither is your SEO. The algorithms that determine who makes it to page one of a search change frequently. What worked last month probably doesn't work this month. Knowing what has changed and what you need to do to take advantage of those changes requires effort and expertise. And it never ends.

7.) Execution of Social Media tactics

Here's where agencies and gurus who only do Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, fail. Sun Tzu said "Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." I've dealt with this topic enough that it doesn't need to be repeated here other than to say this step will only help your digital marketing plan become successful if the tactics are being used as part of a larger strategy.

8.) Execution of traditional marketing tactics

Just because this is a digital marketing plan it doesn't mean you need to stop doing traditional marketing. If your strategic target can be effectively reached via direct mail, print and traditional electronic media, you hurt yourself by regarding them as obsolete or irrelevant. You'll just want to make sure you're tracking your efforts to make sure you only continue the ones that result in demonstrable results.

9.) Monthly measurement of key performance indicators

Remember those goals you outlined 7 or 8 steps ago? How are you doing? Tools exist to measure site traffic, bounce rate, conversion rates, popular navigational paths, transaction values, SEO ranking, social media sentiment. You don't have to be using them daily. Weekly or monthly may be adequate.

10.) Adjustment of efforts to continue to produce maximum ROI

Because targets and goals are part of your strategy, and you're measuring your results, you know what you need to do more of, and what to do less of to produce the results you're striving for. And you're in the zone of increasing your results, and reducing your costs.

Sound like a lot of work? It is. If success was easy, everyone would be successful. Whether you hire a firm like Trivera, or handle it internally, the steps to success are still the same. How many of them are you neglecting?

Social Media: What’s That Sound?

iStock_000014305728XSmall-300x199[1]For years, clients have been asking us if they needed to get on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google Plus. Now everyone’s asking about Pinterest. Our answer has never changed: “Don’t even think about any of them until you define your strategy."

In his timeless book “The Art of War," Sun Tzu wrote: “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Those ancient words perfectly describe the all-too-common sound we’re hearing these days: the din of multitudes of marketers’ failed Social Media efforts.

It’s the sound of businesses getting on Twitter not knowing what they’re supposed to be doing there. Market awareness, brand reinforcement, lead generation, public relations, media outreach, reputation management, customer service, coupon code distribution and consumer research are all possible tactical uses for Twitter. But until a strategy has been created to determine the right tactics, those tweets are just the noise before defeat.

It’s the sound of businesses creating Facebook fan pages, not knowing if their brand supporters are even there, investing huge amounts of time and effort to try to create results they have not defined, and buying display ads that nobody sees or promoted posts that people hate. Just more noise before the inevitable defeat.

It’s the sound of websites dropping off page one of Google searches because of blogs being written solely as a “Social Media" tactic or Google Plus being ignored as just “that Social Media tool no one uses." And it’s the sound of huge Pay-per-click expenditures because they don’t know how Social Media contributes to their organic SEO.

It’s the sound of missed opportunities as many consumers opt for YouTube and Pinterest over Google as their preferred search engines, and businesses with no clear strategy have no clue what to do with either of them.

As the lines continue to blur between all media: traditional, digital and social, a disjointed tactical approach to any of them is just the noise before defeat. The sweet sound of success will only be found in all of them as tactical elements of a larger integrated marketing strategy.

(this article also appeared in the April 1, 2013 edition of the BizTimes)

Out with Old, In with the New

It's been said "Don't look back, unless that's where you're headed."  But I hope you'll accept my apology as we take a look at the adventure that was 2009 one last time before we launch into an exciting new year.

One year ago, my wife/business partner predicted that something big was going to happen this year. We had no idea at the time, but she was definitely right.

A big story of the year was the economy.  As budgets were cut and some  companies even went out of business, Trivera committed to keeping our staff intact, a move that enabled us to superserve existing clients, but also helped us gain the confidence of a large list of new ones. New to our staff this year was a great addition: account manager Chris Remington, who has also added "Trivera blogger" to his duties with a great end of year contribution.

Major new Web projects for existing clients Mitchell Airport, Usinger's, Halquist Stone, Zach Builders and Nuemann Development worked their way through our pipeline this year. We also worked with long time partner ClearVerve Marketing to implement a re-design of their site. Frank Mayer and Associates, Mustela USA and ATL continued aggressive Search Engine Optimization programs with us.

But new clients represented the lion's share of our traditional Web business in 2009.  Among the clients who were able to experience the joy of working with Trivera for the first time: Frabill Manufacturing, Strattec Security, Sellars, Vaportek, US Peacekeeper Products, Renewable Energy Solutions, Chemrite Copac, Breckenridge Landscape, SoHoBizTube, Amici's Restaurant, JailHouse Restaurant, Deductive Energy, Studio 5-D, Western Racket and Fitness, Fresh Coast Partners, and South Shore Dentists.

We also began a great partnership with Chicago agency TargetCom, which resulted in projects for US Cellular and Kellogg School of Management.

But the huge story of the year was the emergence of Social Media as a powerful tool in brand strategies. Our Social Media University - Milwaukee event in July drew nearly 400 people to the Italian Community Center for a day of hands-on learning. As a result of that event, Trivera has helped dozens of businesses create their Social Media program, and several of them have contracted us for more significant ongoing SM implementation. Those include Mitchell Airport and two major political campaigns. The event, our ongoing work and a dozen speaking engagements by Trivera staffers has launched Trivera into the media spotlight as an authority on Web 2.0. And the power of Social Media manifested itself in a big way by creating dozens of new collaborative partnerships with other businesses in our space.

As you can see, 2009 has been a year worth looking back at. But as we wrap up a solid year, we look forward in anticipation to an even better 2010. Our move back to a historic building in Menomonee Falls will give us an infusion of great creative energy.  A large project with a national brand through our partnership with TargetCom is slated to begin in first quarter. Several other big projects with companies whose names you'll recognize should fall in line in January. And we we begin our first major collaborative relationship with Hartman Design, a neighbor in our new space, in serving new client Regalware.

And we're planning on an even bigger and better sequel to Social Media University - Milwaukee in March.

So with seatbelts and tray tables in their upright and locked positions, we're ready for takeoff. We hope you'll grab a seat with us as we wish both you and ourselves a shamelessly successful New year!

Invasion of the Brand Snatchers

Posted by Tom Snyder

Don't look now, but you've lost control of your brand.

Yeah, we could make all sorts of other movie title jokes about it. Like "Dude, Where's My Message," "Silence of the Brands" and "Raiders of the Lost Trademark."

But it's not a joking matter. Brand managers are scared. They should be. The simple fact is that Web2.0 takes control of your brand out of your hands and places it right in the hands of a vocal, viral and painfully honest public.

Back in the good old days of Web 1.0, companies still were able to maintain a great degree of control of their brand. The Web was just another platform that allowed them to control the message, the appearance, the terms of engagement and the public perception of their name, their message, their reputation and what they wanted the public to know or believe about their product or service. Happy customers told one person, unhappy customers told ten. Not a good ratio, but it was still manageable. And it was easy to drown out a couple thousand unhappy people with a big newspaper ad, pr campaign or TV Commercial.

Web2.0 has changed the game. A customer can still tell one or ten, but with Social Media elements like Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, online communities, sites like Epinions, YouTube, and Twitter, that customer can also tell 1,000, 10,000, 100,000... a million. And each of those can turn around and amplify that same message to hundreds of thousands of their friends, and their friends' friends.

And you can't stop it.

Most marketers...and hopefully you, too...know that your brand is not your logo. It's also not your visual identity, print brochure, jingle or Web site. It's the expectation of experience. And everything you do either re-enforces or erodes that brand. While you can control the use of officially sanctioned graphics and information in your own promotional materials, you no longer can control the expression of the opinions people have about the experience they've had with your company, product or service. Social Media takes the actual quality of that experience and makes it the amplified message, drowning out your mission statement, your spin, your talking points or your finely tuned ultimate selling proposition.

Web2.0 makes the masses your new ad agency and PR firm, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. And their only campaign is to take the unvarnished truth about what your company does, and how well it does it, and make that the public face of your brand.

Some believe they can choose not to participate in Web2.0. But the bad news is: you already are participating, whether you have chosen to or not. Ignoring it won't make it go away... it actually makes it more likely that your company will be affected in a good or bad way. You may have a great-looking, perfectly search engine-optimized Web site, and think you're safe. But, with a growing number of people preferring posted opinions, recommendations and Tweets over what they find in the search engines, your efforts could be for naught. And you won't even know what hit you.

So what should you do?

First take a hard look at who's in charge of your Web strategy. Know that not every Web developer understands brand. And our experience is that, at least locally, a shockingly low percentage of advertising agencies even know what constitutes best-practice Web1.0. As you'd expect, most Technology and IT firms are out of their element on either, as are a lot of internal "experts." To do both right AND get Web2.0? It's a tall order indeed.

Look for a firm that understands and specializes in Online Brand Management. They will first make sure that your Web1.0 program uses creativity, design and technology correctly to effectively, efficiently and transparently re-enforce your brand. Then they'll help you understand the perils and power of Web 2.0 and leverage Social Media to your advantage. Finally, they'll help you use the synergies that exist between Web1.0 and Web2.0 to craft the proper email and SEO strategies to execute a successful TOTAL online brand program for your company.

Web2.0 prevents you from ever having total control of your brand again. But if you understand it, embrace it and take advantage of it, you'll at least be better equipped to compete, so your brand won't be "Gone with the Web!"

Tom Snyder @triveraguyTom Snyder is Founder, President and CEO of Trivera Interactive, a Midwest New Media firm. Tom is a Web guy, wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, and political wonk.

Chris Remington joins Team Trivera

With a 10 year track record as one of Milwaukee's leading Interactive and eBusiness strategists, Chris Remington joins Trivera Interactive, a Germantown based Web site Developer and Search Engine Marketing firm as Senior Account Manager.

Remington's career includes successful stints at Mark Travel, Reiman Publications and most recently Hanson Dodge Creative.

Tom Snyder, Trivera Interactive President says, “Our paths first crossed nearly 8 years ago when Chris was the Interactive Account Manager for a company we were discussing a partnership with. The partnership never materialized, but meeting Chris was, in hindsight, the ultimate takeaway from that situation. Trivera has always prided itself in having a team of the best and brightest in the region. Chris allows us to continue that philosophy.”

Remington will also continue to serve on the faculty of the University of Phoenix, Milwaukee Campus where he teaches eBusiness, Management, Critical Thinking and Strategies for Competitive Advantage.

Trivera Interactive, since 1996, creates and develops Web sites, as well as developing and executing Search Engine Optimization, E-Mail, Mobile and Web2.0 Marketing Strategies.

Old Media vs New Media

An observation from a guy who spent 13 years in radio business, and now has spent 13 years in the Internet business

  • Old media is about marketing
  • New media is about connecting.
  • Old Media is about displaying - New media is about embracing.
  • Old Media is about promoting - New media is about engaging.
  • Old Media is about advertising - New media is about interacting.
  • Old Media is about visibility - New media is about transacting.
  • Old Media is about push - New media is about pull.
  • Old Media is about interruption - New media is about anticipation.
  • Old media is about one to many - New media is about many to many more.

Old media is about "running it up a flag pole" - New media is about thousands of your fans eager to run your flag up millions of flagpoles.

It's no wonder that old media is dying. What's unfortunate us how many businesses are still spending so much money to keep it on life support.

2009 - The Most Important Year EVER to Get it Right

For years, our newsletters have stressed the fact that the success of your business depends on you taking the fullest advantage of all the Internet has to offer. This one is different. It's not the success of your business that depends upon a well-designed, search engine-optimized, promoted, navigationally intuitive, e-commerce-enabled Web presence. Given the current economic climate, it's your business' SURVIVAL!

When the economy slows, the available market for many goods and services decreases. If the economy is impacting the demand for the goods and services your business provides, you have two options: accept the consequences of lower sales, or work to increase your share of the smaller market.

A textbook example of a company that took the latter route is Kohl's. While overall in-store sales have been tumbling, their online sales are increasing, and not just by a little bit. While comparable store sales declined by nearly 7 percent for the quarter ended November 1, web sales for that same period rose by 92.2%! While many businesses are struggling, it's a safe bet that nearly doubling your sales could be called a bright spot.

But just "being" on the Web doesn't automatically guarantee an increase in business. Amazon.com just finished their best year ever, and American Apparel and Gap also increased their Web sales albeit by much smaller margins. But Web sales for Coldwater Creek and Williams Sonoma decreased during that same period. Watch for the possibility that both companies will be out of business by next Christmas.

While sales for brick and mortar locations continue to disappoint almost universally, smart business owners and corporate decision makers see the Web as the greatest potential area for growth. And Kohl's commitment to improve and more aggressively promote the Kohls.com "brand" has paid off in spades.

And while your business may not experience the same $40 million bump in sales Kohl's got just by re-designing your shopping cart and doing a better job of promoting your online brand, it's a safe bet that you'll see some sort of increase in sales... especially if your competitors are using the down economy as an excuse not to.

Even if your business isn't a pure play "shopping" site, you can experience an increase in meaningful transactions by doing the same thing Kohl's did: analyzing your online transactional processes, improving them, and promoting them... and not just haphazardly, but strategically, methodically and consistently... as if the survival of your business depended on it.

Because it just might.

-Tom Snyder

Web Investment Metrics - How Much Should I Spend on my Web

While some businesses make their Web site an IT expense, many others prefer to make it part of their advertising budget. While technology is involved, it really makes better sense to have your marketing department determining the direction strategy and implementation of this important public extension of your brand.

Most businesses base their advertising budget on a percentage of sales, usually 3% to 10%, with 20% of that ad budget used to establish their Web initiative, and 10% to maintain and promote it. Within individual industries these percentages are fairly constant. You can find out what your competitors are spending by checking trade publications and associations and through financial institutions like Dun & Bradstreet or NCR Business Ratio or the table below.

Advertising Budgets by Industry

The following numbers represent national average advertising expenditures as a percentage of their gross revenue.

Typical initial Web site budgets are 20% of the total annual advertising budget, with 5% of that budget each allocated to ongoing maintenance and promotion after the initial site launch.

Industry%
Bakeries2.6%
Decorating and Paint Retailers2.5%
Discount Stores2.4%
Educational Services4.7%
Furniture Stores7.1%
Hotels and Motels3.5%
Jewelry6.2%
Manufacturing3.5%
Theaters and Entertainment4.1%
Nutrition/Health Food3.0%
Optometrists3.0%
Photo Studios2.4%
Restaurants3.3%
Retail Stores3.5%

According to this formula, a manufacturing company with $5 Million in annual sales will typically spend $175,000 total on promotion, marketing and advertising. $35,000 of that will go for their Web presence. Subsequent maintenance and promotion of the Web site would each be $8,750 per year.

-Tom Snyder

How's Your E-fitness Quotient?

Originally published, December 2007

For many Americans, a brand new year signals a commitment to improving their fitness. Resolutions are made to eat better, work out more often and make lifestyle changes to reduce stress and increase longevity. TV, radio and print ads at this time of year mirror the huge spike in interest in fitness with hundreds of weight loss, smoking cessation and exercise ads...each with an important disclaimer: Make sure to consult your physician before beginning this new regimen.

For many American businesses this should also be a time to re-commit to improving their fitness. With that in mind, Trivera is encouraging you to make a resolution to make your Web site better, communicate with your email list more often and make Internet strategy changes to reduce business process inefficiency and improve your vendor and customer relationships.

But like personal health changes, a change in Web business practices needs to begin with a consultation with your Web Doctor. So to wrap up 2007, Trivera is recommending a complete Web physical, and is offering a free 15 point custom e-Fitness report to our clients and our potential clients.
Included in this report are answers to many important questions:

With most companies reporting a 25-50% percent increase in their Web sales this year, there's no question that the businesses that "get it," are reaping the rewards. Are you? How are your Web conversions? news_quote.gif Are you communicating with your opt-ins? Are you doing so frequently enough? Too often? How do you know?

Does your Web site maintain current navigation best practices? Is your site taking advantage of current monitor resolutions, desktop sizes, greater audience bandwidth availability, differing browsers and mobile delivery systems?

Is your credit card processing mechanism in compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards? 85% of all sites aren't, and will risk being totally prohibited from taking card transactions in 2008. Will your site be among them?

Does your site come up in search engine results that count? Do you come up high in keywords and phrases that nobody's actually searching for? Do you come up at all in the keywords that people are actually using to search for a business, product or service like yours? Are you an unnecessary victim of click fraud in your paid placement campaign?

Is how your site was built now hurting your position in the search engines? If you have the words "click here" anywhere in your site, the answer is yes. Image Alt tags, link text, page names, incorrect use of images vs. text, file names and content are critically important to your placement. And how they work has changed since last year. Have you made any changes? When was the last time you checked your position against your competitors?

And there are more:

Does your site contain broken links? Are you paying too much for your digital ID? Are you inadvertently giving your employee email addresses to spammers? Is your site experiencing downtime you're not aware of where it's hosted? Is your content management strategy doing you harm? Are there Web 2.0 opportunities you're missing out on?

The new year is right around the corner. 52 weeks to succeed or fail. And while many personal health resolutions require a commitment and discipline that lasts more than the first few weeks of January, all it may take to create benefits for your business is a resolution to act on your e-fitness report from Trivera.

If you're serious about success, let us help you achieve that success today!

Navigating the Internet Minefield Pt. 3

Last Month, we continued our series of articles to look at the perils of developing your own Web presence. We've been likening the Internet to a minefield, with potentially fatal missteps. Last month we talked about Search Engine Optimization (and potential excommunication).

In this issue, we continue with:

Internet Landmine #3: Oops! I'm a Spammer!

Q: I tried to promote my site by sending a bulk email to a bunch of email addresses I've collected over the years, and ever since, every email I try to send to people with a Roadrunner or AOL address is getting blocked!

Bulk email is one of the scariest areas to work in these days. It's so powerful if done right, and so dangerous if done wrong, we're absolutely amazed at how many businesses are attempting to do their own email marketing.

Few people know or understand the requirements of the Federal Can Spam Act.

Fewer still know what ISP and corporate blacklists are... much less understand how they work, how you get on them, and how to get off them. And virtually nobody knows how to get on white lists.

Only a handful of people have heard of Mail Abuse Prevention Systems, Trend Micro, SpamCop and SpamHaus, and so they are unaware of the power that those organizations have to prevent you from sending even one-at-a-time personal legitimate emails.

The people who don't know (or know ABOUT) any of that stuff are the same ones who will use Outlook to send out a bulk email and make the addresses of everyone on their list visible as carbon copies. Their idea of a graphically-compelling email is a blank one with a Word Document, a Publisher File or a PDF attached! Or they'll use an outdated bulk mail application that still combines text and HTML versions in the same mail thinking that that will automatically display the version that subscribers prefer.

And there are a dozen more mistakes that most people who do their own bulk email make. Some are just misguided, but others are like stepping on a land mine!

Solution? Partner with a company that understands and has the tools to do it right. Go it alone, and you risk stepping on Landmine #3.

So maybe we've succeeded in scaring you enough to see why this Web stuff may not be something you want to take on yourself. And that brings us to land mine #4... which we'll describe in our next email!

-Tom Snyder

Navigating the Internet Minefield Pt. 1

The omnipresent media message today is that you can develop your own Web site.

Network Solutions, Register.com and Go Daddy all have marketing campaigns that promise easy, cheap, and somehow still professional do-it-yourself Web sites in minutes. Microsoft promises Web site development as easy as creating a Word Document with Front Page.

Sure sounds great. But what most people don't know is that all of these "solutions" do nothing more than produce what we call the Internet Minefield.

And believing their claims will send you on a foot path through that mine field where missteps can be dangerous…or even potentially fatal to your reputation, your brand and even your company.

So when I was recently invited to speak to a group of communications professionals, and my assigned topic was "How to Develop and Maintain Your Company's Web site," my original reaction was to respectfully decline. In good conscience, I couldn't be guilty of facilitating the carnage.

Having been involved in Internet strategy and technology since the beginning of the medium, we always find it alarming when we see a meeting topic that implies that after a single seminar, anyone could be fully equipped to effectively, correctly, and legally develop, implement and execute all the Internet components of their business operation.

Why? Even simply going through a list of some of the necessary topic titles alone would take the full half hour!

How would someone be able to fully talk about current best practices for home page design including the conscious and subconscious expectations your visitors have when they come to your site; primary, secondary and tertiary navigational strategies; cross browser compatibility design issues; strategic sizing of the opening screen layout based on current prevailing desktop sizes; what to put above the fold and what can go below the fold; hierarchical content arrangement and bread crumb trails; internal page naming strategies; development of a privacy policy and terms of use; use of cascading style sheets and templates to facilitate common visual identity and fast loads; when and when not to use Flash; how to guarantee that your font choices are visible to everyone who visits your site; strategic use of text displayed as images instead of using HTML text; strategic and correct use of e-commerce or other integrated real-time data-driven interactivity; Security issues; Site Hosting, Digital ID and Domain Name Registration vendor selection criteria; Strategic multiple domain name registration; Search engine issues like content arrangement and text editing for maximum search engine indexibility and positioning; comparative benefits of organic placement versus paid placement and pay per clicks; use of metatags; how to create search engine friendly landing pages (and how to link to them other than navigational links); how to do the research to choose the keywords and phrases that people are actually searching for, and discover the ones that you have the greatest potential of achieving top position on; integrating your e-commerce front-end with your credit card processing company to provide real-time transactions; supporting your Web presence with bulk email strategies that are Federal and State Anti-spam law compliant; contending with ISP and corporate blacklisting and Spam filters... and tell you everything you need to know about them all?

Fortunately for me (and even more fortunately, the attendees), I was able to convince the event coordinators to allow me to change my topic. Instead of trying to cover everything they needed to know, I decided to spend some time taking them up to border of the minefield so they (and now you) can be aware of some of the landmines you will step on if you (or your boss) have decided that a do-it-yourself approach to your Web presence is a wise decision. Over our next few issues we'll talk about several of them.

And while the actual case studies and testimonials were gleaned while I visited victims in an Internet field hospital, the names of the casualties will be kept secret to avoid adding insult to injury.

Internet Landmine #1: Search Engine Excommunication

"I wasn't satisfied with my position in the search engines, and I heard that I could adjust my site's text, keywords and metatags to improve where I come up. So I made some changes based on something I read, but now I've disappeared from Google altogether."

Searching for virtually any word or phrase in search engines produces thousands, if not millions of results these days. And it's almost a certainty that your site is nowhere near the top of that list for any of the meaningful keywords or phrases that describe your Web site. Of course you want to be at the top. But so do all the other thousands and millions of other sites you see listed. And with so many of them using professional help to do it, the question is how do you think you can possibly do it yourself?

But even more important, how willing you are to face the consequences for doing it wrong?

Search engines have only one product... accurate, relevant and useful search results. And they constantly adjust their methodologies to improve that product. That means they reward sites that adhere to current best practices by moving them up, and penalize sites that don't by moving them down. But when they find sites that are blatantly trying to use trickery and dishonesty in their content and metatags, they label them as cheaters...and they remove them from their results entirely! And because of the cat and mouse games between the search engines and the cheaters, today's best practices regularly become tomorrow's tricks.

The sites that do search engine optimization right develop a strategy that includes research, reporting and monitoring. But, perhaps the most important element is their use of a reputable partner who stays on top of the changing whims and methodologies of the various search engines. But, if you're a do-it-yourselfer who has "read something somewhere" and attempted to raise your position by using some the same tricks the cheaters do, you are walking through an Internet minefield and running the risk of being blown right out of the search engines.

There are several more landmines... and we'll cover several more in next month's newsletter!

-Tom Snyder

Newton's Law and the Web

Newton's Law of Inertia says "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

I bet he had no idea that his law would ever be applied to the Web! Well, it does... or at least half of it does.

If it's been awhile since you've done any major updates with your Web presence in content, design, functionality and search engine indexing, you may think your site is still right where it was back then. But it's not.

Unfortunately, your site is not at rest. If you've been following the articles in our newsletters, you already know that technology, design, strategies and tactics that were "state of the art" or "best practice" just two or three years ago are now more than just obsolete in many cases they can actually be hurting your business. So, the rapidly evolving landscape of the Internet is actually causing your site to be an object in motion...in the wrong direction!

And, according to Newton's Law, it will continue to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Graphic Redesign

Visitor expectations for Web sites have risen dramatically. A common set of elements now must exist on any Web site whose owner wants to be taken seriously. The public is exponentially more Web savvy than they were a few short years ago.  When they come to your site, they have a multitude of expectations some conscious, and some subconscious. They still expect to be able to find what they're looking for immediately. But their eyes and their clicks are now instinctively drawn to specific areas of a site for specific purposes. They make subconscious judgments about a company's credibility, quality and service, based on the quality of graphic design, a common navigational scheme and the existence and arrangement of particular elements on the site.

If your site isn't taking advantage of the industry best practices for layout, navigation and visitor expectations, it's moving in the wrong direction. And as the public becomes even more Web-wise, that fact will even act as an unbalanced force to accelerate the motion downward.

Of course a great Web developer can act as the unbalanced force to get your site moving in the right direction. Trivera's vast knowledge and body of experience is being put to work by many of our clients to act as that force by re-designing and re-engineering outdated Web sites to meet those visitor expectations. We combine our industry knowledge with a site's historical traffic patterns to help develop the optimum navigational layout. And we'll design a new look that will communicate credibility, quality and commitment to service.

In addition to getting your site moving in the right direction, we'll get you set up with content management tools that will help you maintain that momentum by easily and economically keeping content fresh, without having to depend on an outside provider every time it needs to change.

Search Engine Optimization

In addition to the human eyes that visit your site, automated spiders and robots are also coming to index the content of the site and determining how your site will come up in search engine results. What they're looking for and how you'll place is also constantly changing. The relative market share of the major search engines is also swings drastically and regularly.

Contrary to what many self-appointed search engine "experts" may tell you, search engine optimization as not just an event. If you're not actively engaged in an ongoing search engine strategy, your site is moving there, too! But the motion of your site is a free-fall.

Unless, of course, you have a Web partner that can act as the unbalanced force to get it moving in the right direction.

With Trivera, Search Engine Optimization is a process. That process begins with seeing how people have historically been coming to your siteanalyzing the search engine-generated traffic by site and by search terms. It continues by doing the same with your competitors' sites to see how you stack up against them. Then comes the research to determine if there are any terms that are being missed. Using that information, and plugging it into several other analytical tools allows us to develop a custom strategy for your site that will consider your most optimistic goals, temper them with realistic expectations, and combine those to produce the best possible results.

But that's only the start. We can continue to monitor your placement in the search engines, and make adjustments as needed to help you maintain your position. And because the forward motion of your site is too important to be left up to the constantly evolving and undisclosed methodologies of competing Search Engines, we can also recommend some other tactics that will economically guarantee you first page placement regardless of how and when the rules change.

What most other developers miss

Having your site optimized so search engines will direct people to your site, and then meeting the visitors' expectations for design and navigation when they get there still is not enough to the whole equation.

Successful businesses look for every opportunity to build or improve a relationship with a prospect, a customer, a vendor, a partner, a distributor or an employee. Those relationships are built one transaction at a time. To build those kinds of relationships via the Internet, a Web site full of information isn't enough. It needs to facilitate transactions.  Anyone can build a site that consists of layers of information...back in the old days (you know, back when your current site was designed), almost everyone did that. But that kind of site is like a salesperson or customer service rep who just talks and talks but doesn't ask questions and doesn't listen.

So, in addition to a sound design and navigational structure, Trivera provides its customers with a full line of transactional tools to help our clients build those relationships over the Webe-commerce engines, digital asset management systems, CRM tools, dealer portals, content management systems, dealer locators and arguably one of the most amazing email list managers on the market today. We learn enough about your entire business...your brand, policies, procedures and systems...and work with you to help you to determine the best combination of features that fits within goals and your budget.

Unless your Web site is built on a transactional philosophy, its course is ill-fated.

Isaac Newton meets Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan's variation of Newton's law says that he not busy being born is busy dying. And the same is true of your Web presence. On the Web, there is no inertia. You're either moving ahead or you're falling behind. Staying the same is not an option.

The unbalanced force of change, competition and new technologies will accelerate your motion in the direction in the direction you're headed. If your design, navigation, search optimization and transactional construction is up to current standards, and is being constantly maintained, your motion is upward. And the unbalanced force of change, competition and new technologies will accelerate your motion in that same upward direction, only faster. But if your motion is downward, those forces will only accelerate that death spiral.

And that's not just our opinion...it's the law!

by Tom Snyder,
President and CEO, Trivera Interactive

Thou Shalt Respect Thy Email List!

One of the most powerful tools in a company's Internet arsenal is its email list. So why do so many companies have so little respect for theirs?

Most companies that use broadcast email as a part of their Web site promotion simply collect email addresses wherever they can, dump them into a list, and send out an occasional email to that list. No real effort or strategy is involved because the email addresses are easy to get and the emails don't cost anything to send. So it's no surprise that the lack of results from that strategy reinforce the opinion that email marketing is just no big deal.

Here are a couple of "secret weapons" that successful companies are using to produce email success that they can take to the bank:

Broadcast Email Success Strategy #1: Make sure your list is clean.

Instead of just offering an incentive to your staff for hitting a certain total number of email addresses collected, offer a bonus for valid, double-opted-in email addresses. That means regularly validating your list and removing the bad addresses. ISPs keep track of how many bad email addresses you send to them. Too many, and they'll block ALL your emails. And unless you can document the date, time and IP address of a true closed loop opt in for every single person on your list, they won't unblock you. Because they won't define how many bad addresses is too many, your best bet is to keep your list as clean as you can all the time.

(Hint: TriveraMail 6 has the tools to do all this)

Email Campaign Secret #2 - Hold someone accountable for measurable results.

Most companies just blast away and hope a lot of their emails will reach an eager reader. Heaven forbid that they would count bouncebacks (distinguishing between hard and soft bounces) and measure delivered emails, open rates and click-throughs, and hold someone responsible for hitting predetermined, ever increasing goals.

But that's exactly what smart companies do. And they also perform testing to compare success rates of several different email types, layouts and messages to small samples of their list just to make sure that the one they're sending to the entire list will produce the best results.

There's nothing like making someone's job or bonus dependent on measurable results to get them to respect an email initiative.

(Hint: TriveraMail 6 has the tools to do all these, too)

Email Campaign Secret #3 - Treat your bulk email campaigns as if they were printed postal mails.

When you're developing your next email strategy, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself how much it would cost you to communicate the same message using a print piece mailed via snail mail. Depending on the nature of the mail piece itself, the printing (and stuffing) costs, plus postage will run between 25 to 45 cents each. For a list of 6,000 recipients, that comes to as much as $2,700. Then ask yourself how much money would be wasted if a printing or addressing error resulted in half your pieces just disappearing. There would be consequences because of the expense of the waste.

Smart companies place a commensurate value on their emails, realizing that lost or unread emails actually DO cost them money.

When the average email user opens their inbox, they still wade through 20-200 emails just hoping that at least some of them are compelling, valuable communications from someone they respect and want to hear from.

Don't expect your subscribers to respect your emails unless you first respect them yourself!

-Tom Snyder