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Jamie Rinehart Joins Team Trivera

Jamie RinehartJamie Rinehart has joined Team Trivera as Digital Marketing Strategist. Jamie comes to Trivera with 10 years of Digital Marketing and Advertising account management experience, most recently, the Advertising Sales manager at Kalmbach Publishing Company. At Kalmbach, Jamie managed successful sales teams for Discover, Astronomy, Cabin Life, American Snowmobiler, and Art Jewelry magazines. His experience with high level national accounts helped him create and execute successful advertising and marketing strategies in partnership with global companies such as Allstate, Arctic Cat, BASF and Citgo. Jamie was instrumental recognizing and understanding the need for these publications to move from being print focused toward digital focused.

Jamie holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Mass Communications with a focus on Advertising where he still is an active member of the Alumni Association.

When not working, Jamie is an avid rec league volleyball and softball player. In addition, he enjoys running, from Marathons (has ran 5) to a jog in the neighborhood with his wife and dog. Jamie is also a huge Brewer, Packer and Bucks fan. Whether it’s going to the game, or watching at home or streaming it on his phone, Jamie will always find a way to keep up with the local Milwaukee sports teams!

3 Reasons Your Social Media Efforts are Failing

Social MediaThere are no guarantees that Social Media will succeed for your business or organization. However if it’s not delivering the results you had hoped for, here are 3 possible reasons why:

1.) You don’t have a strategy – Chinese general Sun Tzu is credited with the axiom “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the others are all just tactics. Without a solid strategy that defines your brand, target, goals and voice, it’s impossible to determine the platforms and communities where your audience is, and ones in which they would expect you to be, or what to do once you begin. Unless you have a strategy to help you evaluate whether the next rising social network is a real opportunity, or just the next shiny object, you are almost certain to fail.

2.) You aren’t committed to do what it takes – Unless one of your posts becomes the next viral sensation on Mashable, your path to measurable impact will be a long one. Building fans, followers and reputation requires a presence that keeps you top of mind with your target audience. Without frequency, rotation, valuable content, timely interaction, and immediate response over an extended period of time your efforts will likely fail.

3.) You rely on Social Media as a silver bullet – Even a “successful” return from Social Media efforts can be a failure if you’re cutting other, more profitable marketing efforts in hopes of Twitter or Facebook becoming your panacea. Strategic consideration of new vehicles and measuring their success of each against all your efforts will enable you to do what works and discard what doesn’t.  If your website, email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click, and traditional marketing efforts are producing more return on your investment than Social Media, continuing to use it at their expense could result in the biggest Social Media failure of all. 

This article originally appeared in the BizTimes.com Social Media Strategies Column, in August, 2015

Open Source: The Clear Choice for CMS Development

by Tom Snyder

My digital agency opened its doors in January of 1996. Back then, there were no proprietary Content Management Systems. Microsoft was still dismissing the notion of the web as a viable platform for business or e-commerce activity. If a website needed functionality, unless we could find something at Matt's Script Archive to accomplish the task, we built most of it from the ground up in Perl.slideshow01.jpg

As time went on, we simply continued to ride the open source path. We assembled a huge collection of functional applications we had built for client sites that could be added to and modified for new ones. Shopping carts, contact forms, opt-in email list managers, employment opportunity listings, content editors, slide shows, all built as open source using PHP.

A few years later came the emergence of Content Management Systems, which contained—as a package—many of the functional elements we previously had relied upon our own resources to create. Drupal, Joomla!, Wordpress, and others were emerging as the default new development platforms for most digital agencies who had followed the same path as ours.

Then came platforms like Magento and Concrete5, which began with a view to eventually evolve into enterprise solutions with a price tag designed to achieve profit motives. But the initial efforts of their foundational community editions were still fueled by the passion of development communities who helped to develop the core functionality. Along with them came a huge array of $5, $50, and $100 plugins and extensions to add custom functionality to meet almost any client needs. And because the open source model extended to those plug-ins and extensions, individual developers could make further modifications to meet even more demanding client requirements.

And all of this was designed to run on license-fee-free Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP operating systems running on low-overhead hardware.

The common thread was that all of these were—and still are—tools developed by people with a common purpose. That purpose was a desire to help the internet achieve its potential by providing individuals, businesses, and organizations with amazingly robust and fully functional, but still cost-effective, web presences.

During this same time, several software companies used investment money to create expensive proprietary content management and e-commerce systems designed to run on operating systems and databases with enormous licensing fees, and requiring lots of expensive hardware. Total cost of implementation and ownership ran five to 10 times that of their open source counterparts.

For the mega-corporations with huge budgets that are used to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on just about everything they do, and that believe no credible solution comes without an equally huge price tag, it provides the opportunity for lots of money to change hands.

That's fine if that's your business model. However, for a smaller digital agency, it's hard to start every web development project watching tens of thousands of dollars pass through from the client to the software companies just to create the development platform. That takes a lot of money off the table that could have been used to create more functionality, or pay for a year of post-launch support for inbound marketing and other enhancements.

Additionally, the open source model has always provided us with the flexibility and customization possibilities to always provide the client with a user experience and backend functionality that adapts to their specific needs and business model. Many closed source proprietary systems do just the opposite, forcing the business to accept the rules and functionality limits built into the system.

Smart digital agencies know that if providing value, return on investment, and total customization are all key components to their brand and value proposition, the open source model is, and has always been, the far better choice.

This article originally appeared at Opensoruce.com

Co-Working Space Opportunity at Trivera

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As Trivera locks in additional office space to accommodate our growth strategy over the next few years, the excess capacity in the mean time is creating a great opportunity for a small team or individuals to locate in the prestigious, historic Mill Building in Downtown Menomonee Falls.

"We're looking for just a handful of qualified candidates in our business category...web and eCommerce development, inbound digital marketing, social media, SEO, etc... who are interested in leasing work space in our building," said Trivera president Tom Snyder. "This presents small, one or two person shops a great way to build credibility by locating in a very cool, nicely decorated and established environment."

digs02.jpgThe leases are typically auto-renewing minimum 60 day terms, and include heat, electricity, internet, kitchen facilities and use of the large conference room. There's plenty of free parking nearby. Large windows provide lots of light and a view of the landmark waterfall. A myriad of dining and shopping choices are a short walk or drive away. But, perhaps most important, the complementary skill sets being chosen to occupy the space provide the possibility for partnerships and collaborative business opportunities to develop with Trivera and the other tenants.

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Says Snyder, "We've already signed our first 5 tenants, and are talking to several others. At the moment, between our main floor office, our top floor production facility and the loft, we have 6-8 spaces still available. We're expecting those to fill up quickly."

For more information, contact Marjie Snyder at 262-250-9400 or marjie@trivera.com.

Why Your Website Could be Disappearing from Google on April 21st.

wheressite.jpgIf you’re focusing your website efforts exclusively on how your website appears in your desktop browser (or it’s just been years since you redesigned your website to be mobile friendly), that sound you’re hearing is your company’s digital death rattle. And I am not exaggerating.

In my last blog, I outlined the reasons why it’s critical to take your mobile users’ customer experience seriously. The growing body of evidence continues to back up my assertion that you’ve really needed to have been doing that for years. And while large numbers of business owners and marketers have been hoping that the data is wrong and, incredibly, still taking a wait and see attitude, last week, Google made an announcement that puts a hard stop on any further procrastination.

Google has announced that on April 21, 2015, they will be adjusting their algorithms to push websites with a mobile-friendly user experience to a higher rank, and pushing down…and even out…sites that don’t.

Those of us in the SEO field who live and die by the latest algorithm shifts have heard insinuations, hints and rumors over the years as Google has historically been vague about any upcoming changes to keep black-hats and other miscreants from jacking the system and getting sites on page one who don’t deserve to be there. This time, it’s different. Google has officially released the date and implications as a non-negotiable, immutable, and unexploitable prerequisite to prepare for. How serious the punishment will be for non-mobile-friendly sites is not certain, but experts in our field, and even the media are already calling it “SEO-Pocalypse” And “Mobilegeddon.” So we’re prepared for the results to be substantial.

To see if your site is ready for the new search reality, go to Google's Mobile Webmaster tool  and enter your website address.

If your site is mobile friendly, congratulations! The impact of the upcoming algorithm should not be negative. It will likely even be positive for you.

However, if your website is not mobile-friendly and it relies on Google searches for a significant amount of traffic (and revenue), be ready to lose a significant amount of both on April 22.

It’s ironic that it will take a shot across the bow like this to get many businesses and organizations to do what they should have done simply to meet their customer expectations and create a great, intuitive experience for their visitors regardless of the device they’re using. But if that’s what it takes, then that’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, a month is not enough time to design, develop and launch a new, strategically conceived, SEO responsive corporate website. But once it’s launched, Google’s spiders will eventually discover your mobile friendly site, and while you’ll never make up the revenue you’ll lose during that time, you’ll eventually restore some of the ranking ground you lost.

But it’s still not enough.

A basic mobile experience as an accommodation or second screen may get you over the Google bar, but even if the search engines send traffic to your site, you’ll still be losing brand affinity, conversions and revenue. The latest research is showing that even making mobile just as a first screen is likely hurting your success.

The market is telling us it’s time be planning for a “mobile-only” user experience. I’ll explain (and back it up with data from a new study) in my next blog.

 

Think Your Website is Mobile? Think Again!

Man-frustrated-with-phone.jpgAs a web marketing pioneer since 1995, my life has been in a constant state of frustration with marketers who have never been as eager to embrace the power of new possibilities as quickly as I thought they should.   It began with a survey taken the year I opened my agency that said 87% of all business owners believed they would never have a need for the web… EVER! It has taken a path through resistance to search engine optimization (which we began doing in 1996), e–commerce (which we began doing in 1997), email marketing (which we began doing in 1998), online Social communities (which we first did in 1999) and social media marketing (which we began doing in 2009). Eventually, universal best practices caught up to include each of those, and we were able to use the several years of experience our competition didn’t have to meet the needs of clients now willing to explore each “new” tactic, method or technology.


Frustrations of a Mobile Early Adopter

We created our first mobile websites 14 years ago for ourselves and Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport. With the Kyocera Smart Phone being the only mobile device in existence back in 2001, we were admittedly way ahead of the curve. But we knew that mobile’s amazing proliferation in Japan foreshadowed a similar explosion in the US. It wasn’t until the 2007 debut of the first iPhone, and emergence of Android phones in 2008 that it actually began to happen here. That was the beginning of our push, via our recommendations and our blog, to urge all businesses to create a web experience for their customers who preferred to interact with them via mobile devices. A handful jumped onboard immediately, and more followed.  However, 8 years later, still less than half of those clients have a website that is mobile-friendly.  And only our newest clients and a handful of fellow-visionaries have a site that is fully responsive to be viewed intuitively on any device or display size.

Introducing the “Mobile-First” Best Practice

While some would say we should be happy that we’re making progress, the sad fact is that we’re falling even further behind. The call to accommodate a mobile experience actually ended several years ago when it was replaced with a new best practice: designing your web presence with a mobile FIRST experience.

A design process that just accommodated mobile began first with a desktop user experience. Then, using a practice called graceful degradation, it removed the elements and formatting that prevented the desktop experience from displaying satisfactorily on tablets and smart phones.  Mobile first is just what it says. The first user experience, wireframe and design comp is the smartphone portrait mode.  Then, using progressive enhancement, features and design elements are added as the larger platforms and displays allow.  That approach is more difficult, and as you’d expect more expensive. But wise site owners who embraced that approach early on had their sites ready to capitalize on the shift that happened in mid-2014 when the number of website visits via mobile devices permanently surpassed that of the number via the conventional desktop machines.

That change in mobile first focus is causing a whole new analytic: users who begin their desired transaction with you on their smartphone, but frustrated with the functional or UX limitations you’re imposing on them had to go to a tablet or desktop to complete the transaction or desired task, or even decided not to do business with you at all.

What Comes Next?

As a result of those statistics, the next step in UX is emerging: The Mobile-ONLY approach. A recent report from the Altimeter Group demonstrates how fast the paradigm is shifting, and how quickly website owners and other developers are falling behind.  In my next blog, I’ll share some of the alarming statistics from that report and tell you how developers like Trivera are adapting.

Trivera has an Opening for a New Business Development Specialist

Trivera Interactive is seeking an experienced New Business Development Specialist with a senior business development or account management background within a digital agency or communications firm, and extensive sales and consulting experience with high level and executive marketing decision makers.

Read more about it here

How Much Should You Invest in Digital Marketing for 2015?

website-development-budget1.jpgAlthough most companies planned their 2015 marketing budgets in the last months of 2014, a new Gartner report will give you some guidance as to whether your planned investment will match that of your competitors.

According to the report, most companies plan to allocate a little more than 10% of their topline revenue for marketing in 2015, with 50% planning to increase their spend over 2014 levels.

Two thirds of companies these days still separate digital marketing as a separate category out of their overall marketing budget, with the average amount allocated to the digital efforts at a quarter of that budget.

Most companies plan to make Customer Experience their highest priority for the upcoming year, allocating 18% of their marketing budget on improving that.

The typical company will allocate 13% of their budget for Digital Advertising, with content marketing and website development just behind at 12% each.

The following chart shows how those numbers break out in dollars for various size companies:

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Those numbers may seem large to some. But there is plenty to spend it on. Our own observations confirm dozens of other studies that show how far many businesses have fallen behind in their digital marketing efforts. Few companies have responded to the shift in paradigm from desktop to mobile as the preferred customer experience. Most companies still fall behind when it comes to the latest best practices for SEO, PPC and content marketing. With email marketing and Social Media competing as the tool that creates greater results, and new transactional functionality emerging all the time, there is no shortage of digital initiatives to add to a company’s arsenal of marketing tools. 

Smart marketing decision-makers already know what they need to do to take full advantage of digital marketing to build their brand awareness, generate leads, and serve existing clients. But many have had difficulty convincing their CEOs, and CFOs to invest enough to drive efforts that will produce meaningful results.

These numbers will provide them with the evidence they need to argue their case and make sure they have the necessary dollars allocated to stay ahead of their competition.

 

Craig Schneider Joins Team Trivera

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Craig Schneider has joined TeamTrivera as a designer/front-end developer.

Craig is one of those guys who possesses the unique talent of being able to create awesome, intuitive, user-friendly website designs and then using frameworks and content management systems to turn them into fully functional websites. 
 
Craig comes aboard after a long tenure at Kalmbach publishing where most recently he was Interactive Art Director. In that role, he had been overseeing all of Kalmbach's digital properties including their 20 web sites and a team of 2 designers.  He has also been part of their Internet Strategic Development group and participated in the ideation and planning of their web-based products.
 
Craig was instrumental in leading Kalmbach into the Digital realm. On top of building the layouts and interactivity, he also worked with their in-house development team to build custom storefronts for 3 of their publications that had in-app purchases. And most recently, Craig helped lead them into responsive web design, moving 10 of their sites in that direction.  All of that experience has combined make him the perfect fit for our team.
 
When not working, Craig is an avid golfer, loves playing softball, outdoor recreation. Like the rest of the members of TeamTrivera he enjoys spending time with his family. He is also a loyal cheesehead who loves going to Packer, Badger, and Brewer games.
 
 

Scott Zsori Becomes Team Trivera's Newest Member

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Scott Zsori has joined Team Trivera as our newest back end developer.    

Scott first talked to us about coming here in 2002, but the stars weren't correctly aligned at the time. 12 years later, things finally worked out for him to come aboard as our newest back-end developer.

Scott has been working in the web as long as Trivera has, doing all of the same things, in the same languages and platforms as we do it. If it is needed for web development, he knows it, and knows it very well. But he also knows how to communicate highly technical concepts to non-technical people, making him perfect for his position at Trivera.
 
An example of just how smart Scott is: In his spare time, he created and is currently the president of TheTVDB.com, a site that contains an open database of television metadata used by thousands of websites and apps, including Plex, Kodi and some of the world's largest search engines.  While you might not be familiar with the site, you're probably actually a user of the data housed in it. The site's API is used by hundreds of thousands of people, gets 6 billion hits (yes, that billion with a B) and consumes 120TB of bandwidth monthly.
 
Even with all that he has free time! He enjoys spending time with his son and wife, playing video games like Dota 2 and Minecraft, cooking, debating politics, camping, swimming, and playing volleyball.  He loves the Green Bay Packers, his Kindle, his two dogs, a multitude of pond and aquarium fish, and dad jokes.  In high school he placed first in Wisconsin in his division in Academic Decathlon and was ranked in the top 50 Quake players in the world.  He's considered the best dad in the world by at least one first grader.