Trivera President Tom Snyder featured in Opentopic’s Content Marketing Spotlight Series.

Spotlight-Photo[1]Trivera President Tom Snyder was recently featured in Opentopic’s Content Marketing Spotlight Series. Here is that article:

OpenTopic: Content marketing is currently a hot topic among brands, though the use of content to engage and acquire customers certainly isn’t a new practice. What is it about today’s environment that has transformed content into such a central component of customer engagement and acquisition?

Tom: Corporate decision makers are under intense pressure to produce demonstrable results from their efforts. As they search for the resources either to educate themselves and their internal teams or to select an outside vendor, it’s critical for them to find a source they can trust to give them relevant, accurate and substantiated information. Creating RSS feeds and monitoring Social Media for great content, provides them with the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge, and identify potential vendors. Reviewing content those vendors are posting on their site, their blog and Social Media has become such a valuable part of the vetting process, it’s almost expected these days for every “expert” to be providing content of some sort, somewhere.

OpenTopic: Content marketing can be approached in many ways. How can a company that’s tackling content marketing for the first time best gauge what approach will best serve their business goals?

Tom: They need to really know their audience. And by “know,” I don’t mean generally, but specifically. Generally, my agency’s target audience is “people who need to choose a digital marketing firm.” But that is really so broad that it’s not a target at all.  If I used that as my guide, I’d be blogging or curating just about anything anywhere that would have to do with digital marketing. However, if I’ve learned that my “bull’s-eye” is a slightly more left-brained 42 year-old primary marketing decision maker for a $50 million dollar a year Midwest manufacturing company who is currently looking to hire a digital agency that will make them look like a rock star to their CEO, CFO, CIO, peers and potential employers then I know exactly what kind of content I need to provide. It will be content that will help them create a web presence and digital marketing strategy that will make their CEO proud, produce demonstrable ROI to their CFO, be an ally not an adversary to their IT department, and be the perfect candidate for their next gig. As I talk to my existing clients who fit that description and find out what kind of content they are finding helpful, and where they found it, I can base what I write, what I share and where I post, on their answers. As I demonstrate the experience, service and passionate commitment that they can trust to make him/her look like a rock star, I position my agency as the one they need to choose to make that happen.

Follow that approach for your industry and the decision maker you are trying to influence, and you’ll know exactly what to do.

OpenTopic:  Can you explain the role of third-party curation in content marketing strategies? How do you practice curation and what are its benefits?

Tom: When I began blogging in 1997, I was one of the few “experts” in the digital media field. Finding topics to write about and share was easy. However, as time marched on, I started to find that anything that I was thinking about writing had been written about hundreds of times already. I set up RSS feeds to provide myself with a daily summary of blogs and articles that I could use to educate myself, and see what holes might be available to fill with my own blog. When Social Media began to emerge, I realized that, in addition to posting links to my own blog on Twitter, LinkedIn and my company’s Google Plus page, I could also post links to the things I was reading.

The curated links that I post in Social Media to the blogs, articles and whitepapers of others, are those that I pick specifically to resonate with my target. Oftentimes, I’ll even change the titles of the article in the post to make my target audience more likely to click on the links. While the only measurable results I can track are the click-throughs, I know that the steady stream of 7 or 8 posts every day over time builds my credibility (and that of my company) as someone who always seems to know what they need to succeed, corporately, professionally and personally as a Digital Marketing decision maker.

OpenTopic: What are some of your techniques for demonstrating the value of content marketing? Does your approach differ for original content versus curated content?

Tom: When I speak to audiences about my efforts I show them my click-through reports. I am always blown away by the fact that, since I’ve been tracking my metrics, I’ve had over 850,000 click-throughs on my links posted on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Google+ and articles published in digital publications. Amongst those links of curated information are thousands of click-throughs to my own blog. When I link to my blog, I make sure to point that out in the post. I’d like to think that those who watch my posts for useful content pay special attention to the things I write myself, thinking that if I had to write it, it’s because I couldn’t find an existing source for that information that could bring as much value as I could by writing it  myself.

OpenTopic: What are 2 or 3 things that forward-thinking content marketers should have on their to-do list today?

Tom: Number 1: Narrowly define your audience so you know who you are writing for and what they expect to learn from and about you.

Number 2: Measure your results. Ideally you want have statistically-valid metrics to determine what works and what doesn’t. But even anecdotal evidence can be helpful. Make sure you’re producing results. Content without results is just a journal.

Number 3: Don’t think you always need to be groundbreaking or cutting edge with everything you write or post. Years after I began, some of my most clicked-through links are to some of the most basic topics. Over time, even if your target doesn’t change, your individual audience members will, as people move into and out of your target. Make sure you regularly demonstrate your core expertise. That will reinforce it to longtime readers, and make a great first impression to people just discovering you.

OpenTopic: Do you have any words of warning for content marketers?

Tom: If you’re using Social Media to post content make sure you’re using the appropriate channels at the appropriate times for the desired results. Professional content is all I ever post on LinkedIn and Google+.  I’ll post links to my own blog on my personal Facebook page to let friends and family know what I do, but those posts are set to post publicly in case anyone in my target audience who isn’t a friend ever decides to check out my personal page.

I use Twitter personally and professionally, and so I also Tweet a lot of the typical stuff people post there. However, I do take a break from the “business” posts on evenings and weekends. There’s nothing worse than being on Twitter during a Packer game on a Sunday to watch the interaction and armchair quarterbacking, when suddenly the marketing guru that can never “turn it off” posts a link in the middle of it all on to how to craft the perfect SEO strategy, or increase your e-commerce site conversions. I never want to be “that guy.” The person that I’m known as, by my clients, my peers and the community at large is that really smart and helpful digital marketing expert who is also a friendly person you’d want to work with.

Trivera Affiliate Program Creates Opportunity


Over the years, Trivera has formed informal partnerships with other companies to fill competency and skill gaps.  However, the affiliate program formalizes the relationships to create a more permanent partnership, and also to provide financial incentives for bringing each other into projects and existing vendor relationships. Two of our affiliates have already deepened the partnership to the point of moving into Trivera's offices.

Companies and individuals being chosen and invited into the program meet the following qualifications:

1.) They provide best-in-market services that are complementary, but non-compettitve, to Trivera's core competencies.

2.) They work primarily with the same size and type of businesses and organizations that represent Trivera's target customers (Manufacturing, service, healthcare and/or ecommerce businesses, with $10-$100 million in annual revenue, and the appropriate budgets for companies that size).

3.) Their primary contact within those companies, and the person to whom they will refer us, is the CMO, VP of Marketing or Brand manager.

4.) They understand the importance of "wins" for every party in the relationship.

Under the terms of the program, Trivera pays a referral fee for any new client we acquire that was referred to us by an affiliate. If the affiliate doesn't want to accept a fee, a contribution will be made in their name to the charity of their choice.

The goal of the program is to build an affiliate network that will provide the opportunty for the region's best Digital Marketing service providers to collaborate with us, create new opportunities for each other and produce success for our clients. 

For more information, or to inquire about becoming an affiliate, contact Trivera CEO Tom Snyder ( )

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 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

Co-Working Space Opportunity at Trivera


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.


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

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:


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.