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Trivera turns 21!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Tom Snyder

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

 

Why I (and Our Clients) Love the Concrete5 CMS

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

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

Here are a few of its many features:

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


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

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

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

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


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

About Serene Mireles

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

Meet Todd Zimmerman, the Newest Member of Team Trivera

todd01.jpgTodd Zimmerman has joined Trivera as Project Manager.  

A former English major and UWM film student, Todd fell into IT as a profession and discovered a drive to use technology to make work life more productive and enjoyable. Over his 20 year career, he has also held titles including Response Center Engineer, Webmaster, Interactive Manager, and PR & Marketing Director.

Todd brings his organizational experience to bear on Trivera's roster of complex activities, working with all staff to make sure projects progress smoothly and on schedule. Todd has developed intranets and public web sites for several manufacturing and technology companies, at times handling everything from server configuration to copywriting. This variety of experience provides him with the knowledge and vocabulary to work with both technical and creative staff, synchronizing efforts towards shared goals.

He comes most recently from Versant Solutions, where as Interactive Manager he managed site administration and development for clients including Thomson Reuters, Barnes & Noble, and the Milwaukee County Transit System.

In his free time Todd enjoys racing sailboats, motorcyling, science fiction, his wondermutt Luna, and endlessly troubleshooting his home internet connection with Time Warner tech support. A former President and Marketing Director of Skydive Milwaukee, he spent ten years on their Board of Directors and still serves as public spokesman when called upon.

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

by Jamie Rinehart,  Digital Marketing Strategist

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

FALL IS COMING! BACK TO SCHOOL!

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

Bill McCormick - Natural Look Salon and Wigs

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


Erik Bergstrom - Dental Associates

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

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


Haley Kloss - Rogers Behavioral Health

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

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

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

About Jamie Rinehart

Jamie Rinehart

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

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Ways That Neglecting Your Website is Killing Your Brand

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By Tom Snyder, President and CEO of Trivera

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

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

Here's why:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trivera Affiliate Program Creates Opportunity

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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 ( tom@trivera.com )

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!

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

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.

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.

 

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.

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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CBS58 Social Media Feature Includes Trivera President

packerscheerleader1-300x169.jpgAs the recent controversy regarding a Chicago Bear Facebook fan site bullying a Green Bay Packer cheerleader began to go viral, the news team at Milwaukee's CBS affiliate needed a Social Media expert to interview for their 10 O'Clock news. So to find the right person, they did what any self-respecting media organization would do: They Googled it. The search for Milwaukee Social Media Expert brought up Trivera on Page 1, position 1, and after a quick phone call, the reporter and cameraman were on their way to Menomonee Falls to interview Trivera's resident Social Media go-to guy, Tom Snyder.

542705_10200673998198617_1942508108_n[1]Trying to meet a tight deadline in the middle of a snowstorm, the crew didn't even have time to take off their coats, hats and mittens. That caused the realtime tweets and Facebook posts from the team in the office to be met with accusations that we don't pay our heating bills.

As the day had gone on the focus of the story shifted. Initially, the story was about a Fan Page featuring a photo and the subject of the photo getting hammered with vicious comments. The woman asked Facebook to remove the photos and the post n the grounds that it violated Facebook's anti-bullying rule. Facebook disagreed an refused to remove it. So the woman struck back with another Social Media tool: a YouTube Video. And the battle raged between the haters and the supporters, free-speech advocates and people who demanded that Facebook relent. Eventually even Mashable picked up on the story, and by the time the crew got to our office, the owners of the Facebook page removed the post.

P1015548The questions from the reporters focused on whether we felt that Facebook should have removed the post. Tom's answer framed the dilemma Facebook had by asking the reporters if they would remove a news story on their site if the comments to that story turned ugly. He felt that technically, the fan page owners probably had a moral responsibility to remove the vicious and hateful comments.

Social Media is admittedly sometimes very anti-social. Bullying goes on there constantly. Fortunately, as proven by this instance, those who are bullied can use the same tool to stand up to the bullies, and get an army of supporters to stand with them.

But once again, whether it's for bad or for good...or both...Social Media is a powerful tool, and in the right instances can create viral buzz for the good to win.

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Happy New Year!

HNY1213As we look back on 2012 we are thankful for all our clients, partners, staff and friends, making it one of the best of our nearly 17 years in business. You've helped keep us busy with so much to do that we haven't been able to blog, send email newsletters or finish our brand new responsive website.

But we did want to send a heartfelt message to thank all of you for putting your trust in Trivera!

In 2012 we've worked hard to develop and launch exciting digital projects. We welcomed some great new website design and development clients to the Trivera family:

  • The Greater Milwaukee Foundation
  • Racine Federated
  • Perlick
  • Bel Canto Chorus
  • Dental Associates
  • Evald Molding
  • Johnson Creek Smoke Juice
  • Amelishan Bridal
  • Genius Supply
  • Storage Systems Midwest
  • GA Precision Manufacturing
  • Husar's House of Fine Diamonds
  • M&M Office Interiors
  • Core Creative (Poblocki Sign CMS)

 

They all discovered for the first time the joy of working with Trivera's team of talented professionals with new website projects.

We also renewed our commitment to our long-standing client partners with new initiatives for:

  • Potawatomi Bingo Casino (SEO)
  • Mitchell International Airport (CMS)
  • Timmerman Airport (new website)
  • Strattec Security Corporation (Component Solutions website)
  • Usingers (Magento e-commerce upgrade)
  • Rego Consulting (new websites)
  • Zimmerman Investment Partners (hosting infrastructure upgrade)
  • ThermaSys/API Heat Transfer (SEO, API site migration, print marketing)
  • Heroic Media (new microsites)
  • Adelman Travel (CMS)
  • Axiom Properties (CMS and new property websites)
  • Casper Creative (George Webb website)

And thanks to them...and you...2013 will be even brighter. Watch for some exciting news from Trivera later this month as we add even more value to our clients' digital strategies and offer a wider and deeper array of services and skills to make your 2013 successful.

Here's to 2013 being a great New Year for us all!

Trivera Tackles the Elephant in the Room

team-giftsLike most companies, Trivera Interactive has embraced the holiday spirit – adorning our office with festive decorations, twinkling lights and even a handcrafted Mountain Dew tree. For our gift exchange this year, we decided to tackle the White Elephant in the room. Many of our employees had not previously participated in a White Elephant gift exchange which made this event even more entertaining.

rock-emWe followed the conventional rules of drawing numbers and allowing people to choose whether to open a new gift or steal one from a co-worker. The first gift stolen was an antique-looking key which doubled as a bottle opener and tripled as a wine corkscrew. Fantastic! Another popular gift was a singing, dancing, pudgy man holding a beer mug.

Hilarity ensued as we opened gifts such as a programmer’s “survival kit" complete with the oldest software possible, a Joomla shirt and a 6-pack of beer. I’m sensing a theme here …

my-hankeyEveryone ended up with gifts to cherish. You cannot put a value on used firefighter boots and a book about surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. You just can’t. And, one co-worker got the last laugh as I opened the final, unwanted gift, after all of my gifts were stolen. Yes, Kenny G.’s “Duotones" CD is the gift which keeps on giving. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Best Buy gift card Tom had cleverly tucked inside the CD, however. So, all’s well that ends well.

fondueOur team had a lot of fun, countless laughs and we’ll be inviting the White Elephant back to our room next year.

Happy Holidays from Trivera!

Laurie Vogt
Search Goddess and Chief Fun Officer

Future Web: Skating to Where the Puck is Going

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky attributed his success to a simple philosophy: "Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is. It ain't where the puck is, it's where the puck will be."

What your company is doing with the web is a lot like a hockey game. If your only focus is a web site based on an assumption that all your visitors are sitting at their desks viewing your site on a 1024 x 768 resolution desktop monitor, you're skating to where the puck was. Even if you've begun to toy around with making your website more mobile friendly, you're still skating to where the puck is.

As an early adopter of the Internet as a powerful marketing tool, and founder of one of the Midwest's first Web development firms, I remember the days when 87% of all businesses polled said they would never have a need for a website. My challenge for over 16 years has been to be chasing after the future and dragging clients kicking and screaming behind me, hoping they'll keep up.

And it's about to get even harder.

Over the past few days, I've been spending time with the presentation Stephanie Rieger gave to the Breaking Development conference in Orlando, Florida. It's an eye opening look at how the web is evolving. Where it used to be something you'd go to the computer or your mobile device to "do," it's rapidly becoming something that's always on, connected to everything we use to provide us with any knowledge we need just as we need it. As Brad Frost aptly put it:, you need to get your content ready to go anywhere because it's going to go everywhere. Skating to where the puck is going means moving to a world where internet touch points go beyond browsers, smart phones and tablets to now include treadmills, refrigerators, cars, and a million other "smart things" that we haven't even begun to imagine. A world where search engine queries are replaced by contextual information fed to us based on our interests, needs, and location, the keyboard having been replaced by GPS's, our voice or even our retinas. The journey to where the web is headed has shifted into hyper drive, and in the process is shattering the paradigms. And it's about to leave many businesses, and even some self-professed "web development firms" in the dust.

That's why I'm so fortunate to have the team here at Trivera. While still understanding the need to provide superior, best practice web experiences for our clients (delivered on time, scope and budget), we take regular time out of the office every Friday to talk about, and plan for, the technologies, platforms, tools, ideas and directions that will help us embrace the future web.

As a result we've continued to push the envelope and come up with some pretty amazing stuff:

  • You have an e-commerce-enabled B2B website but still achieve your highest sales with your independent distributors? How about a fully integrated tablet-based tool for them to use in the field to coach them real-time to up-sell, cross-sell, check inventory, lead times and create and submit an order.
  • Your customers are voicing a common complaint that's not your fault, but due to their forgetfulness? How about a reminder with the appropriate information sent to their mobile device when it detects exactly when and WHERE they need it?
  • You have a brand with a huge community that needs Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Flickr functionality, but has huge archival resources you don't want to trust to those Social Media sites? How about an online community with full desktop, mobile and tablet compatibility with check-ins, photo uploads, topic threads, member chat and any other features the members say they need?
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I've always been totally flabbergasted by traditional ad agencies who say "Oh, yeah, we do web too." Many are still trying… and still failing…to embrace even 10 year old best practices, and thus skating to where the puck was. A few conceptually get it but don't have the breadth, depth and length of experience to hire, manage or direct a team with the necessary skillsets, and so also are still skating to where the puck is. In the minority are the brave, visionary few who not only are embracing concepts like responsive web, but even seeing that as an experience we'll one day look back on with the same quaint nostalgia that we have for stuff like Cue Cat, Flash, 56k dial up and AOL.

I guess there are parts of the marketing world where a business just needs a small desktop-sized brochure-ware website, and the agency that does their direct mail, yellow page ads, and print handouts can create a cute little site for them. And there are other parts where an agency is able to convince a business to pay megabucks for a pay-per-click-supported big honking Flash landing page.

You won't find Trivera or our customers there. We're all too busy skating to where the puck is going.

Trivera Websites Win National Design Competition

Trivera Interactive, one of the Milwaukee area's most established digital agencies, has been recognized by New York-based Graphic Design USA for its excellence in website design.

Seven websites created by Trivera were recognized for outstanding work in internet and interactive design. They include:

. "The 2011 American Graphics Design Awards attracted a remarkable 8,000+ entries; a very select 15 percent are recognized with an Awards Certificate of Excellence," said editor/publisher Gordon Kaye.

'We are thrilled to have our work recognized as part of this national competition," said Tom Snyder, President/CEO of Trivera. "Our designers have been doing great work for clients since our founding in 1996, and it's great for them to be recognized on a national stage" Snyder added. Andy Frahm and Ian McDowell are Trivera's designers who will be listed, along with examples of the winning designs, on the Graphic Design USA website and in a full-color 300-page annual in the near future.

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Graphic Design USA has presented national design competitions that spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals For nearly five decades. The American Graphic Design Awards is the origi­nal and the flagship, open to everyone in the community: advertising agencies, graphic design firms, corpo­rations, institutions, publishers and more. It honors outstanding work across all media: print and collateral, advertising and sales promotion, corporate identity and logos, internet and interactive design, packaging and p-o-p, broadcast and motion graphics.

Trivera Interactive has been helping businesses re-enforce their brands by leveraging Web technology since 1996. As one of the Midwest's oldest and most respected digital firms, Trivera continues to lead the way in Web and application development, Search Engine Optimization and Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media and Mobile Web and Applications creation from their location in the historic Mill Building in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

For more information, contact Tom Snyder, 262-250-9400