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How This Weekend's Big Game Has Gone Digital

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

*Sucuri Website Hacked Report 2016 Q1

Trivera turns 21!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Tom Snyder

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

 

Do Donald Trump and Bill Penzey Have Something in Common?

By Tom Snyder, President/CEO

“Never discuss religion or politics.”

Great advice for keeping the peace at family gatherings and a generally accepted principle for most corporate social media marketing plans.

Is it ever safe to break that rule?

An important component to your brand is its differentiator – that thing that makes you different from your competition. That differentiator could very well be your stand on a controversial political issue.

Consider this year’s presidential race, in which each candidate took a political stance and drove it hard on social media, with no concern about offending those who disagreed. The goal was not to appeal to everyone. It was to build passion and create loyalty among an audience just large enough for the candidate to win.

Campaigns and cause-based organizations succeed only by effectively using social media to communicate a political agenda or ideology.

But what about a commercial business?

Business owners like Penzeys Spices chief executive officer Bill Penzey, Jr., and Hobby Lobby CEO David Green have taken controversial positions on hot-button political issues and have leveraged social media to establish those positions as their differentiator. The social echo chamber brings out and amplifies the voices of legions of people who disagree with their positions and threaten to boycott, as well as others who praise them and promise to support them. In both cases, measurement is demonstrating the success of each strategy.

If your potential market is large enough that you can do well with portions of that market being offended or inspired by your discussion of religion or politics, do the research before you begin, and constantly measure while you’re doing it. Strategically breaking that long-held rule can be a key to your success.

This article originally appeared in the BizTimes.com Social Media Strategies Column, in January, 2017

Looking for some design inspiration? Hit the road!

By Christina Steder, VP Client Strategy

hittheroad-image.pngMany years ago when I was an assistant buyer for Kohl's Department Stores, I had a theory that car companies are indicators of color trends. Of course, the most popular car colors are always pretty basic - white, grey, black, etc. About 75 percent of cars sold are one of the basic colors. But there is always at least one "interesting" color in the mix. Remember when there were suddenly lots of brown cars on the road? Or way back in the 90's when there were a ton of crazy teal colored cars?

So how do they do it? Car companies work with paint manufacturers 3 years in advance to determine their color palette. They look at the same things most other designers look at - architecture, electronics, nature, clothing trends - and then develop a list of suggestions for the automaker that is adjusted to the company's preferences and target audiences. Right now, car makers are looking at palettes that include browns, oranges, golds, and lighter blues. Interestingly enough, those are the same colors that our own Serene Mireles has been collecting in her private design inspirations Pinterest boards.

The important thing to remember is that no matter where your inspiration comes from, we are all to some extent influenced by the same trends. In your business, it's important to be aware of these trends because they will impact your marketing. Trends are why your logo eventually looks dated and your website has a shelf life. On the bright side, digital marketing efforts can be updated much more easily than printed materials. Paying attention to trends gives your brand the opportunity to make small enhancements to your digital efforts which can help you evolve as tastes change.

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

5 Reasons Why Sliders Suck (and 4 Things To Do Instead)

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

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There’s been a lot of debate in the world of web design about using a slider/carousel (see the study by usability expert, Jakob Nielsen).  They look nice, but as a lover of modern design and architecture, I’m a firm believer in form following function. Sliders aren’t functional. (We're in the process of redesigning Trivera's website, and we're not including one!)

Here are five reasons why sliders don’t convert (and can hurt your SEO):

  1. They slow down your site
  2. They look like ads, so users scroll right past them (banner blindness)
  3. They dilute your marketing message—there’s no focal point
  4. Sliders that automatically advance take control away from the user
  5. Research shows that only about 1% of users click on sliders


Slider Alternatives


So what should you use instead? We recommend creating simple content that clearly communicates your company's message. You can achieve that with one of the approaches below.

Use a hero image. A static hero image (a large full-width image) with a strong marketing message and a call to action can achieve a similar look to a slider. It provides visual interest to grab a user’s attention, and creates hierarchy on the page. This approach has been proven to convert. Here are some examples of sites that use a hero image with a call to action: Moz , Starbucks, Netflix and  Hello Fresh.

Use a video. Videos engage users. They tell a story, create human interest, and can quickly deliver your message. Here are some examples of successful sites that use a video: IBM , Blue Apron, Airbnb and HP.

Use a lead generation form or a search form with a hero image. This approach is similar to the hero image approach, but adds a conversion point to a prime area of your site (above the fold.) Here are some examples: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Uber, Evernote and Epicurious.

Use a grid approach. Using a grid approach allows you to feature more than once message without overwhelming a user or slowing down your site. This layout also works really well on mobile devices. Here are some examples: Apartment Therapy, Lifehacker and Twitter.

Even though visitors are used to scrolling past the fold to view engaging, compelling content, the spot typically occupied by sliders is too valuable to waste with anything that doesn't provide measurable value. By using your Google Analytics or heat mapping, you can find the element that best facilitates a user journey that leads to conversion. 

 

About Serene Mireles

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

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

Omelio Hopwood Joins Team Trivera

Omelio Hopwood

Omelio Hopwood has joined Team Trivera as a PHP wizard, with a specialty in Magento development. While developing robust functionality for client websites may not seem exciting, "Oh" (as we call him) has already experienced a more amazing life than most of us will ever live.

Omelio came to the US from Jamaica as a child. Since his arrival, he has always had a passion for all aspects of technology. But, starting in high school, he decided to focus his passion on the web and software development. After graduating high school and spending a year in college, he took a detour and joined the US Air Force. His tour of duty took him to Japan for 3 years. With a new sense of self confidence and worth following his time in the service, he came back and got his Bachelors of Science from UW-M, majoring in Information Science & Technology. Following a stint at the Milwaukee veterans accelerator program VETransfer where he developed an app that got him covered in the Milwaukee Business Journal, his focus of late has been to take his programming expertise, turn himself into an accomplished, certified Magento developer, and become a valuable member of Team Trivera.melio Hopwood has joined our team as a PHP wizard, with a specialty in Magento development. While developing robust functionality for client websites may not seem exciting, "Oh" (as we call him) has already experienced a more amazing life than most of us will ever live.

Previously, Omelio was a Magento Developer at Sitesquad and a PHP programmer at Gross Automation. 

A brand new dad, and new Menomonee Falls resident, Omelio is grateful to have a gig within walking distance of his home so, when he's not working, he can spend all his time with his family.

Why I (and Our Clients) Love the Concrete5 CMS

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

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

Here are a few of its many features:

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


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

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

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

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


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

About Serene Mireles

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

3 Not So Stupid Questions for #AskAStupidQuestionDay

By Christina Steder, VP of Client Strategy

questions_square.jpgAt Trivera, we love it when clients ask questions about the technology we use to support their business goals. Digital marketing changes all the time. Here are three questions we are often asked. And no, we don't think these are stupid questions at all!

1. What's the difference between SEO and PPC? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process we use to help your site rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). If you want to be on page 1 of Google, and aren't planning to advertise, our experts will use SEO to help make that happen. PPC stands for Pay Per Click. Pay per click ads are the ads that appear at the top of the results page when you conduct a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search. There are many reasons to combine SEO and PPC. We can help you decide the best balance between SEO and PPC to help support your business goals.

2. What's a wireframe? Wireframes are like the blueprint of your website. Just like a blueprint shows where the rooms are in your house but not what color the walls will be painted, a wireframe is a black and white sketch-style mockup of your website. At Trivera, we build interactive wireframes so you can see what happens when you click on different elements of your future website, and how your site will look on different screen sizes. Wireframes help you see what information will go on each page, and how the information will be organized. Wireframes do not have any photos or logos and use placeholder text only. This helps you as a client focus on where items such as images, videos, or buttons will be placed on a page without also having to evaluate design elements, such as colors, at the same time.

3. Why do we need to do a discovery? Can't we just start working right away? When you become a Trivera client or bring us a new project, we want to ensure we understand EXACTLY what you need. We apply best practices and research to your work so that we can bring you our best ideas and avoid any pitfalls during your project. Of course, if you need something immediately, we're happy to jump in and help, but our 20 years in business have shown us that taking time up front to fully map out your digital marketing strategy or website development project saves time and money in the long run. Our process identifies every aspect of your brand and your target audience so we can create a tactical plan to attract, engage and convert that target audience, then create the ROI to make your digital marketing plan an investment to be leveraged, rather than an expense to minimized.

4. What does Trivera mean? Trivera is Latin for "Three Truths." Those three truths are:

      • Deliver a Product we can stand behind. Our product is "Digital Marketing that Converts." We know how all the pieces need to fit together to provide a website and digital marketing plan that achieve your brand and business goals, creating measurable success and significant ROI. We only recommend something if we believe it can help you achieve your business goals.
      • Follow a proven process, but be agile. Our process begins with a proprietary discovery that identifies your needs and develops a long term strategic plan with defined, achievable goals. Then it continues with an agile approach to accommodate constantly and rapidly changing tactics, tools, customer preferences and market conditions while keeping the goals and budget as our guiding force.
      • Commit to an ongoing relationship. Our Annual Service Agreement isn't just a document or a contract - it's our commitment and promise to be your long-term partner, delivering the highest quality work possible and helping you and your company achieve your goals.

Any other questions? Just let us know!

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

Five Digital Marketing Mistakes You're Probably Making

By Tom Snyder, President and CEO

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It's been said that the first step to recovery is always acknowledging there's a problem. Because there are no longer any excuses for you to be a bad digital marketer, if you are struggling with disappointing results from your efforts, you definitely have a problem. The good news is that we're here to perform an intervention with a diagnosis of five mistakes you're probably making, along with the solutions to help you return to a state of digital health.

1.) Thinking Tactically, Not Strategically - Too many marketing decision makers fall prey to "shiny object syndrome." Without a strategy to give you solid tactical direction, the focus of your efforts will be directed by whichever new Social Media platform happens to be the flavor of the day. Yogi Berra said "If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else." Create a solid brand strategy that includes targets, goals, roles, to help you determine the tactics that will get you where you need to go. 

2.) Lack of Continuity and Consistency - In an area where success takes both effort and time, consistency is more important than perfection. So many marketers begin with misguided and untargeted efforts, expect vague immediate results, lose steam within a few weeks and simply give up. Les Brown said: "It ain't over 'til I win." Commit to the necessary effort as long as it takes, pausing only to adjust, and stopping only to replace underperforming tactics with something else that will better achieve your strategic goals. Develop an editorial calendar, assigning roles, and demanding accountability allows your entire team to be part of the effort. With everyone pulling together it becomes easier to make sure your efforts are sustained and sufficient to create the results you need. 

3.) Not Measuring Your Results - For centuries, marketers were unable to know for sure which of their efforts were directly responsible for the success or failure to meet their marketing and business goals. But after two decades of the measurability provided by the digital revolution, it's amazing how many marketers still refuse to monitor their metrics and make themselves accountable for meaningful results. Marty Rubin said: "Every line is the perfect length if you don't measure it." The solution is simple: EVERYTHING can...and should...be measured. Do more of what's working, and less of what isn't.

4.) Ignoring Changing Customer Preferences - Assuming that their reality is the same as that of their target audience, lots of marketers let their own biases and fears get in the way of exploring the tools and tactics that research shows will reach their target audience with the brand experience they prefer. Wayne Gretzky said "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Be sure that the customer-facing side of all your digital marketing efforts is aimed where your audience is going to be, arriving with the UX they will be expecting, delivered by the technology they prefer to do business with you..

5.) Not Making an Adequate Investment - Too many marketing budgets are based on the lowest priced response to their poorly written RFP. Regarding digital marketing as an expense to be minimized is the path to failure. Richelle Goodrich said: "If you invest nothing, the reward is worth little." Successful companies budget the amounts necessary for their digital marketing to produce predictable results. Base the amount you spend on a percentage of your annual revenue that's standard for successful companies in your industry.

Are your digital marketing efforts failing? You're not alone. All 5 of these mistakes are typically the result of marketers who take a "do it yourself" approach. Finding a reputable agency who can help you take the above 5 steps will be the first step to put your digital marketing efforts on the road to recovery.

About Tom Snyder

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