Ideas, musings and inspirations.

Friendship between First Commonwealth Bank and Elliance goes back a long way. In 1998, Elliance designed the bank’s second website. Since then, Elliance has redesigned the bank’s website three times – most recently three years ago before responsive design movement took off.

Last fall, First Commonwealth Bank reached out to Elliance and posed an interesting challenge: make the current website responsive without redesigning it. The bank’s customers still loved their branch-architecture-inspired website design but wished it was mobile/tablet friendly. Elliance welcomed the challenge.

Responsive Bank Wesbite

In short three months, we delivered well-documented responsive templates to their Web/IT team, and walked them through the template architecture. Then we supported them for another three months while the wonderful Web/IT team incorporated the new templates into their Content Management System. The entire process worked very smoothly. Two happy teams!

Most importantly, the site visitors are now enjoying the perfect website experience whether they are visiting the bank website from their desktops, tablets or smartphones. Now, that’s peace of mind.

Learn more about Elliance responsive web design services

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1. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.
(Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)brainbrain2
2. Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them.
(Source: MarketingSherpa)



3. Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined.
(Source: PriceGrabber)

pinterest4. Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.
(Source: Internet Retailer)

5. 46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company.

Find more great arguments for visual content at HubSpot.

1.      Create Clear Objectives

The best objectives include specific measurable milestones (achieve sales of $1MM, increase conversion rates from 65% to 75%, etc.); are meaningful to your end goal; and are set at a realistic level that is motivating to your sales and marketing team.

2.      Use Appropriate Analytics

Establish a metrics protocol that maps back to your objectives. Challenge every initiative to have a meaningful objective and means for measurement. Develop a process for reporting performance on a regular basis and share the results with your team and other stakeholders.

3.      Measure what matters most

Data is everywhere. It’s easy to get lost in the analytics. Prioritize what you are measuring and make sure it is clearly aligned with your objectives. You’ll elevate your entire team’s focus and momentum by identifying and prioritizing 2-3 primary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

4.      Possess a test and learn mentality

Marketing plans are often built from the prior year and based on what worked in the past. But emerging technology is driving new ways to reach your customers. Allocate a percentage of your marketing budget toward a test-and-learn investment. Then, use these efforts as a low-risk way to try new approaches and keep your brand fresh and relevant.

5.      Embrace Agility

Marketing is a fluid process and the ability to quickly adapt to learnings and changing conditions is critical. Measuring your communications with A/B testing in paid ads, using multiple subject lines in email and optimizing keywords will lead to a greater ROI on your investment.

Read more in Elliance’s May newsletter.

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As the oldest of six children, I’m a classic “first-born” with all the characteristics that come with that territory. And, because I was the eldest, I was frequently assigned special duties to help my mother run the household. Much of what is most important in ROI, I learned from her.

Here are four “mom-isms” that apply to marketing ROI.

Timing is everything. I learned early to shop on certain days for the best sale prices. The same is true for ROI. You can “shop” your metrics every day, but the price will be higher. You’ll sink more time into trying to make sense of micro-events that are often misleading. Don’t make yourself crazy. Instead, pull your data on the same day every month and monitor macro-trends. You’ll be on firmer ground for long-term decision making.

Plan ahead. Do you find yourself down a different metrics rabbit hole everyday? Are your stakeholders making different requests each day/week/month for analytics reports? Like the competing voices of siblings vying for parental attention, it can be a challenge to allow each person to be heard. So, it pays to plan ahead and reassure them that a thoughtful approach exists before any concerns arise. For example, gather stakeholder input on what metrics they want, document the agreed-to set of KPIs and schedule reporting cycles. Then, distribute that roadmap to your stakeholders. Demonstrating a well-planned approach pays off.

Share your toys. Yes, ROI is my own geeky little toy. But, it’s hard to build internal advocates and champions unless you educate stakeholders (marketing peers, senior management, clients, IT, etc.). Find those key champions and begin sharing key marketing metrics with them. Make reporting part of a formal agenda. Use every opportunity to increase their sophistication on analytics.

Save for a rainy day. Mom used to say, “put something away for tomorrow.” In terms of ROI planning, keep a folder of potential enhancements, relevant reports, industry articles, new techniques, emerging models and other “wish list” items to consider in the future. It’s a great way to maintain day-to-day focus on ROI, while keeping possible future enhancements within sight.

Learn more about Elliance analytics and metrics.



According to Inside Higher Ed, “About two-thirds of high school students use social media to research colleges, and more than one-third of those students use social media to help decide where to enroll.”

So why do colleges and universities post unsharable content to social channels that are designed for sharing?

Posting the merits of your curriculum, class schedules and holiday wishes for your current students has a certain amount of utility. But is that content, which could easily be relegated to a page on the University’s main site, being shared with prospective students?

Probably not.

Social media is about people. People use it to post pics of themselves and friends. People use it to promote their righteous cause. People use it to find righteous causes to support. So it’s no wonder that posts about inspirational alumni, professors and community leaders get passed around much more than a post about summer scheduling.

The University of Pittsburgh recently shared a tremendous story about John C. Downs, who at 90 years old is receiving his diploma from the school. The post received 96 “likes.” And it’s a story that appeals to both a reader’s curiosity while maintaining brand message.

Robert Morris University, just outside of Pittsburgh, garnered 88 likes and 10 comments on their Facebook page by sharing a story about a dance team co-captain who won the 2014 Presidential Transformational Award, RMU’s highest undergraduate honor.

Carnegie Mellon University announced that the VP of Google Pittsburgh will become the Dean of their school of computer science. Three-hundred and forty-seven people liked this post.

While it is very important that prospective students know about your institution’s values, mission and curriculum, such info is better served away from Facebook, Twitter, etc. Because as the above examples show, social media is about people.

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Many colleges who invest in videos to market their higher education institution experience low views, shares and engagement. There may be many reasons as to why these videos don’t return results. However, this does not mean that one should stop using video as a marketing medium. There are many compelling reasons to continue to use and expand on a video marketing strategy. Here are a few of those reasons:

  1. Video consumption is on the rise: Video is one of the most popular ways of consuming content on the internet. It’s not surprising that YouTube is now the number 2 search engine in the world. People watch 3 billion videos a day on YouTube and over 450 universities have established a channel on YouTube EDU. With Facebook and other social networks incorporating more and more video content, these numbers will continue to rise.
  2. Video production has become easier than ever before: Good quality video recorders are available on cell phones and availability of cheaper and more compact video recording technology has made it possible for students, prospects, faculty and staff to produce videos. The introduction of YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other video hosting platforms has made it even easier to post them online. Colleges and universities should tap into this opportunity and get great user generated content which can potentially be used as marketing material.
  3. Video content gets ranked on search engines: Another compelling reason to invest in video is that video content ranks well on search engines. Due to the nature of its interactivity, it is easy to view and consume. As students conduct much of their college search online, it is crucial to reach them in as many ways possible. A recent survey by Uversity shows that nearly three-quarters of students use social media to research colleges. The same survey also shows that YouTube comes in second, only to Facebook, as one of the sites which prospects use to research colleges / universities that they are considering attending. Well-optimized, interesting video content will get ranked on search engines and reach prospects who otherwise may not have found that information.
  4. Videos increase click-through rates and conversions: Embedded videos on websites, paid landing pages and email have resulted in improved click-through rates (CTRs), engagement metrics and conversions. Videos on landing pages have shown to improve conversion by up to 86% and those embedded in emails have resulted in increased CTRs, more time spent on the email and increased shares of the email.
  5. Videos can be used as a branding tool: Student testimonials, virtual tours and campus videos are all ways of selling the campus experience to prospects. Students can get a feel for campus culture from these videos and connect with it.

How are you using video in your digital marketing strategy?

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Retargeting allows you to follow users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse the Web.

You want to be sure you are getting the most out of your retargeting campaigns, and most importantly, your repeat visitors.

Be sure to avoid these 3 retargeting mistakes:

1. Unclear and non-specific visitor segments

One of the biggest mistakes is to retarget to ALL visitors from the pages you are targeting. You want to be sure to create visitor segments that align with your goals and your audience. For example, you should not show an undergrad retargeting ad to a prospect who just visited your MBA program page.

2. No tags on important pages on your website and/or campaign landing pages

Once you’ve determined your retargeting campaign objectives and campaign segments, it’s important to tag all of your web pages properly. Then, you can create campaigns that target each visitor segment.

3. Not using all available ad banner sizes

It’s important to run your banners in all available sizes to ensure your ad gets placed when possible. With retargeting, you are bidding against thousands of other advertisers to show ads to your past visitors. Ensure your banners get placed and stand out.

Retargeting can be a very powerful digital marketing tool when used correctly. There are lots of specifics when running these types of ads, but these are the 3 biggest mistakes you want to be sure to avoid.

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You’ve probably watched enough “Law and Order” episodes to be familiar with the phrase, “follow the money.” Usually the prosecutor is telling the detectives or a forensic accountant to “follow the money.”

The same is true for smart CMOs.

Right now, we’re being bombarded daily with talk of “Big Data.”

And, while it’s easy (and often more convenient) to look at myriad data points on impressions, circulation, visits, postcards dropped, day parts, opens and other metrics, they are only leading indicators of the real question. “How much money did we generate?”

So, in the spirit of April. Don’t be fooled. Focus on ROI.

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Today was a great day for Elliance, and Aerotech. We accomplished an engineering feat which is a rare occurrence in any company’s history. A little over a year after launching their English website, we launched the German version of the website for Aerotech. The intriguing part of the story is that the German website wasn’t built as a standalone website; instead, a common code base, data model and content management engine powers both their English and German websites. This translates into nominal costs for creating each additional international website and fixing a problem in all international versions in case a problem is discovered.

Doing this for a marketing website is an accomplishment in itself, but doing this for a marketing website with complex add-ons such as site search, facet search, international dealer locator, a complete product catalog and SEO hooks is an accomplishment on a different scale. It’s as if we were climbing uphill with extra weights added to our backpack.

Metaphorically speaking, building software for a one story house, 10 story building or a 100 story skyscraper are totally different types of undertakings. While we routinely develop one story and 10 story websites, we excel at and love the challenge of building software and systems for 100 story skyscrapers.

Aerotech International Website Design
Click here to visit their German website and click here to visit their English website.

Aerotech is literally on fire. They have expanded their manufacturing facilities and are growing like gangbusters. They are not only dedicated to the science of motion, but they truly are best-in-class in their space. Stay tuned for more international versions to arrive in the upcoming months.

Three cheers for the Elliance team for accomplishing this amazing engineering feat. And for Aerotech to live and embody their brand essence even in their website.

Learn more about our website design and website development services.

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Our passion for our visual thinking and visual explanations gets recognized in unexpected places. Over the years, a ton of blogs and several books have included our infographics. And now this: Randy Krum included our SEO infographic “Page Rank Explained” in his recent book. Check out page 115.

cool infographics

Thank you Randy! And kudos to the Elliance team for dreaming of share-worthy infographics!

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