Ideas, musings and inspirations.

Mobile searchers

With people relying on mobile more than ever – over half of the trillions of Google searches happen on mobile – Google recently announced changes to favor the mobile experience.

Google is calling this the biggest change since AdWords launched 15 years ago, and in my 10+ years experience working in the platform, I would agree! The changes will expand the length of Google’s paid text ads. This change comes primarily with mobile in mind.

When the expanded text ads become available later this year, here’s what the changes will look like in the headline and description:

Google Expanded Text Ad

Ad Headline: Advertisers will now have two 30-character headlines instead of the current 25-character headline.

Ad Description: One 80-character line of description copy instead of two 35-character lines!

The increase in characters may not seem like a huge difference, but it is! The extended ad format will ultimately give us advertisers the opportunity to create a longer, engaging message to attract more qualified clicks. Google said this new format could show up to a 20% click-through rate (CTR) uplift over existing text ads.

Google hasn’t officially released a launched date for the new expanded ads, but we’ve heard chatter that it will be available by end of summer.

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Leads_Mapping_Diagram-1My family recently took a trip to Portugal and Spain. Be it my first time in Europe, I could compose a never-ending list of all the things that astounded me — from the decadent pastries to the new and exciting symphony of language that filled the air.

The thing I found most astonishing, however, was the intricate architecture that sculpted each building we passed, on every street we ventured down.

In these cities and towns, some over 500 years old, everything is a piece of art. From the cobblestone streets to the burnt Spanish-tiled roofs, every building brightly etched in a different color sidewalk chalk.

I spent every day of our trip 10 steps behind the rest of the group, handicapped by my awestruck wonder and need to photograph every inch of the masterpiece before me.

Even every door was a beautiful creation. Each original and treated with an attention to structure and detail that could not be ignored by passersby.

Some adorned by gold trim, with elaborate carvings etched into the tile. Others featuring ornate curvature of archways and vibrant colors that bring it all to life. No door the same, yet each an invitation to the story behind it.

This got me thinking about the architecture and design that goes into a website.

Oftentimes we think of the homepage as the grand entryway to a website — the main door. When, in fact, with the use of Google search that is no longer always the case.

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Every page could potentially be a user’s first introduction to your site, meaning every page, or door, should reflect the personality of the institution, organization, or company it represents and act as an open invitation.

Each door should have careful attention to detail, as many carvings and accents, as much thought put into the colors and textures, the molding of the frame, as if it were the first introduction.

In the world of website architecture, we are now beginning to utilize what the ancient architects and designers knew 600+ years ago. Front, back or side door, whether seen by billions or seen by one; in the design, in the functionality, in the experience — make it more than just a doorway.

Make it the invitation to your story.

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When it comes to higher education and small and midsize business (SMB) lead harvesting, it is not uncommon to see many sub-domains working in tandem with main marketing websites to generate traffic and inquiries. Add in third party landing page(s), social media posts and email and paid campaigns to the mix and the chances for additional leads ensue. You can only hope that organizational structure dictates that sales and marketing lead activities are well documented and happen in focused, centralized silos for peak follow up, optimized communication and final conversion.

But… this is not always the case because more than often leads are lost when a team member who knows set processes and has intricate local lead gen knowledge moves on or gets promoted before the lead can be converted. Leads can also end up in limbo due to bad lead management with multiple departments handling the same lead request utilizing different strategies resulting in chaos and failure.

Does this sound familiar?

At Elliance, we help our clients troubleshoot and fix lead capture and source attribution problems from their digital properties.

We start with discovery process, collect relevant information, identify all the conversion pages and signals from various digital sources. From our initial findings we produce a layout of all domains, sub-domains, third party apps, forms and lead storage databases. We share this draft with the client to furnish missing data and clarify any misconceptions.

Leads_Mapping_Diagram

This exercise helped identify cross-channel measurement errors and data corruption due to tracking code implementation and recovery of ‘lost’ leads stored outside the main CRM. Both reasons directly affecting the $$ revenue and marketing spend ROI.

In recent years, digital marketing has exploded with rapidly changing landscape and technology. It is very common to engage Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Adroll, Adwords, YouTube, display ads, emails and many more channels to drive traffic to websites. Each of these channels requires use of systems that capture and measure its own signal. Although there are solutions available to manage all these activities from a single application, cost wise, these applications are beyond the reach of most SMBs.

Digital Marketers are responsible for running media spend, creating and maintaining content, measuring results, making adjustments and reporting campaign performance. At times, it is overwhelming to manage data from myriad of sources. Few marketers are lucky to tap into in-house tech support that can provide some level of automation in data gathering and reporting while others spend time manually putting data into reports and spreadsheets. No wonder marketers, with limited resources, struggle with cross-channel measurement.

In the absence of automation, one solution is to utilize Google Analytics features like Goal setting and campaign signals tagging that will provide insights on campaign touch points.

Proper data gathering and meaningful reporting is a journey and it requires proper planning. Some of the steps in this process are:

Think about measurement first.
Focus and measure the right metrics that serve business objectives.
Keep records and share with stakeholders.
Build and maintain a schema of digital presence.
Implement proper tracking on all conversion pages.
Confirm lead capture into CRM.
And finally, follow-up in timely manner.

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According to a recent Gallup report, 71 percent of B2B customers aren’t engaged. Meaning, they are readily willing to take their business elsewhere should an opportunity arise.

Content marketing, a tactic that is widely used to boost engagement and aid many B2B challenges that underpin this problem — customer centricity, relationship building, strategic positioning, etc. — has hardly worked for B2B marketers, particularly those in midsize and small companies. In fact, according to a recent study by MarketingProfs, only 6 percent of B2B marketers rated their use of content marketing as very effective.

Why?

The answer lies in a number of factors that hold to be true across B2B companies.

B2B marketers lack content production capacity

Traditionally, B2B marketers have focused on analytics, sales and quantitative side of marketing to support their customer acquisition strategies, hence not needing superior writing talent. Forced to adapt to the rise of digital marketing, many scrambled to assume the role of content experts, with little or no vision for their long-term efforts. A MarketingProfs survey finds only 32 percent of B2B marketers have documented content marketing strategy, while only 28 percent have an editorial mission statement.

Idea: One solution for B2B marketers is to consider outsourcing. Look for strategic partners that demonstrate genuine interest in understanding your specific challenges rather than applying one-size-fits-all approach. Seek to understand how they’ll collaborate, curate and leverage your internal subject matter experts.

B2B marketers fail to take a customer-centric approach

A Gallup report finds that while many B2B companies believe they have a customer-centric culture, few actually do. What goes on internally, undoubtedly has an impact on what comes out, and in the case of content marketing, failure to put the customer at the center — consider their challenges, yearnings, hopes, biases, etc. — inevitably translates to content that has little to no real relevance for them. However, changing internal culture is a marathon, not a sprint.

Idea: Begin by identifying what aspects of your business currently fail to adopt a customer-centric approach and develop a long-term plan and metrics to support gradual change. In the meantime, filter all content marketing efforts with this question: what problem will this piece of content solve for my current/future customer?

B2B marketers face increasing competition as more content is published

According to the same MarketingProfs survey referenced above, 76 percent of B2B marketers say they will produce more content in 2016 than in 2015. Similarly, more than half plan to increase their content marketing budget. As more content is published, content marketers will naturally face greater competition for customer interest and attention. Only the best content will make an impact.

Idea: For small and midsize B2B companies who lack dedicated content teams, one approach is to focus on quality, not quantity. Use online and social media presence to maximize exposure and get the most out of you efforts. For example, for every substantial piece of content (infographic, video, article, white paper, report, etc.) develop a release plan that highlights a different dimension of content over a span of a few days or weeks.

Learn more about Elliance manufacturing and B2B marketing services.

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Design for mobile first? No way.

I was in denial.

People couldn’t possibly enjoy trolling the Internet more on their smartphones than through their computers. Or could they?

I thought about my own habits. Wake up. Check Facebook. Go about my morning routine. Get ready to leave the house. Facebook. Drive to work. Facebook. Go into work. Work for a little while. Eat a doughnut. Facebook

It’s a vicious cycle.

But what does my millennial, forever-faithful relationship with Facebook have to do with the mobile-first web experience?

The answer is everything.

It’s a truth I wasn’t ready to accept, but then the usership numbers started rolling in on a landing page I designed recently.

Ninety eight percent of users were visiting this particular landing page on their… you guessed it… mobile devices. And there it was: concrete, matter-of-fact, absolute data that proved my thinking was completely flawed.

What now, huh? What does this mean?

Thanks to Facebook, (Or, no thanks to Facebook, depending on how you see it.) web designers must retrain their brains to think in reverse. It’s like learning to roller skate backwards. It’ll take some time. We may fall down a few times and stumble over a few unsuspecting kids in the process, but it won’t be as hard as it looks.

We’ll have to spend more time and energy on the mobile experience than we had previously, in order to cram all the great visual things you love about the desktop experience into the palm of your hand. And we’ll do it. We’ll do it so well, you won’t see the blood, sweat and stumbles it took to get there.

And while it’s true that not all websites attract such a high percentage of mobile users, we can’t ignore the facts. Mobile usership is only growing. Step up, or step out. Either way, I’m dreaming small.

 

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Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540

“Everything you quote — every movie, every TV show, every lyric — has been endlessly rewritten… Fall in love with rewriting!”

My uncle, who is a great writer, recently said these words.

And I love them. It’s a process I know well.

Every brand.

Every headline.

Every script.

Every sitemap.

Every webpage.

All of it.

They’ve all been nipped and tucked and scrapped and scratched out and added back in and shifted and shaken not stirred and screamed at and forgiven and rinsed and repeated.

A bucket brigade of project managers, clients, writers, editors and SEO strategists passed the words back and forth.

Commas were nixed and then added again.

A passionate battle in grammar rules that frankly are meant to be broken likely made its way in.

And I’ve fallen in love with this process.

As you’re reading this, I’ve probably already changed this post and these words — probably this word — ten times. Make that eleven.

In an excerpt published in Fast Company last year out of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s memoir, Getting There: The Book of Mentors, Weiner talks about a concept in art called hiding the brushstrokes — or hiding the steps that it took to create the masterpiece.

“If you don’t get to see the notes, the rewrites, and the steps,” Weiner writes, “it’s easy to look at a finished product and be under the illusion that it just came pouring out of someone’s head like that.”

I suppose that’s the point.

For writing to be so flawless it seems like it was easy.

But for young buck writers like myself, it’s nice to have role models who don’t hide behind this false idea that to write is to close ones eyes and out pops a vision with the right words to say — a perfectly compiled manuscript floating high above our heads and glowing angelically.

(Sure, this happens to some people. But they’re the worst.)

It’s more like spending weeks in a mosquito-infested cabin in the middle of a swamp with nothing to eat but day-old pizza and emerging covered in algae, body odor and bug bites with a crinkled and grease-stained piece of paper above your head that slightly resembles what the finished product will be in another few weeks or months or so.

As Amy Poehler in Yes, Please puts it, “The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not.”

But she also says this:

“Watching great people do what you love is a good way to start learning how to do it yourself.”

And I think that’s what makes a place like Elliance such a special place.

I get to work with great writers, and great professionals who don’t pretend their work isn’t hard.

Because hard work is way more deserving of celebration than something that came in a vision anyway.

 

Facebook Live, available worldwide for both iOS & Android

Facebook Live, available worldwide for both iOS & Android

Facebook has recently made available a plethora of new video options for both pages and individual users to use for engaging more authentically with their friends and fans. This includes their recently released feature called Facebook Live, which allows you to connect with your fans, friends and followers by sharing real-time video of what you’re doing.

Marketers especially in the higher education industry should definitely jump on this because it creates an intimate, authentic connection with your audience and most importantly it humanizes and personalizes your brand. It is important to appreciate the importance of a live video in terms of the audience engagement and post visibility, Facebook Newsfeed is not in a chronological order rather it is a personalized feed which shows what is most relevant to the user. Since the release of Live, Facebook has tweaked its algorithm to show Live videos more likely higher in the News Feed.

When you use Live with your page, you already have an acquired audience that is ready to watch (your fans). So when you do go live, Facebook sends out a notification to all the fans that you’re live and hence you gets great organic reach.

Facebook recommends several best practices for Facebook Live. In addition, some practices that are relevant in the higher education industry:

  1. Plan ahead what are you going to show and talk about so you don’t have awkward pauses where you’re thinking what to talk about next. Your video should be focused around a topic for e.g a one on one interview with the admissions panel going through their thought process on how they admit a student. Many institutes write a blog post about this but there is nothing more authentic in hearing from the person him/herself and that too live!
  2. Respond to your audience when appropriate, Live allows the viewers to comment while they are watching you. If they are ask relevant question it’s a great idea to acknowledge them and respond to their query. For e.g during a live interview with the admissions panel a viewer may ask “How important is my high school GPA in the process”. Answering the question right then would enrich a potential applicant’s experience with the institute even before he actually starts the admission process.
  3. Tailor broadcasts around a focused audience, Live allows you to stream your video to the participants of a particular event you created on your page or a Facebook Group that you maintain in addition to your page. This changes how you do free webinars, no need to pay for GoToMeeting now as delivering a free webinar is now extremely simple. Create a public/private event and broadcast your live video to all the people who are attending it.
  4. End with a specific purpose, With live videos it might be easier to direct your pool of audience to a specific action that you want them to take. End your video on a call to action. For e.g. if you decide to do a live video tour of the college campus it might be a good idea to ask the audience at the end of the video to visit a specific website to register for a physical tour/webinar etc.

Live video streaming is a new feature and a few have jumped on to it so far, it is an incredible opportunity for higher education marketers to showcase their college in a new and authentic manner. Since Facebook loves videos and Facebook Live seems to get a much higher organic reach than other types of content (my news feed right now is 50% filled with Live video streams), it’s definitely worth getting into Live and thinking creatively on how to engage your fans.

We’re entering this new golden age of video. I wouldn’t be surprised if you fast-forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video. – Mark Zuckerberg

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Not since radio in the 1920s and television in the 1960s has a medium played such a significant role in a presidential election.

In February, copywriter Erin McCarthy discussed how social media, particularly Snapchat, was changing how voters follow election results, but social media has also transformed campaigns themselves in ways that were unimaginable just a few elections ago.

In 2004’s Bush vs. Gore contest, Facebook had just launched nine months prior and Twitter did not come online until 2006. Four years later, social media would go from an election non-factor to a powerful voter engagement and outreach tool.

In 2008, a relatively unknown Barack Obama mobilized millions of voters, primarily through Facebook, and went on to defeat two political veterans, frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the democratic primaries and Senator John McCain in November’s general election.

In 2012, President Obama continued his social media dominance by taking his ideas straight to voters, posting nearly four times the content of Mitt Romney and other opponents, and on almost twice as many channels. That campaign was a study in digital grassroots campaigning.

social media presidential campaignPerhaps it’s not surprising then that team Obama would share this now iconic 2012 victory image on Twitter, a photo that was retweeted over 800,000 times, breaking all prior Twitter records in the process.

While Barack Obama will certainly go down in history as the author of the modern day digital campaign playbook, today’s presidential candidates are completely rewriting it to leverage the growing number of social networks.

In 2016, the question is not which candidates are using social media, but what channels are they using and who is using them most effectively to engage supporters and donors.

  • Hillary Clinton released a 2016 campaign playlist on Spotify
  • Ted Cruz live-streams campaign events on Periscope
  • Bernie Sanders excels at creating shareable content and generating social buzz
  • Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush both announced their presidential bids on Snapchat and notably engaged in an entertaining photo shop battle on Twitter over education policies
  • Jeb Bush used Instagram to broadcast two videos announcing his Right To Rise super pac
  • Lindsey Graham announced the suspension of his campaign via a YouTube video
  • Donald Trump, who has more social followers than any other candidate, has mastered the use of Twitter, from unscripted late night tweets to live tweeting democratic debates

It is estimated that the 2016 presidential candidates, both past and present, will spend $1 billion on digital with over half going to social media. So who is winning the battle for online followers? According to Blue Compass, Democrats have an edge on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, while Republicans enjoy a sizable lead on Facebook and Twitter.

Regardless of who ultimately proves victorious in their quest to become the 45th President of the United States, one thing is clear—social media will continue to be king of the campaign trail for years to come.

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The Problem:

During development on a recent project I was tasked with creating some Front End animations for a web app. This application would present a user with a list within two tabs (the tabs will display the list by either A-Z or by Category). Within these tabs you can also filter the list, and this is where the animation exists. Items would disappear and reappear. Wanting greater control over the animation, compared to simple JQuery, I started finessing CSS animation.

I quickly ran into a problem. I found that the CSS animation would re-fire/re-paint when the tabbed content came back into view.

Example: Toggle between the tabs and note that the animation fires each time you return to “Tab #1”

Why was this happening? I double checked my keyframe statement. Made sure I was setting animation-fill-mode to “forwards” to prevent repeating the animation. After much research and testing, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the CSS animation, which meant that it had to be within the JQuery.

The only JQuery being used was for the tabs. The tabs were using .hide()/.show() to swap the tabbed content into view. ‘Under the hood’ .hide()/.show() is placing an inline style of “display: block” (.show()) and changing it to “display: none” (.hide()).

 

The Solution:

After some testing (changing .hide()/.show() to use visibility:hidden/visible) I found a solution that would hold the CSS animations state.

Corrected Example: (Feel free to hit “Rerun” in the lower right to re-trigger initial animation”)

Unbeknownst to me display: block/none will re-paint/re-animate css animations when switched. Using the visibility property will preserve the animation state. Note that you will need some additional styles to remove the space left by visibility:hidden by setting a max-width to zero and overflow to hidden.

facebook social media strategy

In the paid advertising world, it’s easy to determine your ROI if you’re using analytics to track all of your efforts. But when it comes to social marketing, there are so many metrics and variables it can make your head spin. Not to mention that each social channel provides different data and definitions for metrics.

In Facebook, specifically, it’s all about getting fans (or page likes) and building long-term relationships with your fans.

There are numerous strategic ways to find relevant Facebook fans – both from paid advertising and organic reach.

It can be hard to put a value on engagement metrics, but a report states that the average value of a Facebook fan is $174*. So, say you were able to get 25 new page likes this month — that would equate to a value of $4K!

Implementing a strategic social campaign, with both paid and organic tactics, can help build relevant Facebook fans for your page.

Here are a few snapshots from our Client’s Facebook insights to show how a well-oiled, targeted paid + organic social campaign can help increase total page likes month-over-month.

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*In their study, Syncapse “compared Facebook fans and non-fans based on their corresponding product spending, brand loyalty, propensity to recommend, media value, cost of acquisition and brand affinity,” to arrive at $174 as the average value of a fan across the large global brands in the survey.

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