Ideas, musings and inspirations.

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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Buzzwords, such as “native advertising,” “brand publishing,” “custom content,” “sponsored content” and “corporate journalism” are fresh industry lingo for what advertisers have been trying to do since the dawn of advertising – appeal to potential customers with content.

Though the ultimate goal of content marketing has stayed the same, the agencies and mediums of delivery are vastly different. Companies are turning to web content experts to produce ads that reinforce their brands while matching the editorial voice that the site’s dedicated readers have come to expect.

Upworthy — a website for viral content started in March 2012 — creates content marketing for clients. They recently created “Watch the Spread of Walmart Across the Country in One Horrifying GIF” and ran it on their site for the AFL-CIO.

“Our goal in this process was not to advertise for the AFL-CIO or to promote companies,” said AFL-CIO digital strategies director Nicole Aro. “It was to instigate conversations that are happening around what people feel in their everyday lives.”

Atypical creative shops are popping up everywhere. The Onion, yes that Onion, did a mock campaign for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in 2012, and has been doing ad work ever since under the nameplate Onion Labs. Their client list speaks to their success thus far.
Even Buzzfeed, home of endless listicles and time-wasting quizzes, is producing what they call “featured partner” content, such as this list for music-streaming service Spotify.

Has your brand considered using a sponsored-content service?

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Like a mythical search for a leprechaun’s pot of gold, marketers must often undertake a circuitous route to evaluating ROI.

First, there’s the bravery test. Post-recession marketers now find themselves defending every penny in an otherwise tight budgetary environment. Those who can muster the courage to tie marketing and ROI together will always have a compelling and competitive edge.

Second, there’s the wisdom test. One of the conundrums that we frequently see in analytics is the desire to measure everything. But that my friends is a quicksand from which there is no escape. While we can measure just about anything these days, the wiser question is “should we?”

I’ll admit to the guilty, geeky pleasures of drilling down into the latest Google Analytics report, following one thread of a thought process, then mining further for other facets in search of an explanation. Who hasn’t? The point is that it’s way too easy to get distracted by those threads when you don’t have a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to steer by.

William James, the American philosopher and psychologist said, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

Third, there’s the fool’s gold test. Consider this problem. You’re responsible for a non-retail website. There is no historic, legacy data. No prior year’s analytics. However, there are five years of annual sales reports showing a spike in October, a dip in December and recovery in January. Still, the client looks at December’s web traffic report and says it’s too low and there must be a marketing campaign to make it bounce back.

Do you work 72 hours straight to build a marketing campaign that will increase web traffic? (That’s fool’s gold.) Or do you work with the client to help them understand that their budget is better spent elsewhere since web traffic mirrors the sales cycle and will recover on its own? (That’s the pot of gold.)

Finally, an Irish proverb that’s tailor-made for those of us who love marketing ROI…

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.

For the past two years, I have been using SCSS to build my websites. Developers everywhere have touched on the many benefits of SASS/SCSS compared to LESS and vanilla CSS in the past, so let’s just skip ahead to doing something cool.

With large higher education websites, I was finding that I was rewriting the same code many times in many different areas. To simplify this, I started building a “style-guide” to help me keep track of these elements for future use.

Complete Base SCSS

The easiest way I could think of to show this was to give you an image, then explain it. So let’s break it down:


This starts out with variable names for every color that I use with the “theme” of the site.  I like to name them with “$client-color: “as a variable name(client being changed to the actual client name), in case we have to cross the css with another file that also has a $yellow variable for instance.

Next I like to define the fonts that we are using. Again, I like to keep it true to normal as I can. Variables like $headline and $body can get pretty ambiguous and messy if there’s too many of them.

With variables, you can inject them into your css and only have to change your code in one place. Like so:

h2{color: $client-dark-blue;}


After I build the colors and fonts, I try to set some standards for the site that will cascade globally. In this example, I have shadows, line-height, font-size and max-width defined. I can then reference them in the body{} tag in the screen.scss file, like so:



The soul of any responsive site. Using variables as breakpoints makes a whole bunch of sense; you can even make minor tweaks to them in production if you need them to be a bit larger or smaller for some unique problems.


And to make this breakpoint fire 50px sooner, while scaling down:




Finally, using the variables we defined above, we make our mixins for the header styles and other common things, such as animations, buttons and lists. Mixins work by building a group of elements and then injecting the whole group into you css, like so:



At the very bottom, we put all of our includes for other pages and compass elements into the base, leaving this page as the only import we will need on screen.scss



Building a style-guide can make developing large, complex sites easier since you defined all of you base styles in the _base.scss which allows you to change one variable instead of having to find/replace a hex code in a large CSS sheet.

There are many more tricks to SASS and SCSS that I haven’t touched, in fact after two years, I have barely scratched the surface with what this powerful pre-processor can do.

Have any comments about what else you would include in a style-guide? I would love to hear them!


Every preschool has a point of view. All point of views are good, for some group of kids out there. But the only point of view that appeals to us as a company is the one that meets the child wherever the child is developmentally and nurtures the child’s spirit from there. Shady Lane is that special school. How would I know? Well, all my three children went there and grew in leaps and bounds during their years there. Surprisingly, the teachers challenged us as parents and we too grew in leaps and bounds as well.

We were proud to design their website a few years back and now ever more proud to relaunch it by making it responsive i.e. you can now enjoy a graceful site experience on desktops, tablets and smartphones.

Perhaps the best preschool in Pittsburgh

And now
Perhaps the finest preschool in Pittsburgh

Visit their website at and learn more about our website design and development services.

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Visitors to a website can come multiple times using any combination of direct, online search, ads, emails, etc. as sources before they convert. In previous versions of Google Analytics reports only the last touch point for a conversion was reported on. With the introduction of multi-channel funnel (MCF) reports, prior touch points which led to a conversion can also be reported on now.

As I talked about in my previous post, Google Analytics (GA) campaign tags can be used to get information which otherwise is lost due to web protocols. Reports under the Acquisition tab in GA provides information on sources of website visits  such as direct, search, referral, social, newsletter, banner ads, etc. as shown in the screenshot below:





In one of my previous posts, I showed how to  identify and tag various marketing touch-points, which otherwise show up as direct visits. As a follow-up to that, our next step is to measure the effectiveness and contribution of these channels to influence visitors when they take action.

In order to get to these valuable insights in GA, setting up of Goal(s) is a prerequisite. A goal could be defined as analyzing visits to target page, time spent on site, number of pages viewed, completion of forms and so on. This can be set-up in the admin section of the website’s GA profile.


Once the goals are established, Multi-Channel Funnel reports under Conversions will show the details of all touch points prior to conversion. There is a nice slider option which lets user s choose the time-frame between 0- 90 days prior to conversion.




Before the introduction of Multi-Channel Funnel reports, marketers were always interested in knowing the various paths to conversion but had to juggle a lot of factord such as coding to capture and report on these paths. With the addition of MCF reports, getting this information is made easy.

Isn’t that neat?

We are very honored to launch the first inbound marketing resource for higher education marketers and enrollment marketing teams. It’s free and comprehensive.

As the old era of traditional college search comes to an end, inbound marketing heralds the new era of authentic, high quality content marketing that deepens brand trust, achieves SEO rankings, and attains social sharing with the spirit of attracting more of right-fit prospects. Colleges are not only trying to recruit students to meet their enrollment goals, they are trying to recruit successful alumni.


It includes five sections: audiences, strategies, tactics, tools and ROI, so those working in higher education marketing can understand how inbound marketing works.

Inbound marketing will impact the admissions funnel and student life cycle in four different ways:

First, it brings more right-fit prospective students to your website.

Second, these prospective students are more likely to apply and enroll.

Third, schools will have a better chance at retaining these students.

Finally, colleges will recruit the right-fit students who are most likely to become long-term donors.

Experience it at the official Inbound Marketing Flashcards website.

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