Ideas, insights and inspirations.

With the maturing of the digital age, traditional public relations, or PR 1.0, has evolved into PR 2.0. The traditional rules of PR for building reputation in key areas and conveying values have fallen to the way side, and a new paradigm has emerged. Instead of relying on media relations contacts as gatekeepers for the select few, authority and expertise now flows from numerous faculty, staff, students and alumni. The voice of authority has been replaced by the voice of many peer experts. Mass communications has been replaced with personalized messaging.

Today’s public relations 2.0 marketers need to employ and harness personalized, story-centered communications to steer their institutional brand:

Create Buzz on a Person-to-Person Level

In contrast with the mass communications style of traditional public relations, PR 2.0 professionals create influence by starting, joining and shaping one-on-one conversations. They rely on storytelling rather than press releases. They make the faculty, students, alumni and the centers of excellence the hero of the story, positioning the institution as the enabler. They promote content because each instance of sharing creates a ripple effect of word-of-mouth influence.

Harness Content to Strengthen Institutional Reputation

In the world of PR 2.0, reputation builders let the forces they control, and the forces they don’t, become mutually reinforcing. They curate content, spark conversations and promote content in channels they control (“owned” media, such as the website and social networks) and monitor the channels they don’t control (the social media of people/organizations in your network). Armed with the knowledge that Google page one rankings are fueled by fresh content, they transform their static print magazines into digital streams of SEO-optimized stories. Furthermore they encourage their faculty to supplement academic publishing with thought leadership blogs. They know that these incremental Google page one ranking gains will eventually translate into traditional university rankings.

Command Thought Leadership

Instead of encouraging their schools to sponsor conferences, the PR 2.0 professionals spur deans and faculty to create new symposiums in emerging niche areas of institutional advantage. Instead of asking faculty to attend conferences, they direct them to speak as thought-leaders at these events.

Fortify All Touchpoints

Finally, the PR 2.0 professionals encourage their institutions to invest in first impressions, including brand, website, wikipedia listing, social media channels, search engine snippets, open houses, information sessions, facilities and grounds, classrooms, tours, and admissions office décor. All entry points to your brand must be right, tight and bright — and refreshed periodically.

If you are seeking a agency that can assist you with building reputation in the digital age, review our marketing and PR capabilities and consider contacting us.

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Inbound marketing is founded on the principle of attracting, engaging and delighting audiences through valuable, personalized content. One of the best strategies for reaching audiences through inbound marketing is blogging. Well-optimized blogs have become one of the best ways to increase visibility, traffic and reputation by ranking on top of Google search results. Here are some case studies where our inbound marketing and blogging efforts have paid off for many clients:

Capitol Technology University

Background: Capitol Technology University, a national leader in cybersecurity programs, is a small STEM university located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. They are a part of the job-rich pipeline supplying human capital to America’s most technologically advanced government agencies and their private sector supply chains. They turned  to Elliance to position them as one of the leaders in  STEM education. 

What We Did: One of the main focuses of our inbound marketing campaign has been to optimize their blog content. They were running a pretty robust content engine on their blog but the missing part was optimized content. Elliance created a Keyword Guide and an Editorial Calendar to inform their content machine, and optimized their blog posts to achieve top Google rankings.

Results: As a result of our campaign, the majority of their blog traffic now comes from organic search, which is a result of the top rankings that they’ve achieved.Their blog traffic has doubled in the last two years. Currently, their blog accounts for almost 30% of their overall website traffic which has continually grown year over year. 

Carlow University

Background: A small Catholic college in Pittsburgh, PA, Carlow has a lot to contend with. With the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University just down the street and another 26 regional colleges, Carlow wanted to strengthen its reputation, expand its geographic footprint,  and increase enrollment in some of its key helping professions, humanities and technology  programs. 

What We Did: We employed the power of SEO and started an inbound marketing campaign. First, we crafted a Keyword Guide and an Editorial Calendar that would inform their content campaign. Next we created a blog along with an optimal tag and category structure. Since some of the faculty members showed interest in supplementing our blog writing efforts, we offered them a blog-writing workshop.  

Results: As a result of our efforts, blog traffic increased 460% year over year and their blogs were shared almost 11,000 times in a two year time frame. The senior team presented the results to the university’s board of trustees, who were pleasantly astonished to find Carlow on Google page one for almost any keyword they typed. After three years, Carlow unaided brand awareness grew measurably and enrollment grew by 9% — the highest in a decade with the largest growth coming from organic visitors.

Hartford International University of Religion & Peace

Background: Unique among theological institutions across the globe, Hartford International University has built an interreligious environment like no other. They turned to Elliance for help with rebranding, changing their name, developing a new identity, rebuilding their website and starting an inbound marketing campaign. With a completely new, recently re-launched program portfolio, they needed help with building visibility for those programs and strengthening their reputation with their new name. 

What We Did: Our foundation work of brand and website redesign really set the stage for us to build on to launch our inbound marketing campaign. Starting with a Keyword Guide and Editorial Calendar that would give direction to the campaign, our next step was to create a blog. The focus was to secure Google page one rankings for interreligious education however someone searched for it. We wanted to set them up as a thought leader in the realm of interreligious and interfaith education. 

Results: As a result of our consistent content creation and optimization efforts, Hartford International University is now ranked for a large number of variations of keywords like  “interreligious studies” and “history of interfaith dialogue” on page 1 of Google. Their blog traffic has increased 407% in the last two years while their blog organic traffic has increased over 1,700%. They have become believers in SEO/inbound marketing and insist on incorporating it into their annual marketing budget. 

William Woods University

Background: Located in the middle of  Missouri, – an hour from Saint Louis and three hours from Kansas City – William Woods University is a community of more than 3,500 students, representing traditional undergraduate, graduate and online students. They offer some really unique nationally acclaimed programs like ASL and Equestrian along with other commodity programs like Business, Communications, and Liberal Arts. More than six hundred of their  Education program alumni have gone on to become assistant principals, principals, superintendents and district superintendents in the state of Missouri. 

What We Did: Our partnership with William Woods spanned 7 years during which we rebranded the school, redesigned their website, ran paid digital and inbound marketing campaigns.  We created 5 blogs to raise awareness beyond Missouri for their undergraduate, graduate and online programs. 

Results: As a result, we were able to track 482 keywords, 66% of which were ranked in the top 5 positions on Google. While the SEO/inbound campaigns were live, their Facebook followers more than doubled , and for 5 straight years we saw increases in blog traffic every year. Their undergraduate enrollment grew modestly, their graduate enrollment grew by 20%, and their online enrollment doubled. Once again, the largest growth came from organic visitors.

Saint Vincent College

Background: A small, liberal arts, catholic college in Latrobe, PA, Saint Vincent is built on the principles of educating students to build a more inclusive society. Located an hour from Pittsburgh, attracting students is a challenge. They came to Elliance to help them increase brand awareness and enrollment across all their undergraduate programs. 

What We Did: They partnered with Elliance to re-launch their brand and redesign their website. As part of the website launch, we baked SEO thinking throughout their website to gain rankings on search engines across all their programs. To promote key programs, we used an inbound marketing campaign and set up a blog to continue to improve rankings and gain higher visibility for the brand.

Results: The Saint Vincent blog received a 795% increase in traffic from year 1 to year 2.  The overall organic traffic to the website improved by 32%.

If you are seeking a higher education inbound marketing agency to grow your enrollment, endowment and reputation, consider partnering with us.

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Brand anthem videos are powerful marketing tools that distill the argument for a college brand’s essence, and reason for being in a concise and impactful manner. They often serve as the centerpiece of a college or university’s branding, enrollment and fundraising campaigns. Once produced, we use them across various marketing channels including websites, social media platforms, advertising campaigns and open houses. They are carefully curated to create brand preference and connect with audiences on an emotional level.

Here are four examples of brand anthem videos we’ve produced, SEO-optimized and promoted.

The first one was used as a cornerstone of capital campaign for Boler College of Business at John Carroll University. It helped raise $25M and has garnered more than 68,000 views since its launch four years ago.

We used the second one as a cornerstone of an integrated enrollment marketing campaign for New York Chiropractic College (recently renamed to Northeast College of Health Sciences). It has not only received more than 66,000 views in the past six years, but it also helped grow enrollment by 40% in its first three years.

The third one was a bedrock of an integrated enrollment marketing campaign to grow enrollment at William Woods, a liberal arts university with a professional leaning. It has only received 6,600 views but the campaign grew undergraduate enrollment by 10%, graduate enrollment by 20% and doubled their online enrollment.

The fourth one was a keystone of a rebranding engagement that led to rebuilding 15 core websites for The Catholic University of America, the Pope’s University in America. Due to our efforts, we saw enrollment numbers soar by an astounding 25%.

Over the past three decades, Elliance has produced brand anthem videos for catholic, faith-based, liberal arts and community colleges; business, law, medical, and engineering schools; as well as technology, agricultural, and healthcare universities.

If you are seeking an inspired higher education branding agency for your institution, view our brand development capabilities and consider partnering with us.

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Colleges and universities are akin to a small town and serve a vast plurality of people.  A college website, being its digital soul, serves a multitude of functions for its many audiences: prospective students, current students, parents, alumni, faculty & staff, donors, employers, research partners, foundations, media, financial institutions, and nearby communities at large. In this blog post, I’ll limit my focus on tips and best practices for user experience design of college websites for increasing enrollment.

It all begins with seven essential questions prospective students have

User experience is human experience. Prospective students are on their personal hero’s journey. Beyond their personal needs and wants, they have dreams they hope to fulfill, ambitions they wish to achieve, and challenges they aim to overcome. Ultimately, they want to enroll in a college which can give their spirit a fighting chance to blossom and thrive.

Let’s assume that a prospective student has just arrived at a college website after gathering preliminary information about the college on search engines, social media and word-of-mouth. An effective college web user experience should make it easy for them to quickly find the answers to seven burning questions:

  1. Does the college offer the programs I am interested in? If so, are enrolled students happy with the program, its faculty, its labs and facilities, its job prospects and its support network?
  2. Can I afford to attend this college? Can it supplement what my family or I can afford to pay with sufficient financial aid to cover the tuition, room and board costs?
  3. What are my chances of being admitted to the college, given my grades, standardized test scores and experiences?
  4. What are the campus community and culture like? Will I fit in? Will I belong? Will I thrive? Will I find “my people” there?
  5. What are the chances of me getting a good job after graduation that’ll ultimately put me on a trajectory for a respectable career and life?
  6. If everything checks out, what are the deadlines and next steps?
  7. Is this college and program worthy?

A good college website user experience must meet a few key criteria

Broadly speaking, an intuitive and wholesome college website must meet three criteria. It must be:

  1. Informative; the student must be able to easily find answers to at least the seven essential questions outlined earlier.
  2. Inspiring: the student must feel a good fit between themselves, and the college and the program of interest.
  3. Trusted: the student must be able to trust and respect the institution.

Executed gracefully, these factors are the surest path to garnering a return on time, energy and monetary investment.

Top best practices that college user experience designers must keep in mind

From a prospective student viewpoint, a good college website must meet the following criteria:

  1. Given that most prospective students live on their mobile devices, a college website must work gracefully on popular smartphonses.
  2. Clear college brand identity and essence.
  3. Intuitive navigation through the collapsible hamburger menu.
  4. Uncluttered, distilled information that leads students to the answers to the seven key questions outlined above.
  5. Beautiful, inspiring design.
  6. Photographs that tell stories. Videos that are short and to the point.
  7. Intuitive interaction design for carousels, accordions, forms, videos, etc.
  8. Simple, yet powerful site search.
  9. Accessible to special needs students viewing the website on their unique special devices and machine readers.
  10. Ability to share the page with friends and loved ones.
  11. Clearly convey deadlines and next steps.
  12. Silently powered by unobtrusive SEO so all programs, centers of excellence, informative blog posts, magazine stories are ranked and findable on search engines.

A more formal way to distill all this into a framework is as follows:

It takes a disciplined approach to arrive at an intuitive experience design. Steps include discovery, competitive benchmarking, persona development, journey mapping, content strategy and creation of sitemap and wireframes followed by design, copywriting, website development and user testing.

In an upcoming blog posts, I’ll address my focus on tips and best practices for user experience design of college websites for increasing faculty, staff, alumni, partner and media engagement.

If you are seeking a higher education marketing agency with expertise in user experience design, please see our work and consider partnering with us.

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Olds College of Agriculture & Technology sits in the center of Alberta, at the northern edge of North America’s Wheat Belt, a vast swath of the Great Plains. The school’s Smart Agriculture Ecosystem — with labs, 3,600 acre Smart Farm and researchers — plays an outsized role in advancing a range of digital agriculture innovations designed to sustain Canada’s position as one the world’s largest agricultural producers and exporters.

The Olds College leadership team turned to Elliance to translate a new public-facing name and brand position into a full website relaunch focused on clear business goals:

  • Grow the number, geographic reach and diversity of its prospect pool.
  • Increase research funding, industry partnerships, major gift donors.
  • Leverage digital content as a catalytic force to secure non-branded, organic page one Google rankings

The Elliance website team prioritized the following site features and outcomes:

  • Transform oldscollege.ca from a quiet enrollment website into a true digital content platform and conversion machine, capable of expanding the reach and impact of Olds College of Agriculture and Technology across enrollment, reputation building and fundraising.
  • Animate oldscollege.ca (design, video, photography, brand voice) with verve and confidence to match the school’s new brand declaration — Break New Ground.
  • Change outdated perceptions of Olds as a regional ag college and amplify the sprawling research portfolio, faculty and facilities to supercharge the persuasive draw of the school’s innovative programs.
  • Use the power and flexibility of digital communication to sew together a more coherent articulation of Olds College of Agriculture and Technology as a dynamic, seasonally-rich, life-changing place, far greater than the sum of its disparate acreage and parts.
  • Amplify the school’s name recognition and voice across provincial, national, and global influencers.

The oldscollege.ca website was launched last spring. Transformation has begun. Recognitions have already started coming in. Recently, it was ranked #4 amongst Canada’s top 50 research colleges, #2 in college research intensity, #8 for college research income growth. In the small tier college category, Olds College made the top 10 for research partnerships and paid student researchers, and is number 11 for completed research projects.

Research Infosource Inc. also featured a five-year college spotlight on industry research income from 2018 to 2022 which highlights Olds College’s continued research success. Olds College ranked in the top five for industry research income and industry research income growth, as well as the top 10 for industry research income as percentage of total college research income.

More to come. Stay tuned.

If you are seeking a higher education marketing agency or a college website design agency, please see our work and consider partnering with us.

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Website projects are huge undertakings. What ultimately matters is not the effort you put into them but the return-on-investment you derive from it. Making a business case for investing in a comprehensive website redesign to bottom-line-driven, quant-minded manufacturers requires hard-nosed, disciplined thinking.

Remember that what you invest in a new website design will determine the returns you can expect from it. Assuming you have baked all the best practices into a redesign project, you can and should expect solid returns. Here are five ROI metrics that we have used to justify the investment in a comprehensive website redesign:

1. Increase in Inquiries and RFQ’s: Website projects should always result in quantifiable increase in inquiries and RFQs. For clients who have been re-packaged as solutions providers, the thickness of their RFP’s should grow in size. All clients should expect to see an increase in PDF downloads and event signups.

By elevating your brand during a website redesign, the increases should not just come from bottom feeders for low-margin products, but from right-fit clients for higher-margin prospects in highly-coveted markets.

2. Reduction in Time to Sale: Effective manufacturing websites surround and engage the prospective buyers at every stage of the decision funnel with unique content. They accelerate sales by building brand awareness and early brand preference during the education/awareness stage, reinforcing the brand during the consideration stage, and providing brand reassurance during the decisioning phase. As a result of these efforts, they should experience a reduction in sales cycles.

3. Stronger Keyword Rankings: Baking search engine thinking into every phase of redesign enhances a website’s Google rankings. This should result in a measurable growth in number of keywords on Google page 1, increase in organic traffic, increase in non-branded traffic and expansion in geographic reach. The result should be an increase in number of inquires and RFQ’s originating from search engines, and an increase in number of inquires and RFP’s for higher-margin solutions. You should expect to see an increase in search engine traffic by 25% to 30%. The lowest ROI we have delivered is 5X, and the highest a whopping 100X.

4. Strengthened Brand Awareness: Since industrial website redesign projects typically fortify both products/services and career development resources, they result in an increase in the number of products and job listings ranked on Google page 1. As a result, manufacturers enjoy expanded geographic footprint, expansion into new markets, and a reduction in recruitment costs. Over the years, we’ve delivered on all these fronts.

We track and create a trend line of number of times the brand name surfaces and is clicked on search engine results pages using Google search console data. Our SEO/Inbound clients should expect this to grow upwards year-over-year.The non-branded to branded organic traffic ratio should rise over time. For most of our clients this ratio begins around 20/80 or 30/70 and rises all the way up to 60/40 or 70/30. Occasionally, it rises up to 80/20 and 90/10. We’ll monitor organic search volume over time by measuring the organic traffic as a percentage of overall website traffic trended over time. We expect this to grow upward year-over-year for all our clients.

5. Increase in Revenue:  Since industrial website redesign projects increase the number of keywords ranked on Google page 1 and the overall brand impressions, the manufacturer’s geographic footprint invariably expands to new markets and new geographies. Great websites increases sales. They have created order backlogs for our industrial clients, whether they are an e-commerce client or RFQ-based. For the clients we’ve packaged as solutions providers, they have all enjoyed growth in their average order size and profitability.

Beyond the quantitative ROI, we have observed that website redesign projects are a catalyst for transforming a manufacturer, liberating new prosperity and realizing destiny. A great website redesign project energizes the entire corporation, and creates a new corporate inflection point.

Contact us if you are seeking a smart manufacturing marketing agency which can help you join the elite group of manufacturers and industrial companies growing their company’s share of mind, voice and market using our website design services.

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Today, more than any other touch point, a website is the digital soul of an organization. As one of Pittsburgh’s longest standing manufacturing website development agencies, Elliance has been delivering prosperity to regional and national industrial companies for the past 30 years. Our arsenal of website development best practices includes:

1. Start With a Smart Strategy and Plan

Revenue Strategy, Communication Strategy and Search Engine Ranking Strategy are the three pillars of a smart manufacturing website development strategy. Bake each of them into every stage of website development.

A good website development project begins with a thoughtful plan. Map out and outline all of these facets up-front:

  • Ambitious goals and objectives – for inquiries, revenue, communications and search engine
  • Target audiences – buyers, influencers, specifiers and talent of all ages you plan to recruit
  • Requirements and needs – for users (stated and unstated), business, content administrators
  • Content strategy – in service of delighting each target audience
  • Specifications – for user experience and interactive elements
  • Functional requirements – including a system of calls-to-action
  • Merchandising approach – for selling, cross-selling and up-selling of products and services
  • Integration requirements – with analytics, marketing automation and third-party applications
  • User experience requirements – including design, progressive disclosure, and navigation system
  • SEO strategy – infusing keywords in every phase to ensure Google and Bing page one rankings are secured
  • Domain architecture – for the primary website and potential campaign landing pages
  • Content-migration and URL redirects – retaining your past SEO rankings and building upon them

Despite all the planning, be prepared for some surprises along the way such as with third-party integrations and new requirements surfacing midstream.

Aim higher to meet the needs of more digital savvy users.

2. Make it Easy to Use for Content People

Content people naturally don’t have sufficient programming know-how. They are looking for easy to use, point-click-and-type interfaces on their website platform. They want the ability to view content as the website user would experience it before publishing. They want the ability to roll-back if the need arises. A sound website platform should support workflows, access control lists (ACL), the ability to create a smart page builder, create-once-publish-everywhere capabilities and development-staging-production environments.

Delight content people.

3. Make it Beautiful

Strategy is invisible. Good design makes it visible.

There is a generational change of guard underway that is affecting manufacturing. Boomers are retiring and Gen-Xers, Millennials and Gen-Zers are taking over. This is true for both industrial buyers and young talent they are trying to recruit. Manufacturers can’t expect these people to buy into or buy from a company with a tired, old manufacturing aesthetic. Younger buyers and talent are increasingly digitally savvy. To appeal to them, manufacturing websites should consider incorporating nature-inspired organic forms, cool digital design, and interactive energy. They need to convey manufacturing expertise backed by thought-leadership and a quiet, confident modernity.

Milton Glaser, the iconic designer, once said “There are only three reactions to a piece of design: no, yes or WOW! Wow is one to aim for.” We couldn’t agree more.

4. Appeal to Strategic Buyers, Tactical Buyers and Influencers.

Smart manufacturing marketers realize that not all customers are born equal. New websites are focused on converting both high-margin strategic buyers and an emerging generation of tactical buyers. Along the way, they must persuade the influencers also.

Increasingly, buying is a committee decision. Meet the needs of all members of this comittee.

5. Build Critical Features

Here are some smart features worth considering offering to your smart engineering-minded buyers:

  • Product catalog and services – as a quick reference to your offerings
  • Custom solutions – to facilitate higher-margin, complex sales
  • Project galleries – to showcase your solutions in action
  • Markets served – to reduce buyer’s risk of buying from you
  • Customer stories, testimonials and third-party validations – again to reduce their risk of buying from you
  • Auto-complete site search – to give quickest path to your products and services to repeat buyers
  • Faceted search – to show depth and breadth of product (and service) offerings
  • Configurators – to engage your buyers
  • Resource center – to provide convenient access to all your brochures and spec sheets
  • Blog – to convey product and thought leadership, and fresh content to feed the Google and Bing bots
  • Customer portal – to enable customers to find answers to routine questions about their past purchase history, warrantees, add-ons, and a whole lot more
  • Multi-language support – to facilitate international and multilingual buyers

6. Make it Search Engine Friendly

If a manufacturer can’t be found on page one of Google or Bing, its products can’t be bought. 90% of users never go beyond page 1 of Google results. Organic rankings (i.e. the top 10 natural search results) are clicked more, trusted more, and convert three-folds better than paid ads. 

Manufacturing website designers and developers must start their projects in collaboration with SEO marketers who’ll research and assemble crucial search phrases in a Keyword Lexicon. The lexicon should inform all aspects of website design including user experience, information architecture, initial website content, website development and ongoing content upgrades. Keyword categories in the lexicon should include products/services, applications, industries, reputation, decisioning, and strategic buyer questions. Keywords must include a variety of phrases used across the buyer journey and the talent recruitment journey. It is imperative for the website designers to use SEO best practices to ensure that manufacturer’s products and services, thought-leadership content as well as job postings can surface on page one of Google and Bing.

Google page one is destiny.

7. Make it Mobile-First, Responsive, Fast-Loading and ADA-Compliant

These factors are both good for business and good for search engine rankings.

Given that close to half of website traffic now comes from mobile devices, build a responsive website (i.e. auto-adjusts to various browsing devices) that is mobile first and delights people. Since page load speed is a Google ranking factor, avoid cheap hosting services, and ensure the website developers have a proven record of building clean, efficient and fast code. Make your website ADA compliant (WCAG AA 2.2) website to serve all audiences and avoid being sued by unscrupulous law firms chasing non-compliant websites.

What you can’t see can hurt you.

8. Power With Smart CMS Technology wtih a Maintenance Mindset

Google rewards fresh content. The ease of uploading new content and updating the website depends on your chosen content management system (CMS).

Depending on website requirements, the size of your organization, your need for flexibility and internationalization, availability of in-house technology talent and budgets, you must either pick a proprietary, open source or commercial grade CMS that best suits your needs. Ensure it support a “Smart Page Builder” that lets you create your entire website and custom layouts from a single interface. Ensure it is thoroughly SEO-friendly and plays well with other software components such as analytics, marketing automation software, CRM software, tracking tools, and more. Most importantly it should be easy to use for content people.

Since websites are dynamic entities, it should be coded to be simultaneously logical and easily maintainable. Documenting the code is crucial. 

A good CMS should let you operate a website with almost the same ease as you use utilities at home.

9. Test, Test, Test and Then Test Some More

Zero defects matter as much for websites as they do in manufacturing.

In accordance with quality guru Dr. Deming’s advice, ensure that quality is built into every phase of the project. However, to ensure that the end-product meets the highest standards of quality, test the pre-launch website across a number of platforms and devices to ensure that the responsive design maintains its integrity, passes the Google mobile friendly test, and adheres to Google Core Web Vitals guidelines. Test on common smartphones, tablets, desktops and laptops, as well as the most recent versions of popular web browsers whose usage is more than five percent of the total website traffic. In addition, test each website page for ADA WCAG 2.2 Level AA compliance using a variety of automated testing tools (WAVE, FAE, AXE, DubBot) as well as manual testing to ensure that these standards are met.

Aim for nothing less than zero defects.

10. Build for Security

Prepare yourself for a world where a cyberattack is initiated every 39 seconds.

Build your website code with protections from spam and SQL-injection. Use HTTPS and stay up to date on SSL/TLS versions. Ensure operating systems and CMS security patches are installed as they surface, a few times a month.

The last thing you want to experience is website downtime or to be held hostage to ransomware.

11. Host It Right

Because websites are mission-critical, people are impatient and Google penalizes slow websites with lower rankings, hosting matters a lot.

  • Ensure your website is hosted securely on a high-speed Tier-1 environment, and weekly software and security patches are deployed.
  • Protect your website hosting environment from ever-evolving malware and attacks. Apply security patches promptly.
  • Keep your uptime high with 24×7 monitoring and daily backups.
  • Automate infrastructure configuration and code deployment.

Cheap shared hosting will hurt you.

12. Implement Kaizen Principles of Continuous Improvement

In business as in life, the ground beneath our feet keeps shifting. A great website is a living, breathing information organism that adapts to the changes taking place in the business environment.

Implementing Kaizen principles for a website involves continuous improvement and optimization of various aspects to enhance user experience, increase efficiency, and achieve business goals. Improve user experience with user feedback, fortify persuasion based on what rainmakers are saying is working now, optimize pages based on what performance tools are reporting, tweak SEO meta-data and copy with newest insights, improve conversion paths based on user behaviors, and implement security patches as new vulnerabilities are discovered and announced.

After a website goes live, SEO engagements and paid advertising campaigns become the touch points where ideas are exchanged between us and our clients. These are crucial moments of change and adaptation that deliver long-term success that clients had hoped to achieve.

13. Measure ROI

You can’t manage what you can’t meausre.

Upstream ROI metrics include increase in inquiries and demand, achievement of thought leadership, and increase in brand value. Keep an eye on downstream metrics also such as bounce rates, conversion rates, time on site, growth in organic traffic, content popularity, expansion in reach, and more. Establish regular meetings to measure ROI.

What ultimately matters is not the effort but the return-on-your-website-investment.

Remember, the underpinnings of great websites are simplicity, humanity and performance. The simpler and more predictable the user experience and the more human-friendly the content administrator’s experience, the more complex your website backend will be. Great website developers lean into this paradox and love delivering joy, brilliance and satisfaction to both website users and content administrators. They prefer long-term client relationships so the website continues to evolve and perform better every month and every year.

Looking for a professional manufacturing marketing agency to design and develop your website? Review our website design and website development expertise and contact us if you wish to join the elite group of manufacturers enjoying business growth with their websites.

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Elliance, a higher education enrollment marketing agency, has built a reputation by both increasing and growing enrollment for more than 100 colleges and universities. Founded on the principle of right-fit matchmaking, our recommended strategies revolve around six core beliefs. First, if they can’t find you, they can’t buy you. Second, if they do find you, you can’t bore them into buying from you. Third, back your claims with proofs. Fourth, ensure that students are able to see themselves at your institution. Fifth, pursue right-fit students at all cost. Sixth, you must be easy to do business with. All our recommended actions for increasing and growing college enrollment revolve around these core beliefs:

1. Activate a Winning Strategic Plan

Winning, not playing and optimizing, is what successful college presidents focus on. To create an inflection point, they sometimes deepen their competitive advantages and at other times disrupt and challenge the status quo.

College presidents lead strategic planning based on thorough, objective assessment of institutional strengths and weaknesses in the context of societal shifts. They involve board members, faculty, alumni and corporate partners in their strategic planning process. To enact change, presidents must be keen observers, strong persuaders and strategic communicators. Their challenge is to effectively use key framing questions to challenge old ways, butcher a few sacred cows and tell stories that infuse new worldviews.

To become a school of consequence, you must behave like one.

2. Define a distinctive hook

Consider declaring a unique hook, like offering a graduate-in-four-years guarantee (e.g. Randolph-Macon College), a job placement guarantee (e.g. Capitol Technology University) or a tuition lock (e.g. William Woods University grad and online programs). Parents and students are attracted to colleges willing to stand behind their commitment to graduate students on time and help them get a job.

3. Invest In A Brand. Speak with One Brand Voice.

In the sea of sameness, brands win. A brand is the sum of all experiences, be they virtual, experiential or architectural interactions. It is the DNA of an institution that affirms its purpose, defines its core values and highest ideals, creates distinction, and is the foundation of its reputation. Speak with one brand voice to all audiences, but strike different notes for each segment of students, alumni, donors, partners and influencers.

All great higher education marketers engage in branding to position their colleges and universities as institutions of consequence.

4. Grow Your Reputation

Great colleges curate, orchestrate and elevate their content strategy to deftly manage their institutional destiny with flagship publications, storytelling on websites and social media channels.

They maximize their content productivity and amplify their thought leadership with a Keyword Lexicon –  comprised of high-value words and phrases you can rightfully “own” in service of both attracting right-fit students and building an impeccable reputation. They insist that each and every piece of content a college produces is infused with keywords, so it can secure its rightful Google page 1 rankings.

They widen their content reach beyond alumni and friends to influence people who aren’t aware of their college brand. They measure and communicate the economic impact of their institutions.

Google page 1 rankings are destiny. When you secure them, traditional rankings will also follow suit.

5. Offer In-Demand Degrees

Offer an academic portfolio to prepare students for the near and far future. This can take various forms.

You could become a niche college. If you are a niche college, offer an inch-wide, mile-deep portfolio of programs. Palo Alto University offers psychology degrees only, Wheelock College offers child development programs only, Capitol Technology is Washington DC and Maryland’s STEM university, and Thunderbird School of Management specializes in International business only. Inch-wide, mile deep.

You can also become a professionally minded liberal arts college. For instance, Bryant University will not let a student graduate in business without a liberal arts minor and vice versa.

If you are a broad based educator, offer a largest variety of majors and minors. Catholic University of America, for instance, offers more than 400 degrees.

6. Make First Impressions Count

First impressions matter.

  • Create a transformative website. Create an impeccable website. Make it beautiful. Invest in high-fidelity academic program pages. Make it alumni success centered. Make it outcomes centric. Make it conversion friendly. Make it search engine friendly. Make it responsive. Make it accessible. Feature institutional reputation points. Showcase groups of students in social settings. Celebrate campus life. Celebrate your star students, alumni and faculty because they, not the institution, are the real heroes of your story.
  • Make your social media about your students, alumni, faculty and experiences.
  • Claim your Google page 1 rankings – ensuring the information that appears on search engine results is persuasive and inviting.
  • Create high-impact open houses, information sessions, and campus tours.
  • Make your classrooms, admissions décor, facilities and grounds beautiful because beauty engenders confidence.

Remember you become the story you choose to tell.

7. Create a Culture of Service

Of course you ought to create an adaptive, dynamic and participative campus culture that’s inclusive, diverse and respects differences. Of course your students, faculty, and staff must reflect the emerging realities of our pluralistic culture, society and world. But what people crave most is a psychologically safe environment, a culture of reciprocity, and an ethos of giving to students, others and society.

It’s not the strongest, nor the fittest, but the most caring that flourish.

8. Build relationships with corporation and community

Higher education institutions live in an ecosystem of mutually beneficial relationships with corporations and community organizations as natural allies. Creating porous walls between the institution and these natural allies is an integral part of the job of everyone at the college. The external partner relationships are valuable in three ways:

  • Parents and community members exert considerable influence on future students’ enrollment decisions when they are choosing a college.
  • External partners offer students internships, co-ops and jobs.
  • As government research funding has dried up, corporations, civic organizations and alumni-led entrepreneurial companies have stepped in to form a new source of college revenue.

These allies can create opportunities for forming new institutional trajectories.

9. Build your athletics

Nothing builds school spirit better than athletics and intramural sports. That’s true whether a college is a Division 1, 2 or 3 sports school. Support athletics. Contrary to common belief, the athletes’ habit of achievement transcends sports into their personal, academic and professional lives. Nurture them.

10. Serve diverse audiences and support them

Explore and harvest new student streams such as adult students, online learners, distance learners, graduate students, international students, and professional development communities.

Recruit, enroll and support students, faculty and staff from diverse faiths, ethnicities, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds. Allocate budgets to fund talented teams, effective management practices and smart technologies so the college is prepared to serve and support the various student segments.

In a college, the needs of your students must come first. Care of the students will create a reservoir of life-long memories and goodwill you’ll need to create lifelong relationships. A diversified culture and revenue stream will also future-proof you.

11. Deploy enrollment practices for growth

Since the vast majority of colleges are tuition dependent, your enrollment team must achieve predictable and reliable enrollment revenue for your college by attracting increasingly robust, motivated and diverse students.

  • Embrace machine learning, algorithmic and big data driven enrollment marketing strategies.
  • Invest in CRM and Marketing Automation software.
  • Fish where the fish are (hint: digital media).
  • Attract and enroll only right-fit students.
  • Activate an effective marketing air game. Understand target audiences. Create psychographic and demographic personas. Fortify academic program pages. Deploy smart paid and SEO strategies. Conduct email marketing. Activate traditional media and PR. Deploy both traditional admissions funnel and inverted admissions funnel strategies.
  • Communicate with influencers. Because students are heavily influenced by their peers, parents, teachers, college counselors in high schools, and principals. Ensure you proactively communicate with influencers. 
  • Mobilize a strong boots-on-the-ground game plan. Foster relationships with high schools. Encourage campus visits. Provide virtual tours. Attend industry conferences and events where prospects might be competing in competitions.
  • Create feeders. Offer summer camps and pre-college programs.  Cultivate relationships with attendees and their families.
  • Follow-up on a timely basis. Activate a personalized contact strategy system by a partially automated comm-plan.

You are recruiting students who’ll be your brand ambassadors and life-long donors. It pays to invest in attracting, converting and retaining the right-fit students.

12. Build an endowment war-chest to improve student experience and rankings

Recall that 60% of the US News ranking is based on selectivity (25%) and placement success (35%). With a solid endowment war-chest, you’ll be able to:

  • Modernize your facilities
  • Contain the class sizes
  • Attract the best-fit students
  • Manage the placement of your graduates
  • Keep the student/faculty ratio as small as possible

13. Respond to trends

Adapt and refine your strategies based on the evolving landscape of education and the preferences of your target audience.

If you are seeking an enrollment marketing agency to grow enrollment for your college or university, view our higher education marketing capabilities and consider partnering with us.

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As a leading social media agency for manufacturers and industrial companies, we are frequently asked to share our best practices. This is part of a series of posts to explain how social media audit can serve their interests.

A social media audit involves a comprehensive review of a industrial company’s primary social media channels, profiles, activities, and performance. The goal is to assess the effectiveness of the current strategy and identify areas for improvement.

After gaining access to a manufacturer’s social media management software or accounts, we conduct a twelve-point social media audit to assess the following:

1. Profile Information Audit
We assess all official social media profiles to ensure accurate and consistent information is presented, including logos and colors, profile pictures, cover photos, about information, and contact details.

2. Platform Presence Audit
We identify all social media platforms where the manufacturer has a presence. This includes major platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Pinterest, etc.

3. Content Audit
We evaluate the type, frequency, and quality of content posted on each platform. We assess whether the content aligns with the manufacturer’s goals and resonates with the target audience.

4. Engagement Metrics Audit
We analyze engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, X-reposts, and other interactions. We assess the level of audience engagement and identify successful and underperforming content.

5. Promotions Audit
We analyze the content promotions the brand is running to ensure they are aligned with the manufacturer’s goals.

6. Editorial Calendar Audit
We review and evaluate the existing content schedule and plans outlined in the editorial calendar for social media marketing to ensure corporate objectives are being met over a longer time horizon.

7. Hashtag Usage Audit
We review the use of hashtags across platforms. We assess the effectiveness of branded, domain and product related hashtags and occasionally identify opportunities for new ones.

8. Brand Consistency Audit
We ensure a consistent brand identity is applied across all platforms. We check if branding elements such as logos, colors, and brand promise and position are used uniformly.

9. Metrics & KPIs Audit
We evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) that are aligned with the manufacturer’s goals. This may include metrics such as reach, impressions, engagement rates, and conversion rates.

10. Competitor Benchmarks Audit
We compare the manufacturer’s social media followers and volume metrics with that of key competitors. We identify areas where the brand excels and areas where it can improve based on peer benchmarks.

11. Followers Audit
We analyze the demographic information of the audience on each platform, including age, gender, location, and other relevant details. We examine the growth, decline and rate of growth/decline in followers/fans on each platform. We evaluate the demographics and interests of the audience to guide tailoring of future content and engagement strategies.

12. Sentiment Audit
This is included by special request only. We evaluate and analyze the sentiments expressed by the audience toward the manufacturer and its product offerings on various social media platforms. The goal is to gauge the overall sentiment—whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral—associated with the manufacturer’s products and services.

What’s typically excluded is evaluation of the performance of paid social advertising campaigns, including ad spend, reach, click-through rates, conversions, and ROI.

A social media audit provides valuable insights that can improve the effectiveness of a manufacturer’s social media strategy. It is typically conducted every few years to adapt to changes in the social media landscape and the corporate goals.

If you are seeking a manufacturing marketing agency partner who can complete your social media audit, contact us.

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Elliance, a higher education enrollment marketing agency, has built a reputation by both increasing and significantly growing undergraduate student enrollment for more than 50 colleges and universities. Founded on the principle of right-fit matchmaking, our recommended strategies revolve around five core beliefs. First, if they can’t find you, they can’t buy you. Second, if they do find you, you can’t bore them into buying from you. Third, the students must be able to see themselves at your institution. Fourth, you must pursue right-fit students at all cost. Fifth, you must be easy to do business with. All our recommended actions for increasing undergraduate enrollment revolve around these core beliefs:

1. Invest in Branding: Babson has positioned itself as THE college for entrepreneurship, American University as THE supplier of “wonks” to the political and governmental establishment, Drexel as THE university that mandates coop experience, and so on. Investing in a strong brand can lift a college from obscurity to national prominence. Brand your college.

2. Make the First Impressions Count: Fortify every touch point – including websites, social media, open houses, information sessions, grounds, classrooms, tours, and admissions office décor. Claim your Google page one rankings and elevate your search engine snippets. Make your facilities and grounds beautiful because beauty engenders confidence.

3. Define a Distinctive Hook: Become a niche college. Declare a hook like: offering a graduate-in-four-years guarantee (e.g. Randolph-Macon College), a job placement guarantee (e.g. Capitol Technology University) or a tuition lock (e.g. Assumption College). Parents and students are attracted to colleges willing to stand behind their commitments.

4. Sharpen Your Academic Offerings: If you are a niche college, offer an inch-wide, mile-deep portfolio of programs. If you are a broad based educator, offer a large variety of majors and minors.

5. Create an Optimal Website Presence: Make it beautiful. Invest in high-fidelity academic program pages. Make it alumni success centered. Make it outcomes centric. Make it conversion friendly. Make it search engine friendly. Make it responsive. Make it accessible. Feature institutional reputation points. Showcase groups of students in social settings. Celebrate campus life.

6. Lower Admissions Barriers: Offer competitive scholarships and financial aid. Offer early decision and early admissions programs. Offer job guarantees for job placement. Offer 4-year graduation guarantees.

7. Activate an Effective Marketing Air Game: Understand target audiences. Create psychographic and demographic personas. Fortify academic program pages. Deploy smart paid and SEO strategies. Conduct email marketing. Activate traditional media and PR. Deploy both traditional admissions funnel and inverted admissions funnel strategies.

8. Communicate with Influencers: Because students are heavily influenced by their peers, parents, teachers, college counselors in high schools, and principals. Ensure you proactively communicate with influencers. 

9. Mobilize a Strong Boots-on-the-Ground Game Plan: Foster relationships with high schools. Encourage campus visits. Provide virtual tours. Attend industry conferences and events where prospects might be competing in competitions.

10. Create Feeders: Offer summer camps and pre-college programs.  Cultivate relationships with attendees and their families.

11. Follow-up on a Timely Basis: Activate a personalized contact strategy system by a partially automated comm-plan.

12. Respond to Trends: Adapt and refine your strategies based on the evolving landscape of education and the preferences of your target audience.

If you are seeking an enrollment marketing agency for increasing and growing your undergraduate enrollment, consider partnering with us.

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