Ideas, insights and inspirations.

If done right, SEO will literally outlive your website. On the internet, we don’t often think of our media as having any intrinsic permanent value. News headlines are expired within minutes; tweets are gone in a flash. Blogs squabble and compete for our momentary attention before disappearing again into obscurity. Even websites rarely stand the test of time: In a survey of over 160 companies, more than one third said they had redesigned their website within the last three months. In recent years, marketers have played along. They’ve taken to social media and “#hashtag” campaigns, with performance measured in durations of days or hours. They’ve pushed press releases onto the digital wires, to watch traffic spike for a day or two at best. An occasional campaign may outlast expectations — a viral video might last a few weeks before falling out of fashion — but then it’s back to the drawing board for another short-lived campaign push. Search engine optimization … Continue reading

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To higher education marketing pros, April & May is “yield season.” It’s the culmination of all their marketing and relationship-building efforts to convert a suspect to a prospect to an applicant to an admitted student. Yield is the percentage of admitted students who actually decide to enroll. This is a big deal in enrollment marketing – having knowledge of where the yield percentage might fall provides a target of how many students the admissions office needs to, or is willing to, accept. Tracking the tuition deposits as they begin to trickle in is a daily process for admissions, and is why the final piece of marketing communications – the admissions yield piece – is so important. Over the years I have seen all kinds of yield tactics from fact sheets to multi-page brochures. They all seem compelled to give the prospect ‘one more reason’ to consider their school. (As if two years of curated courtship through the admission process has … Continue reading

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As Responsive Design has matured to a position of dominance in the web design and development world, so have our heads been filled with anecdotal evidence (i.e., non-evidence) about the ROI of Responsive Web Design. (Just for fun, I propose call this ROIRWD and, furthermore, that we agree henceforth to pronounce it “roy-ward”.) Now, of course the lack of empirical evidence for a thing’s existence doesn’t mean the thing doesn’t exist, and anecdotal data isn’t without its value. But it sure is helpful, when articulating the business case for a new and often more expensive approach, to have some proof that said approach is worth the cost. So I was delighted when, on Monday, developer luminary, respected author, and Polar co-founder Luke Wroblewski posted the tiny grenade below to his blog. It’s a tiny data set, but it contains some astonishing numbers. (Skinny Ties: 377.6% revenue growth on iPhone? Like a boss, as my kids say.) So I’m reposting the … Continue reading

We know that colleges and universities today are scrambling to adjust to shifting demographics, shrinking budgets, skyrocketing pressure, and other changes on all fronts. We expect (rightly) that college presidents will be educators, diplomats, fundraisers and visionaries. Too often, organizing and managing personnel slips a little bit farther down the list. Too often, today’s presidents use outdated models of organizational management, where huge amounts responsibility fall to academic with little experience or training in the areas they oversee. Also troubling: many models overlook the most important part of any organization, the people. You may find the chief HR professional buried under a CFO or (even more frightening) under a Provost. We all think we could do better, right? I’ve certainly got some ideas of my own, and I bet you do as well.  If I was president, here’s who would be sitting at my senior staff table, and why. VP of Academic Affairs or Provost At its very foundation, a … Continue reading

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This morning I was reading a post on the Travel 2.0 Blog that hit home. Troy Thompson wrote: “Recently, I was asked to critique changes to an advertising campaign from a well-known tourism destination. While the creative was fine…amazingly not touting anything and everything…the call to action seemed, cluttered. Perhaps that was because it featured not only the traditional website address and phone number, but also icons for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, a blog (disguised as an RSS icon that few will understand) plus a QR code.” Seven calls to action in one print piece! Thompson points out that watering down a strong call to action with six “extras” doesn’t provide more choice, it muddies the water for the user and scrambles your metrics. This lesson isn’t just for print. On websites, there’s a tendency to offer everything to everyone at all times. Take the typical higher education website, for example. There’s usually semi-permanent placement of calls to action for applying, … Continue reading

At Elliance, we are extremely proud of the work we do on behalf of our search clients on a daily basis.  We help improve their rankings, visibility, and brand awareness through a customized variety of search marketing services.  But, it’s sometimes very difficult to value that visibility we’re providing, both for our clients and for our own internal marketing efforts. Even at its most basic level, valuation of search has been lacking.  Most conversion reports of the past attributed new prospects or customers to either the first or last touch point.  However, we’ve learned over the years that as searchers progress through the decision funnel, they tend to move from more general, non-branded terms like “digital marketing agency” to branded phrases like “Elliance Pittsburgh.”  It’s unlikely someone would search on a very general term, navigate to our website, and immediately convert.  Similarly, we’ve seen that once a brand or website is found in search results and becomes a part of … Continue reading

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It’s the age-old question: if you’re ranked organically for a particular search term, is targeting that same term with PPC a waste of money? New research from Google suggests that it’s not. The original study that Google released back in 2011 was a bit shocking.  Within real advertiser accounts, Google observed that when PPC ads were paused for certain search terms, only 15% of those PPC clicks were recovered by the advertiser’s organic listing. 85% of those PPC clicks were lost. That’s a significant observation. However, Google didn’t account for organic rankings in this study, which left the door open for plenty of skepticism about the numbers.  Naturally, if an advertiser were bidding on a search term for which it isn’t ranked organically, it would be impossible to make up for the clicks lost through PPC with organic results. Recently, though, Google released an update.  Their team re-analyzed a subset of results, which included data for search queries where both … Continue reading

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Interestingly, senior decision makers look at eMarketing ROI based on their roles. CEOs tend to focus on downstream metrics such as aggregate ROI i.e. if we invested $x into an eMarketing program, what revenue, $y, did we get from it. How many fold is $y of $x. On the other hand, Marketing Directors tend to focus on upstream metrics comprising of details like visitors, cost-per-click, cost-per-acquisition, etc. As eMarketing service providers, we measure both upstream and downstream metrics. We measure upstream metrics for diagnosing problems and upstream metrics for justifying our services.

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