• 0 Email Marketing Tactics That Work

    by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner / March 7, 2024Wondering if your email marketing needs an upgrade? Curious what works in 2024?In this article, we’ll explore the latest email marketing best practices based on 6 billion emails sent annually.Why Should Marketers Focus on Email Marketing?Email marketing is far from dead. While one of the oldest digital marketing channels, it continues to evolve and provides unmatched opportunities for marketers to reach their audiences cost-effectively. Jay Schwedelson, president and CEO of demand generation agency Outcome Media and host of the Do This, NOT That podcast, shares his insights on email marketing best practices in 2024, common myths, and key trends.    Debunking Outdated Email Marketing Myths: Trigger Words, Open Rates, and the Promotions TabA major challenge for email marketers is the proliferation of misinformation and outdated “best practices” online. Jay stresses the need to move past blanket rules around spam trigger words, emojis, capitalization, and other elements that supposedly hurt deliverability.Inbox placement today depends primarily on engagement metrics—how often people open, click, and respond to your email—not specific content elements. Higher open and click-through rates signal to major email providers, like Gmail, that subscribers find value in the emails. Several perceived “spammy” tactics can actually lift engagement, like using the word “Free,” emojis, exclamation points, and question marks in subject lines.“The very things that you’re avoiding… are the things, ironically, that generate the highest engagement, ”Jay notes. “You're avoiding the things that can make you a success.” Rather than worry about arbitrary lists of prohibited words, marketers should test different subject lines and content variations and pay attention to performance data.Another myth has to do with open rates. Many marketers claim email open rates are meaningless today. They argue factors like Apple's iOS and bots inflate the rates, so the metrics aren't reliable. However, while open rates are no longer absolute, they still have value as directional metrics.For example, suppose you test an email with an emoji in the subject line against one without, and the one with the emoji has a 35% open rate versus only 25% for the plain subject line version. In that case, it suggests the emoji boosted engagement. The rates don't precisely reflect the percentage of people opening the emails. But the 10 percentage point difference indicates which version performed better.Open rates are like survey results—not definitive, but valuable to compare the directional impact of different marketing tactics. So, while open rate alone doesn't equal engagement, combined with other metrics like click-through and conversion rates, it remains one of the most valuable metrics for optimizing your email marketing strategy. Additionally, many marketers worry that landing their offer emails in Gmail's Promotions tab hurts results. But Jay says that perception is wrong. The Promotions tab is actually part of the inbox, not the junk folder, and landing there can boost performance.Only 15–20% of Gmail users even enable tabbed inbox categories; of those who do, around 50% check the Promotions tab daily. When people visit the Promotions tab, they're at the mall—actively shopping, deliberately looking for deals and offers.So, getting your email into the Promotions tab puts your message right in front of an engaged audience ready to buy. Open and click-through rates can be 50% higher compared to the primary inbox.Also, it's difficult for users to unsubscribe or remove your emails from the Promotions tab. So, landing there helps ensure your messages reach that important segment of deal-seeking subscribers.#1: Optimize Your Subject LinesSubject lines are critical—they decide whether someone opens your email. Yet most marketers spend minimal time crafting them. They obsess over campaign creative and copy, get legal approval, and only then dash off a subject line as an afterthought.This is backwards, Jay says. No matter how great your email marketing content is, nobody sees it if the subject line doesn't get opened.Most marketers overlook this key insight: people don't read your entire subject line. When scanning their inbox, they read just the first few characters. So, those opening 2–5 words can radically impact your email marketing performance.Jay reveals several easy-to-implement tips to optimize your subject lines:•    Start with a number for a sense of authority and skimmability. This will lift your open rates by 20%, Jay says. For example, “7 Pitfalls to Avoid for Small Business Owners or “The 3 Hottest Fashion Trends.”•    Add relevant emojis to stand out in the inbox. This is especially useful for business-to-business marketers. Jay says emojis can be viewed properly by 95% of all receiving email networks. When testing an emoji in subject lines, he sees a 25% lift in open rates. •    Use all-caps for the first word to grab attention, like “NEW: Spring Fashion Guide.” Title casing works, too—capitalize the first letter of each word in the subject line.•    Put key ideas in brackets for emphasis, like “[Flash Sale] Shoes and Accessories.”It’s important to ask yourself, “Am I doing something in that subject line that will allow me to stand out a little bit?” Jay says you have to do something to be a little different, and that’s how you win. Beyond formatting, personalization again lifts performance. Call-to-action buttons increase click-through rates by over 20% when adopting first-person language—“Get my discount” rather than “Buy now” or “Save my spot” rather than “Register here.” This phrasing emphasizes user benefits over sender needs.  Jay founded the website SubjectLine, which analyzes and optimizes email subject lines for free. You simply input your proposed subject line. Leveraging customer data from the 6 billion emails sent annually, SubjectLine then provides a score showing how strong or weak your subject line is. It will even rewrite your subject line to boost open rates.  Key Drivers of Email Performance: Personalization, Urgency, and FOMO Jay points to personalization, urgency, and FOMO (fear of missing out) as critical ingredients across high-performing email campaigns.  Many marketers believe personalization just means including someone's first name in an email or subject line. Like, “Hey Tom, check this out!” But that basic tactic no longer moves the needle. Real personalization means quickly conveying relevancy—why this message matters specifically to your target audience.Today’s subject lines personalized around interests see much higher engagement. Imagine a line like “New hiking packs for your next adventure.” It signals upfront that the content connects to a specific interest or attribute. This builds curiosity and relevance, driving more opens. Segmenting campaigns using “For [interest]” subject lines like “For DIYers,” “For Golf Enthusiasts,” or “For CFOs” allows for finer targeting. Personalization requires understanding your customers and what makes them tick. Life event triggers also resonate with readers, such as “Just for new parents” or “Just for new homeowners.”Driving urgency through tight deadlines, discounts, and scarcity also helps prompt action. Phrases like “Almost gone” and “Only 322 left in stock” can dramatically lift open and conversion rates by stoking FOMO. Ongoing offers without hard ends can still encourage urgency through emphatic calls to action like “Hurry—Don't miss out!”Jay considers urgency and FOMO the two things you should always consider in your email marketing campaigns. Combined, they consistently spike conversions.Promotional Emails The most powerful word for email marketing subject lines and promotions is “most,” Jay says. We all share a herd mentality, seeking “the best” of whatever is popular. When deciding among options, people rely heavily on signals of what others view as top quality.Calling out your most popular, best-reviewed, most downloaded product taps into that social proof. For example, compare subject lines like: “Pizza deals this weekend” versus “Our most 5-star reviewed pizzas—try one today!” The latter builds urgency and relevance even without listing the actual offer details. It tells people this is your hottest, highest quality option that others confirm is amazing. FOMO kicks in. You don't need huge discounts or fancy gems to boost opens. Simply identifying your absolute best seller—whether that's 3 or 30 products—helps subscribers feel confident choosing your email. Split Testing Emails When A/B testing your email marketing efforts, many marketers send the new version to a small sample for an hour, then roll it out broadly if it performs well. However, Jay prefers judging based on statistical relevance over a longer period.Send your test to a large enough segment where you can trust the results—usually at least 50,000 subscribers evenly split between A and B. And importantly, make your variants radically different—don't test tiny incremental tweaks. You want crystal-clear data on what ideas resonate.Also, avoid testing on niche subgroups like your 10% most loyal segment. If a concept works there but has no room to scale, the test wastes effort. Define your sample size based on having a broader pool that can fully deploy the winning message if the test succeeds.Test big enough splits to strengthen data, differentiate your variants substantially, and ensure you can expand upon any victories with the broader audience.#2: Optimize Cadence and Send Time With many marketers blasting the same static emails to their lists, Jay stresses the value of changing formats and layouts. Radically departing from your template for every third email can lift open rates by creating anticipation and curiosity among your readers. For example, it could be a letter format from your CEO saying, “Hey, here’s a new special discount for you,” or it could be as simple as changing out the images you use. Many marketers might fear mixing it up, trusting their proven methods. Jay advises experimenting with or testing emails when changing formats to see what converts. Rethinking UnsubscribesMany marketers view unsubscribes as failures. But counterintuitively, more unsubscribes can indicate improved email marketing performance. There are two common reasons people unsubscribe:•    General inbox overload—they mass clean out subscriptions.•    Your email finally broke through the clutter and got their attention. But upon re-engaging, they realize they're no longer interested in your content.Scenario two means your emails went from being wallpaper to getting noticed. Even if readers ultimately unsubscribe, your changes, like new subject line formats, work. You drove visibility and reassessment where before your emails went ignored. So, increased unsubscribes and better open and click rates suggest you've refreshed your approach. Don't let the one bad metric scare you away when the holistic picture is positive. Jay emphasizes never letting a nasty complaint email derail your strategy, either. That's one unhappy person ruining things for everyone else. Marketers must not let the loudest, negative voice in the room steer their helpful content.Email Send Days and TimesWhen determining the best days and times to send emails, Jay says to avoid relying on generic “best practice” advice. Every audience is different. Instead, benchmark your own list's performance.First, break your data down by email type—announcements, newsletters, promotions, etc. Then, track each category's open, click-through, and conversion rates across multiple days/times. Different segments react differently. For example, older audiences, such as boomers, tend to read emails earlier, while younger demographics, such as Generation Z, skew towards afternoons and evenings. Promotional emails see lower early morning opens versus informational newsletters.The critical insight is that while absolute metric comparisons may look worse for non-peak days/times, you're actually reaching a completely different swath of subscribers. It's additive visibility.So, regularly test sending across multiple days and segments. Any email time that produces fewer opens than your “best” may still be valuable in engaging previously silent subscribers. Optimize based on your list's unique makeup, not generic principles. Reaching more people across more days drives more revenue, even if some sends seem suboptimal based on superficial open-rate reviews.For global email lists, the best practice is sending based on the recipient's local time zone. This allows you to align delivery with when each contact will most likely check email. Jay says you should also be using Send Time Optimization. Leading email marketing platforms offer this feature, which learns each subscriber's email engagement patterns. It identifies the optimal time to deliver your messages to each inbox based on their unique habits. It considers the days they open the email, the time of day, and how frequently.This optimization is an incredibly powerful way to boost email effectiveness, especially for global audiences.

  • 0 3 Quick & Simple Holiday Online Marketing Tips to Boost Sales Now

    The holiday shopping season is upon us.  You have spent months planning your inventory, hiring employees for the shopping season, working out your shipping policy for online orders, and stocking your shelfs.  The next step is selling your product.  You ran out of time or maybe you are short on funds to put a lot of money into marketing.  Good News!  There are 3 simple quick and inexpensive things you can do to move your products this holiday season. Boosted Posts or Social Media Ads You can boost a social media post or ad on Facebook for as little as $5/day.  You may be thinking how much can I sell for $5/day?  More than you think.  The trick is to target where your posts or ads are displayed.  When you select to boost a post or create an ad you need to edit your audience demographics.  This will help you focus on displaying your ad to people who are most likely to purchase from you.  Let us assume you have a women’s boutique, and you have a gorgeous hat/scarf/glove set you want sell.  You would set your target audience to women ages 18-65, located in cold, snowy states such as PA, OH, NY, NJ, DE, MA, ME, NH, MD.  There is no point in having your ad displayed to men who will not wear your item, or to folks in FL, GA, AL, etc. where they rarely, if ever, experience cold weather.  You can be even more focused based on potential income.  Let’s say this is an expensive set made of cashmere, then you would narrow your age range to working women who are more likely able to afford such an item so you may adjust your age range to 35-65.  You can also target your audience based upon interests or job titles. Targeting your audience allows you to spend your limited funds more wisely with better results Boosted post or ads will be running within 24 hours. Email campaigns Say it with me now, “Email campaigns are not our enemy, they are our friend.” Since social media has become so popular there is a common misconception that email marketing is outdated and useless.  The truth is email marketing campaigns can have a return of $36 for every $1 spent. Sending emails to your loyal customers is the quickest way to get them in the door or to order online.  I have clients that I send out emails for on a weekly basis and I see orders coming in within 30 mins of sending out the campaign.  Customers who sign up to receive your emails are telling you “I like your product.  I like your store.  Keep me updated so I can order more in the future.”  That is valuable. If you have an email list there are many email marketing providers that offer free plans you can access to start sending out your emails today. Retargeting or Remarketing Ads Retargeting ads, or Google refers to them as Remarketing ads, are ads people see once they have visited your site to encourage them to revisit and make a purchase.  I’m sure everyone as experienced this, right?  You check out a pair of shoes on a popular retail store site and every where you go you see ads for those pair of shoes. We find them annoying sometimes but the reality is they are effective.  Retargeting stats indicate on average a reduction in cart abandonment by 6.5% and an increase of online sales by 20%.   The good news is you can do it to!  It isn’t that expensive, and they can be running within 24-48 hours.  You can set any budget you want and when you reach that budget Google will stop displaying your ads. The only catch is you will have to have your web designer put a code on your website in order for it to work properly. Happy Sales Wishing all small business owners a productive and profitable holiday season!  If you are able to implement any, or all, of these ideas I would love some feedback at the end of the holiday season.  Please email us at sales@keyconn.net

  • 0 2022 Holiday Marketing Tips

    Business Owners, It’s time to start your holiday check list. Have you written your letter to Santa yet? How about preparing your business for the holidays? We are officially five weeks out from the busiest shopping holiday of the year (And only 65 days away from Christmas. Yikes!). Adobe Analytics forecasts a record $207 billion holiday season online (U.S.), and $910 billion globally.  Here's a short list of ideas of how you can prepare your business so you can get a piece of the billion-dollar pie.  Start Early Surveys have found that consumers start looking for deals as early as the second week of October. Get ahead of the competition by making special offers, promotions, and coupons early. Now is the time to advertise and entice customers. Don’t wait until the week before when consumers are already shopping, and your business becomes an afterthought. “The future started yesterday and we’re already late.” Make Good Use of Social Media Platforms Social media can either be your greatest foe or your most powerful ally. Either way, it is a necessity in 2022. Therefore, it is paramount to keep your social media sites updated and optimized properly. In 2020, purchase rates increased by 42% for e-commerce companies through social media. Don’t miss out on maximizing profits because you didn’t utilize your social media pages to their full potential. Luckily for you, if you’re not all that tech savvy, there’s a company that can assist you with your social media marketing at a competitive price. *Cough* Keystone Connect. *Cough* Apply Promotions and Discounts That Make Sense During a time when every move counts, make sure that yours are calculated. As long as it is still reasonable for your business, the bigger the discount the better. You want to stay competitive. Consumers are looking for an average of 20% off or more for the holiday. Look at your inventory and see what’s manageable. Don’t be afraid to get creative as well. Promotions for first-time buyers or a larger discount for purchasing several items are often home runs with customers during this time. Test the waters and you may find a tactic that helps you for years to come. Check out 8 Holiday Promotions to Help You Sell More  for holiday promotions and tips to help you this holiday season. Utilize Email Marketing Campaigns A fairly simple and cheap tactic to garner more customers this holiday season is an email marketing campaign. Custora reports that over 25% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales begin with email marketing. Email allows you to connect with your loyal customers, as well as easily reach new ones. You will want to make sure, once again, to start your email campaigns early, as to give your loyal and new customers time to plan their holiday shopping. It’s also essential to make sure that the headlines for these emails are not bland. Give the consumer no choice but to open the email due to an intriguing headline. Otherwise, they will end up being ignored or deleted. Check Your Site Speed Unfortunately, digital marketing is both a sprint and a marathon so there’s not a lot of room for error. A slow website will often turn customers off. In fact, 46% of shoppers said they will never return to a website if it is slow. The ideal loading time for eCommerce websites is zero to four seconds. A quick loading site has a 12% to 30% conversion rate. Slower than 4 seconds and users begin to abandon their purchases. Transactions decrease by 1% each second added to that. You can test your website’s loading speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights so you can know for sure if it’s running optimally. When nearly every business is running promotions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you don’t want to give the consumers a chance to look elsewhere. Now that you have some tools in your business toolbelt you need to … HURRY.  RUN. DON’T WALK. Put those tools to good use as soon as possible to get a jump on the competition this season.  It’s going to be a rough race.  Godspeed, soldier.

  • 0 What to Know About Google Trends

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock (don’t worry, this is a safe space), you have probably heard of Google Trends if you exist in the business world. But what exactly is it? Google Trends is a tool created by Google that analyzes the popularity of top search queries across various regions and languages. It depicts this information by using graphs to compare the search volume of different queries over time. So, for all of you visual data analytic fiends out there, your time has come! BUT don’t go anywhere just yet though. As they say, you’ve gotta milk the cow before you can make the butter…or something like that. So, what’s the skinny on Google Trends? Now you know what Trends is but why should you use it? Well, we are all living in a technical world and we are all just a bunch of techie guys and girls. In a time where irrelevancy means death, maybe not physically, but financially, you have to stay on the up-and-up in order to avoid falling by the digital wayside (R.I.P Myspace), and Trends can help you with just that. Start by navigating to the “Trending Searches” tab, where you can find a list of trending topics for that time. Utilizing this function can help with creating relevant content in a big way. By creating relevant content, your work has a better chance to attract more eyes. It even has related queries, giving you multiple options as you brainstorm. Instead of just scraping the barrel again, allow Trends to bridge the gap to your next smash hit. Google Trends can also show you seasonal shopping patterns by consumers, so you know when the best time is to market your products (make sure to not mix up Pi and Pie Day). You can also use keywords to find the best locations to advertise as well, giving yourself the best chance to increase your reach and revenue. For example, let’s say you sell hammocks. If you search the word “hammocks” in Google Trends, you’ll find that interest peaked for that topic during May 22-28th of this year. Furthermore, the residents of Delaware have searched the keyword “hammock” more than any other state. Now, having that knowledge, you can really ramp up your advertising around that time, in that geographical location, to capitalize on the consumer desires. In conjunction with a sales promotion at that time you are putting yourself in a better position to increase your revenues. When you’re done figuring out your next successful marketing plan, you can then focus on how your brand specifically measures up to your competitors. By using the comparison tool, you can monitor the difference in traffic and see where you can improve. The data will depict the contrast in searches by time, allowing you to devise a plan to attract those consumers at those times instead. It’s time to show the competition who the real deal is. For those of you that already have some skin in the YouTube game, Google Trends can help you to improve your strategy by finding out what channels are currently popular and what people are searching for. You can further boost your videos popularity if you have an email list and utilize that during the high traffic periods. Google will even see that you’re promoting your older video content and potentially reward you with a higher position so that your video can get even more views. Oh, and maybe throw in some cute animal content. That always sells. Or at least I think so. Now that you have a better understanding of Google Trends, it’s time to let you go back out into the great wide web to really hit those analytics. I hate that we have say goodbye so soon, but I hope that you took something beneficial from this blog and can use it. Thank you, all! Happy crunching, friends!

  • 0 Can You Still Grow Your Business During COVID-19 Shutdown?

    Yes, you can! There are several actions you can take to manage, improve, and grow your business from home during the COVID-19 business shut down. During the current COVID-19 outbreak, many businesses are closed and/or not able to perform their daily operations as normal. This obviously makes it quite difficult for small businesses to continue doing business as usual. However, this could be a good opportunity for businesses to focus on important areas of their business that may be neglected when operations are in full swing. Generally, small businesses have too much work and not enough time or personnel to accomplish everything. Taking advantage of this time to make improvements to your business online will surly benefit your business and your customers. Customer Engagement on Social Media Just about everyone is spending more time at home during the current crisis, so what are they doing? They’re getting on the internet. This presents the perfect opportunity for your business to engage your customers on social media. There are various ways to engage your customers through social media. If you are offering online orders or curb-side service, you can offer a sales promo.  You can run a contest asking for your customers to post a picture or video of themselves engaged with your product and offer an incentive for doing so. Posting consistent updates to social media and replying to each comment establishes your brand personality and makes it easier for customers to make a connection with your brand. In the fast-food industry, Wendy’s does an excellent job of creating a fun and playful personality by making witty comments and jabs at other fast-food restaurants. If you have a service based business and unable to operate at this time, such as interior designing, hair salon, photography, etc., social media can still prove to be a valuable tool during this time to engage with your customers.  You can post instructional, or how-to, videos on quick room decorating ideas, maintaining your hair coloring, utilizing natural lighting for photos, etc.  These types of videos can be very beneficial for potential customers and could make them more inclined to choose your brand in the future.  Eventually, you will be able to continue your business as usual. Interacting with customers during this down time will build a relationship with them and keep your business at top-of-mind for when your services are available once again. Update your Website Small businesses often create their website and don’t make regular changes or updates because they simply don’t have the time. Now is the perfect opportunity to update your website and improve your users’ experience. This is especially important since most purchases and interactions with your business are done online. You should ensure that the navigation of your website is user-friendly and it’s easy for customers to find what they are looking for. It’s also a good idea to consider new design features. Website design trends are constantly changing, and outdated designs are unappealing to customers. Update your website design to appeal to the current trends and your customers will have a better experience on your site. Take a gander at our Above the Fold blog to learn more about current web design trends. Improve your SEO While you’re updating your website, you should keep search engine optimization in mind. Optimizing your website for search engines will improve your website’s visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find your products and services. To optimize your site there are several things to consider. Popular keywords can change frequently based on what people are searching for on search engines. Updating the keywords in your page titles and in the content of your pages will allow your website to appear more frequently in search engine results. Updating the meta descriptions on your website pages is also a good idea. This is the description that will appear on a search engine results page (SERP) and gives the viewer an idea of what your page is about. Google only allows a certain amount of space, based on pixels, to show a description. Since the amount of space is measured in pixels, it is difficult to determine exactly how many characters Google will show (some characters take up more pixels than others). This means that to ensure your most important information and keywords are visible to your viewers, they should be written in the beginning of your descriptions. Learn more about optimizing your SEO with Instagram and Google My Business. BONUS:  Free SEO Report Learn from your Customers Learning from your customers is another great way to improve your business and customer service. Customer reviews are the best means of learning from your customers. If you haven’t had the time to look at your business’s customer reviews, now is the time to do so. From reviews, you can learn what your business has been doing well and where you could make improvements. Customer service is very important for small businesses, because generally they see a much smaller customer base than large corporations and depend on returning customers. Looking at your reviews, you may notice a common problem that many of your customers are experiencing. If the problem can be fixed, your customers will be more satisfied with your business and more likely to make a purchase. Even if the problem isn’t fixed immediately or can’t be fixed it’s best to respond to all reviews to show other potential customers reading the reviews that you are making an attempt to improve and satisfy your customers. Learn more about increasing your website’s visibility with customer reviews. Explore New Tools There are numerous free tools available that can help improve your business. The problem with many of these tools, however, is that there is a bit of a learning curve to use them effectively. Many of these tools are ignored because business owners don’t have the time to learn them. Social media is one tool that all businesses should know and understand. There are various channels of social media to choose from, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Your business may already have a Facebook page but nothing else. You now have the opportunity to explore and expand to new social media channels and increase your reach to a new audience. Many social media channels also offer paid advertising for businesses. This feature is also often overlooked by small businesses that are short on time but could be worthwhile to explore the possibilities and opportunities of social media marketing. There are also various free analytics tools that can help you improve your website SEO and digital marketing strategy. Google Analytics is a free tool for businesses and provides helpful data about your website traffic, target audiences and can even be used to monitor ad campaigns. Getting to know and understand these analytics will help you make improvements to your website for usability, target specific audiences more effectively, and get the most out of your ad campaigns. Visit our Free Tools blog for more free tools that can help you improve your website. Conclusion Although this time of business closures and social distancing is challenging, it can be a great opportunity for small businesses to improve and update their operations. Eventually, everything will return to normal, but for now, it is best to make as many improvements to your business as possible and connect with your customers.

  • 0 Above the Fold is Important to Your Website

    “Above the fold” is a term that often refers to the top of a newspaper and is generally the most interesting or exciting topic in the entire paper. This is designed to attract the reader’s attention and get them to purchase the newspaper. Due to the advancement of technology, this term has evolved and now applies to website design. The above the fold section of your website is the section that a viewer will see immediately upon viewing your site before they begin to scroll down. Just like the front-page article of a newspaper, the above the fold section of your website should be interesting enough to attract the attention of your viewers. Importance of the Fold The above the fold section of your website is one of the most important sections on your website. This will be the first thing anyone who visits your site will see, so it should be attractive and provide a positive first impression for your viewers. For B2B businesses, this section is a great place for a call to action. Businesses with a call to action above the fold generally generate more leads and tend to have higher conversion rates than businesses that do not. Where is the Fold? The section above the fold is impossible to measure exactly. The size of this section varies depending on the size of the screen and the device the viewer is using to view the site. In a best-case scenario with an average desktop screen size, the section is approximately 1,000 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall. This would mean that the window is maximized and there are no toolbars installed that would push the content downward. Using certain analytics, such as Google Analytics, you will be able to see which devices many of your viewers are using to access your site and adjust your design accordingly. Mobile Considerations The majority of today’s online traffic comes from mobile devices. This must be taken into consideration when designing any aspect of a website but is especially important for the above the fold section. Since this is what your viewers will see immediately upon loading your site, it is a major deciding factor for the viewer to continue viewing or to leave your site. Most mobile viewers use their mobile device in portrait mode rather than landscape mode to search the internet. This means that your webpage will be turned sideways in order to fit to the screen. This could cause many different problems in your website content if it is not properly designed. This could contribute to a high bounce rate if many of your viewers are attempting to view your site on mobile and the content of your page above the fold does not appear properly. Designing Above the Fold Content When designing your above the fold content there are several considerations that you should account for. Many viewers make the decision to continue or leave a site within seconds, so they should be able to get a general idea of what your business is and what products/services you have to offer almost immediately. First, you should be sure to include a company logo so your viewers immediately see a recognizable logo and can easily determine that they have reached the correct site. This will also reinforce your brand image. Along with your company logo, there should also be a navigation menu that makes it easy for your viewers to find what they are looking for on your website. Another very important consideration is an image. The image above the fold will be one of the first things that catches a viewer’s eye, so it should be attractive enough to keep the viewer’s attention. You should also include an effective headline and some content that encourages the viewer to continue to view your website. A call to action could also be included above the fold and could potentially increase your lead generation. Lastly, your above the fold design should be unique. It is a good practice to look at competitors’ web design to differentiate yourself and make your website stand out. Testing Your Design Testing of your design can be done through A/B testing. A/B testing is a comparison between two different versions of the same page. In this case, you would be comparing two different versions of your above the fold content. The changes you make could be as simple as rewording a header or changing your main image, or they could be a complete redesign of the page. Once both designs are completed it is time to test them. Design A will serve as the control and Design B is the variance. Using a tool such as Google Analytics, monitor data such as bounce rate and session duration for a set period and then switch to Design B for the same period. Then, compare the results from the analytics to determine which design had more success. Conclusion Your above the fold content can be make-or-break for your website. If your content above the fold does not attract enough attention within the first few seconds of viewing, it is likely that the rest of your site won’t be viewed at all. Always be sure to keep mobile devices in mind while designing your above the fold content (as well as the rest of your website). Once you have a design for your above the fold content, be sure to refine it with A/B testing for the best possible results.

  • 0 Free Tools to Improve SEO

      Search engine optimization can seem like a daunting task.  There are many components of SEO that factor into your ranking on search engines.  The challenge is to figure out how to find your website SEO and ranking information.  Thankfully there are many free tools available that provide analytics, reports, charts, and information about your website.  There are many free tools available, but these are our personal picks to help you better understand your SEO and track your rankings. Google Analytics Google Analytics is a great tool to provide you with valuable information about your website. From the homepage of Google Analytics, you will be able to monitor the number of users on your site, your website’s bounce rate and the average session duration on your site. Under the Audience tab, Google Analytics shows a more in-depth view of who is viewing your site. Here you will see what pages of your website your viewers are looking at. You can also find what devices your viewers are using to access your website (desktop, tablet, or mobile). If you have a high bounce rate and many of your viewers are attempting to access your website via mobile devices, it could mean that your website is not mobile-friendly, and it is difficult for mobile users to navigate your site. Google Analytics also shows the location of all your viewers, so you will be able to see where all of your potential customers are. This is valuable information for a local and expanding businesses to ensure that they their target audience is responding to any marketing efforts. In the Acquisitions tab of Google Analytics, you will be able to find information about where your website traffic is coming from. Website traffic comes from one of four sources: direct (from URL), organic (from search engines), referral (from external link), or social (from social media). With Google Analytics you can see how your viewers are finding your website. Google Trends Google Trends is another free Google tool that helps you choose the best keywords to use on your website. Google Trends allows you to compare up to five different terms to see which terms are the most popular. For example, if your business sells t-shirts you could use Google Trends to compare the terms “t-shirt”, “tshirt”, “shirt”. You will find that the term “shirts” receives many more searches than “tshirt” or “t-shirt”. This is helpful when selecting which keywords to use on your website to attract more traffic. Search Console Search Console is yet another free tool from Google. This tool will provide you with more information about your website traffic. This tool will provide you with the total clicks and total impressions that your website has had over a given time. The Queries tab on Search Console shows what searchers have typed into search engines to find your business, how many times your business has appeared in the results and how many times your link has been clicked. Search Console also shows this data by country, by device, by date, and for individual pages on your website. SEM Rush SEM Rush offers a free site audit that can be used to determine the health of your website. The site audit will provide you with errors, warnings and notices about your site. These reports will show you any errors on your page and help you to fix them. For each error, SEM Rush provides a “why and how to fix” button. This will explain why the error is occurring and what you should do to solve the problem. Screaming Frog Screaming Frog is a website spider that crawls websites and pulls information such as title tags, header tags, meta descriptions, and much more. The free version of Screaming Frog allows you to crawl up to 500 pages on a website. This tool works well when used along with the SEM Rush site audit. You will be able to find errors on your page from the SEM Rush site audit and verify these errors with Screaming Frog to better understand the issues. Screaming Frog also gives the option to display a search engine snippet. This is what your link will look like when it appears on a Google search. It is useful to see how much of your title and description will be visible on Google. If your description is too long and your important information does not appear until the end of your description, a viewer may not be able to see it when they search for your business. Moz Moz is a useful tool that provides information on your website’s SEO ranking. With a free account, Moz provides your domain authority and page authority. Domain authority ranked on a 0-100 scale with 100 being the best. The higher your domain authority, the higher your website ranks on search engines. Page authority works the same way, except it is for a specific page on your website. Keep in mind, however, that your domain authority on Moz could differ from your actual Google score. Moz domain authority only considers 40 different factors when calculating your websites domain authority, but Google factors in much more. Moz also displays your top-ranking keywords. These are the keywords that are attracting the most traffic to your site. Conclusion SEO needs to be monitored consistently to be effective.  Keyword rankings and SEO requirements change frequently based on various factors such as trends, your competitor’s SEO initiatives, and search engine algorithm changes.  While these free tools will provide valuable insight and information, some are still limited in the information they provide.  Some businesses may decide to work with an outside company to provide SEO consultation and services due to the lack of resources or personnel.  SEO companies have the resources and knowledge to assist you in reviewing your current SEO and can assist you in developing a plan to achieve your SEO goals for better rankings on search engines. Many businesses find working with an SEO company is worth the investment as better rankings provide more business and more customers.

  • 0 Create a First Impression with Web Design

    Website design is a feature often overlooked by businesses. It is, however, very important in forming a first impression on your customers. Your website will most likely the first interaction a new customer has with your business and will be how they form their first impression of your business. Your web design is what determines if a viewer engages with your site and becomes a potential lead or leaves your site and takes their business elsewhere.   Importance of Web Design Studies show that it takes a viewer just 50 milliseconds to generate a first impression of a web page. Many viewers of your site will use your site’s design as a way to judge your business’s credibility. If your website is poorly designed, difficult to navigate, or out of date a viewer might think twice about the credibility of your business. An effective web design will build trust for your viewers. With a well-designed website that is easy to navigate a viewer will feel confident in the quality of your business and feel more inclined to purchase your product or service. In addition, your web design will influence how your customers perceive your business’s customer service. If a potential customer sees that you haven’t put effort into your website design, they may feel that you won’t put effort into your customer service.   A Good First Impression To create a positive first impression on your viewers it’s important to focus on the “above the fold” section of your webpage. This is the section of your homepage that a viewer will see immediately upon arriving at your website before they start scrolling. This section should contain your company logo so that the viewer knows immediately that they’ve arrived at the right site. This is also a good place for a captivating image to catch your viewers’ attention. The viewer should also be able to get a general idea of what your business offers within the first few seconds of viewing your page. Differentiation is another great way to create a positive first impression. If your website looks very similar to all of your competitors, it may seem dull and boring. Your site should stand out from the competition and be its own unique design.   Build A Solid Web Design There are many components that go in to creating a great web design. The colors of your website are one of the first components of your website that a viewer will notice. Too much white space is boring and unattractive, but too much color is busy and distracting. It’s best to choose a color scheme of 2 or 3 colors that aligns with your brand to use on your website. Your navigation menu will probably be the next component a viewer will notice. Your viewers will be using your navigation menu to find what they are looking for on your site, so it should be straight-forward and easy for them to use. The written content of your page will also be noticed very quickly. Although the content itself is important for search engine optimization and to educate your viewers, the design of your content is important to attract their interest. Try to avoid writing a novel on your webpage. On the other hand, you don’t want to have too little text on your page. It’s important to find a balance in the amount of content you write. Also, be sure that the color of your text is easy to read against the background and that the size of the text is appropriate and isn’t too small for your viewers to read.   Take a gander at these two website designs. Does one look more visually appealing than the other?                     Conclusion Website design is crucial for creating a first impression on your viewers. Viewers will make judgements about your business very quickly based upon the design of your website. Differentiating your website from your competition is a good way to separate yourself from the common rabble. Designing an attractive and functioning website is a must to build trust and credibility for your business.

  • 0 Increase Visibility with Customer Reviews

    You most likely purchase products or services from a favorite brand you trust on a regular basis.  It may be your favorite brand of potato chips, a certain brand of shoes, or maybe even a brand of coffee that you just can’t get enough of. But what if you decide to purchase a new product or a brand that you’re not familiar with? You will most likely do some research and look at some customer reviews online before you make your decision. Other customers’ opinions and experiences will affect your decision to make a purchase, just as they affect other customers in the process of making the same decision.Importance of ReviewsGoogle support states: “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.” *Customer reviews are critically important for online visibility, customer engagement and building a reputation for your brand online. In 2019, 97% of consumers used online reviews to choose which local businesses they bought their products and services from, and trends over the previous year’s indicate this percentage may grow even larger in 2020. What customers are saying about your products or services online is important to capture new sales and grow your business. Frequent positive reviews will reinforce your brand’s image and encourage customers to make a purchase.  Replying to Customer ReviewsResponding to your customer reviews is a must. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business, product, or service. Regardless if the review is positive or negative, a timely response will vastly boost your customer engagement. Responding to your negative reviews shows customers that you are invested in their interests and are willing to address their concerns. A ReveiwTrackers study from 2018 shows that 53% of customers expect a reply within 7 days of their post, so be sure to keep up with your replies.Negative Reviews Unfortunately, customers are more likely to leave a review after a negative experience with your business than with a positive one. However, the fear of negative reviews should not keep you from building your online reputation. Negative reviews are not necessarily a sign of bad business practices.  A customer could have a misunderstanding regarding your product or service.  You can mitigate the negative impact on your business from negative reviews by responding to them. Showing concern in the customer’s complaints and finding a solution to their problem will improve your business’s reputation and draw in more customers. You may remember the reinvention of Dominos’ Pizza in 2010. This was a campaign sparked by numerous negative customer reviews claiming that their pizza “tastes like cardboard” and was largely successful for the brand’s image due to Dominos’ response to the reviews.ConclusionCustomer reviews are one of the most important factors in building your visibility and reputation online and is growing in importance. A business or brand with no, or very little, reputation will see a loss of customers and sales.  Be sure to pay close attention to your customer reviews and respond to each review including positive ones, and mitigate the negative ones.* https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en

  • 0 Optimize Instagram for SEO

    Instagram accounts are notoriously difficult to index and display in the search results because they block search engines from indexing your Instagram images.  However, there are other ways to optimize your Instagram account for search engines and drive more traffic to your business website. We discovered a great article by Search Engine Watch that outlines the steps you need to take to get the most out of your Instagram account.  The following is the short version.  You can find the complete article with step-by-step instructions at https://searchenginewatch.com/optimize-instagram-account-search-enginesPublic ProfileThe first step in optimizing your Instagram account for your business is to make sure that the profile is set to public. This is to ensure that people can easily access your posts on your Instagram account.Profile SchemaSecondly, you want to set up your social profile schema.  Google allows you to use schema.org markup to tell them which social media accounts belong to you and will display them on the Google Knowledge panel.  You will need the assistance of your web developer to ensure this is set up properly. Keyword(s) In Your Instagram NameThe title tag for your Instagram account is automatically generated using your profile information.  “Including your primary target keyword under your profile name is the only way to get your most important keyword into your Instagram title tags”, says Manish Dudharejia of searchenginewatch.com. Specific and Keyword-Rich BioYour bio is meant to describe who you are right ? That’s the same thing you should do when developing your bio for your business Instagram account. Make sure to place those keyword(s) associated with the product or service that you offer so that your business Instagram page has a better chance of displaying in the search engine results (SERPs) page.  Your bio information is one of the few areas that is crawlable by search engines, so this is where a massive chunk of the optimization takes place.Your Image Caption Is Your Title TagYour image captions should be treated at title tags. Title tags have limitations on the amount of characters will be displayed in the SERPs.  Therefore, make sure your image captions contain keyword(s) in the beginning as the title tag will be cut off if it is too lengthy.Link to Your Instagram PostsYou cannot promote your individual Instagram posts by promoting only our Instagram page.  Whenever you cross promote on other social media platforms, be sure to provide a link directly to your Instagram post(s). This can lead to a higher conversion rate for any of the promotions you post on Instagram. Contact us if you have any questions about this article.