UpCity’s inbound marketing blog provides weekly & monthly news, guides, and educational resources on a variety of topics that influence SMB digital marketing. They aim to focus their content to be accessible to a wide audience that ranges from beginners and novices in digital marketing, to agency owners and decision makers looking to further their skill set and education.
This week’s roundup includes tips to improve your content marketing strategy with visuals, use videos effectively in email marketing, and boost the performance of your SEO campaigns. Learn how to achieve your lead generation goals, create an effective UI design, and much more below!
Great companies shouldn’t be stuck with marketing that doesn’t work.
A lot of people waste enormous amounts of money on marketing that doesn’t work and rightfully feel frustrated. This article will help you avoid some costly mistakes that most companies make so that you can make marketing profitable.
If you avoid these mistakes and do what I’m suggesting, your company will grow, you’ll beat out the competition, and you’ll have peace of mind. I’m only asking you one thing; share it with other great businesses who deserve to take their company to the next level.
1. Not Defining the Problem You Solve
People only pay attention to information that will help them survive and thrive. The human brain determines whether or not to pay attention within the first eight seconds. A goldfish has a nine-second attention span. So, if you’re selling to goldfish, you have an advantage.
You must make sure you clearly introduce the problem your product solves. If you look at the beginning of the document, you will notice we offer a philosophical, external, and finally, an internal problem that people encounter. Let people know which problem you solve.
2. Communicating the Wrong Message
People need to hear information up to eight times to adequately understand it. If you are communicating varying messages, people will never realize why they need to buy your product or service.
Communicating differing messages is the equivalent of changing your company logo over and over. Eventually, you will no longer be able to determine which logo represents your company. Your company must have one clear message that communicates what problem you solve and how it will make customers lives better. You might think that repeating yourself is a bad thing when, in reality, that is the goal. Your marketing is an exercise of guiding potential customers in memorization.
3. Choosing Cute and Clever Over Clear and Concise
People do not buy the best products: they buy the products they can understand the quickest. We believe the best products should win since it’s the best option for the consumer. For you to win, you must communicate with clarity.
If your website and advertising aren’t clear as day, you will lose to the competition. Cute and clever seems great, but they come second to clear. Here is a great litmus test to detect if your message is clear. If you showed your site to a 5th grader (who doesn’t know your company) for just 5 seconds, could they then repeat back to you what you sell and how it makes their life better? If you’re not crystal clear, you’re losing sales.
4. Forgetting About the Funnel
Will you marry me? Too soon? It’s okay, I’m married anyway, but this is what most companies do when asking customers to buy from you. They don’t allow customers to build a relationship with you and go on a few dates before asking them the big question.
When you ask someone to buy your product or service, this is called a direct call to action. This call to action is essential in getting people to buy your product or service. Most people stop there, though. What your website needs is a transitional call to action. This step gives potential customers a chance to provide you with their information in exchange for something of value to them. Often this comes in the form of a PDF, free guide, or video series.
5. Not Painting a Clear Picture of Success
People don’t know what’s in it for them unless you tell them. Do your website and marketing materials show people using your product or service and enjoying it? Do you showcase the benefits of working with you, and what people will experience?
You cannot over-communicate how people’s lives will benefit from your product as long as you deliver on it.
6. Making Social Media All About You
This idea may seem counterintuitive to some of you, but the more you talk about yourself, the likelihood of customers buying from you goes down.
This concept is especially true of social media marketing. A strong call to action is great, but you should be providing people value through your social media to grow your audience. Your social media should be all about helping get your target customer what they want. They are the hero of the story, not you.
We do this for our clients not only when we run their social media, but also when we create social media ads for them. In creating those ads, we are making the customer the hero of the story.
7. Not Outsourcing When Possible
What we’ve found time and time again is that companies are way too close to their products, services, and brand to communicate what they do clearly in a way that moves people to action. The reason for this is called the curse of knowledge. If you are an expert in your field or craft, you have a 9+ out of 10 knowledge of your industry. This knowledge is excellent for being a practitioner but bad for marketing.
To communicate simply, you communicate at a 6 (possibly a level 5) out of ten. The problem is that people make buying decisions at levels 2 and 3. When you outsource with someone like us you can have a clear message, a website you love, and Facebook ads that convert. Just imagine someone else doing all that hard work for you without the headache! Of course, it’s also important to choose the right partner.
By keeping an eye on these seven potential money wasters, you’ll ensure that your marketing efforts provide the most return on investment!
Q: Tell me a little about your company and how it got its start.
A: We founded Storm Brain in 2007 after spending a few years traveling internationally working independently on creative design, branding, and photography projects. Now, Storm Brain has grown to be a full-service team of multi-disciplinary specialists and we serve clients internationally. We focus on brand strategy, website solutions, and digital marketing. Our headquarters is in San Diego, but we also have offices in Orange County and Los Angeles.
Q: That’s awesome. Storm Brain has been around for over a decade, so you’re a bit further along in your growth as a company than some of our other partners. I talk with a lot of agencies who are looking to make that jump, scale their operations, and build their team. That can be pretty scary.
What advice do you have for agency owners who are just starting out?
A: Our first piece of advice would be don’t do it. Obviously, we’re kidding, but it’s definitely an uphill battle from day one. Establishing quality work that allows you to showcase what you’re capable of, building that initial reputation, can be really tough.
The biggest thing for those looking to make that jump, we’d say, is to pay attention to the core inner workings of your business. What things are important, what processes are working, who are the people that will help support your growth? Having the ability to do great work means nothing if you take the wrong steps early on.
Q: What would you say has been the biggest challenge that Storm Brain has faced?
A: The toughest thing for us has been finding scalability from an organizational perspective. We are very customized in our approach and process of working with each business. It’s what has set us apart and earned us a reputation of being really relationship-driven.
We like to act as a true extension of our client’s teams, and with this distinction, we don’t produce cookie-cutter, repeatable products. Creating and implementing processes that allow us to do that kind of work at scale isn’t always easy. We have high demand and would like to continue to take on new clients each year to keep up with our consistency in growth. Over the last three years, Storm Brain has grown approximately 30% annually, so we want to keep that up. That’s why we’re focused so heavily on the process side of things.
Q: How do you approach refining those processes to figure out what’s going to work best for your team?
A: Things vary drastically from client to client, but there are always going to be similarities in production and process. What’s been helpful for us is to identify those similarities, identify the project variables, and iterate on our processes to produce something new. That kind of mindset allows us to create highly customized experiences while maintaining productivity.
The other thing that’s really helped us is having a project management tool, documenting our process, and having all team members take part in the process. If every team member has ownership and a stake in the process creation, then they’re able to better understand and commit to its success. In other words, it’s not just the process but also the documentation of that process.
Q: I’m sure those strong processes are what’s helped you maintain a 30% annual growth over the last few years. I want to follow up on that number a bit. How has your team grown to support that additional revenue?
A: We’ve definitely had to grow our team and it hasn’t always been easy to find the right balance. We want to push forward, grow our book of clients, and increase our revenue but we first and foremost want to provide great service to our clients and a great work experience to our employees. We want to make sure that we’re using our people to the best of their abilities, not over-stressing them or letting them sit with nothing to do. Our team has grown consistently over the last three years, and now we’re at 22 people.
Q: How important is being recommendable to Storm Brain?
A: 100% of our new business is inbound from relationship-driven inquiries. Potential clients find us online and see the great experiences our clients have had with us, or they are referred to us by a client. We practice what we preach and like to think that we lead by example as to the power of word-of-mouth. Q: We’re huge proponents of word-of-mouth. With an agency your size, how do you manage to maintain that relationship-driven model at scale?
A: Blake and I have really taken to that initiative personally. Not every agency operates that way, but we’ve found that it leads to really meaningful relationships. Every account has different team members fulfilling on different aspects, but we’re there managing the strategy meetings with our clients. We like to use those meetings as an opportunity to get to know their business as a whole so we can better situate their marketing within it.
Q: That comes through loud and clear in your reviews on your UpCity profile. More than 50 reviews and a five-star average rating is nothing to scoff at. What have you done to build such a strong reputation through your online reviews?
A: It’s definitely not by accident! We do have a review generation strategy that we kick off once a project has reached certain markers. Honestly, the best time to start asking for reviews is as soon as the client is happy.
We actually got the idea for our most successful review generation strategy from UpCity! You guys run your Reviews for a Cause campaigns every so often and we thought it was an amazing way to incentivize our customers and give back to the community at the same time.
Once or twice a year we run a promotion where we donate $50 to charity for each review we receive. Clients seem to engage with those campaigns a lot because it gives the review more weight: it’s only a few minutes of their time and $50 to charity is no small number. We try to align these promotions with our annual corporate giving/charity event as well, so it works double-duty!
Q:That’s amazing! We love to see our partners taking our strategies and making them their own. The last question I’d like to ask is how your partnership with UpCity has helped your business thus far and how you foresee it growing in the future?
A: We love UpCity. We rely so heavily on inbound, so our online reputation is huge for us and UpCity is a big piece of that. We see a pretty consistent influx of activity from people looking for our services through UpCity. If anything, we see our relationship with UpCity growing as we scale our business.
For us, it’s important that you guys are growing with us as well. You’re not staying stagnant. You have a good reputation, you have a lot of agencies participating in your Marketplace, and you provide valuable content and resources. Beyond that, you put your money where your mouth is and offer real value. We have to consider where to put our time, efforts, and investments, and a platform like UpCity that almost guarantees a return is a no-brainer.
Leah is an executive leader with demonstrated experience in business development, marketing, advertising, brand strategy and customer outreach. She is skilled in the implementation of strategy-led creative solutions, which bring organizations innovative transformation. Leah’s expertise includes; brand development, digital marketing, experiential marketing, advertising, marketing for nonprofit organizations, event production and activation as well operational business management.
Blake is the Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of Storm Brain, a digital agency specializing in online digital marketing campaigns, brand strategy, design, web and e-commerce development, as well as services related to the implementation of creative marketing strategy. With nearly 20 years of development and design experience, Blake has worked with clients from a diverse range of industries including best-known brands, such as Chase, Keller Williams, Focus Features, Quicken Loans and others.
A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in Photography and Illustration, he is a recognized artist with work collected by the Smithsonian Institute, the world’s largest museum. A lifetime entrepreneur and creative thinker, Blake lives in San Diego with his wife and daughter and is dedicated to living with a forward-thinking approach to life and business.
Storm Brain is an award-winning digital agency specializing in online digital marketing campaigns, brand strategy, design, web and e-commerce development, as well as services related to the implementation of creative marketing strategy. We uniquely communicate who you are, demonstrate why you’re important, create maximum conversions, drive business growth and profitability, and visually get noticed with mind-boggling design.
Do you want to improve your video conversions? Video is one of the best ways to improve engagement on your website. Compelling, creative, and memorable videos will give users something to discuss, while also imparting far more information than nearly any other type of media.
If you want to create an engaging site, start here!
The Benefits of Video for Engagement and Conversion
As video has become more accessible, it’s no surprise that more people have started watching video content than ever before. High speed Internet and mobile devices have made watching videos online fast and seamless, and that’s allowed advertisers to take advantage of video’s amazing ability to engage.
Video can tell a story from beginning to end. It captures a viewer’s attention from the start, and (if it can keep their attention) it can impart a large amount of information within only a few minutes of time.
It’s been shown that people are generally more receptive to video media. Not only is it more entertaining, but it can also deliver information to those who learn through listening, watching, and also reading.
If you’re looking to increase your engagement and conversion, it’s likely that you’re going to have to invest in video production services, but what type of video should you invest in for the maximum returns? How can you make sure that your video is able to establish significant engagement and conversion?
Types of Video for Best Conversion and Engagement
Ideally, your content library will have a wide inventory of videos, improving your chances of capturing the attention of your leading demographics. There are a number of different video types you can test out on your website to improve your conversions.
Here are a few of the most popular:
Explainer videos are used to describe how a product or service works, and they’re often brilliant ways to introduce a new company or business model. When exploring a new product or service, users often look at explainer videos first: they want to know the ins and outs of a product before they commit. Consequently, explainer videos are some of the most important types of video to develop, and should be developed early on in your business process.
Interactive videos are becoming more popular as the technology becomes more readily available. During an interactive video, a user can select certain prompts, or respond to polls. The video can then “react” to the user’s response. This is an excellent way to improve engagement, even if it means that more video content needs to be created.
How-to videos are extremely shareable, as well as likely to be saved and reviewed multiple times. While they don’t always lead directly to conversions, they’re important for building traffic and engagement. The more valuable and in-depth your how-to videos are, the more likely they are to be popular.
Live Videos and Vlogs
Many streaming services have made it possible to easily launch into live videos or regular vlogs. If your content is regular enough, people will continue to watch it, and your traffic will grow. As your traffic grows, so will your engagement and your conversions. Live video tends to be particularly engaging, as users are able to interact by sending comments in and interact with each other.
Company Culture Videos
Company culture videos provide information about the company’s mission and its values. Many viewers are looking to interact with a company that they trust. Company culture lets a user see that the company’s mission and values align with theirs, and that the company prizes its relationships with its customers.
Users enjoy seeing how things are made and how things work. Behind-the-scenes videos serve to humanize a company, making them feel as though they know more about how the business operates, as well as whether the products and services they provide are high in value or not. A BTS video can also be used for things like employee recruitment.
Event and Presentation Videos
Large events, seminars, and presentations may be referenced by customers who are interested in learning more about a product. In the business-to-business market, these types of videos are even more important, as consumers are very savvy and are often doing quite a lot of research.
As you can see, there are many types of video to choose from, all with different merits. Having a variety will increase your company’s reach, by giving your users different content to experience, share, and likes. Your content library will likely start with an investment in foundational videos: explainer videos, how-to videos, and company culture videos. From there, you can expand to live videos and vlogs.
Tips for Creating More Engaging Videos
Regardless of the type of video you’re creating, there are a few tips that will help you improve your conversion rates. By using these strategies, you’ll be able to direct your users to continue engaging with your site, as well as prompting them towards conversion.
Have a Clear Call-to-Action
Let your audience know what you expect them to do next, whether it’s commenting on the video, following your social media, or signing up for your newsletter.
Post Your Video at the Right Times
There are certain times that are better for traffic (generally weekends and evenings). Experiment with your posting schedule to see which is most effective!
Integrate Your Content with Your Social Media
Social media is one of the best platforms for video and will bring traffic back to your website. Make sure that your video content links to your social media accounts and advertise your videos regularly on social media. Make sure to tag it appropriately.
Open Up a Comments Section and Prompt Users to Comment
Asking a question at the end of a video is a good way to get your users to share their experiences. The more they engage with your brand, the better. Make an open call for opinions, stories, or critiques.
Provide a Transcript of Your Video
The only real downside to videos is that they aren’t easily indexed and archived for SEO purposes. Providing a transcript does two things: it improves your search engine optimization, and it also makes it easier for any viewers who don’t have the time to listen to or watch a video.
Keep a Consistent Brand Identity
Your brand identity and brand voice should be the same across all of your videos and content, to give your viewers a better idea of what your company is about, and what they can expect from it.
Cross Promote Your Videos
If you’re doing a video before a live event, make sure to mention that event! Cross promoting your videos will encourage your customers to watch more of your videos, and potentially interact with your brand.
Host Giveaways and Other Promotions
Giveaways get people excited, especially when done through live streaming. You can encourage people to watch your videos by offering deals and promotions.
When properly implemented, the above tips will help expand the reach of your videos, while also encouraging them to continue following your brand.
Measuring Your Conversion and Engagement Rates
While engagement naturally leads to conversion, they aren’t the same thing. You can experience a large amount of engagement with very weak conversion if you aren’t targeting the right demographics or aren’t targeting them in the right way.
By using the right video engagement metrics, you should be able to see which of your videos are performing the best, yet the videos that have the most likes, shares, and clicks aren’t always the ones that are most profitable for a business. Instead, you may need to look at the videos that are directly leading to conversion.
High engagement signals include: likes, shares, clicks, and follows. Yet these signals could come from anywhere. You could have a large sharing demographic in Australia, even though all of your businesses are positioned in the United States.
High conversion, on the other hand, is often indicated through tracking token: clicks through from your video that ultimately leads to a sale.
All of this highlights the importance of collecting and analyzing the right information. If you have very high engagement but low conversion, it could be that while your video content is interesting and insightful, it’s not properly targeted to your audience. Further, you might find that your product or service isn’t being portrayed in the right light through your content.
Your video content must always act in service to your product. If your video content isn’t designed to improve upon conversion as well as engagement, you could find yourself with a significantly broad reach that ultimately leads to weak results.
If you want to improve your on-site engagement and conversions, video is the best way. Yet there are many types of video to choose from, and many options when crafting your video. As with any content library, it’s often best to create a large variety of videos, and then narrow down your videos to the ones that are performing best.
Content marketing has now become an extremely important tool in a brand’s arsenal, especially with regards to generating leads. But while long-form articles and white-papers continue to own their space on the internet, according to the latest digital marketing trends, alongside text, visuals and video have become the more effective methods for brands to increase their SEO.
For newer brands launching their first websites, some SEO Basics need to be followed when optimizing your text content, but similar strategies can be used for visuals that will keep customers on your page for longer and give them a reason to share your content.
Google, the largest search engine in the world, has been upgrading its platform, making it more convenient to index your images. While in the past images did little for SEO, now with the help of well-written alt tags even your imagery can build on your Google rankings. While Google text searches continue to be the primary search form, users are also beginning to use image search fairly frequently. Thus, image search engines have been updated for users, becoming better at indexing and categorizing parts of images.
Adopting visuals will lead to organizations seeing a marked difference in their online engagement. Here are a few more reasons why brands should be turning to using visuals consistently across their websites to boost SEO.
Visuals Capture Attention Faster
Life has gotten so much busier in the last few years and it is now impossible for working people to take a few minutes out of their day to read an entire article. Additionally, with so much stimulation being generated from the digital sphere, it has become very difficult to keep your audience focused on your content for longer than a few seconds. If a business is focusing solely on optimizing their text content in their digital marketing, they will miss out on keeping their audience’s attention for a significant period of time.
Visuals are a one-stop shop for all kinds of information. Whether they are infographics, images, videos, or animations, visuals have the ability to share a large amount of information while demanding very little time from the audience. Grammarly’s Pinterest boards are humorous and engaging and hold your attention with ease.
It isn’t only about capturing attention: visuals are also easier to retain than paragraphs of text. Using visuals to further illustrate your text points can make recall much easier for readers and keep them coming back to your site for reference.
When your customers and readers have little time to spare, a great visual can do the job of a thousand words read leisurely over time. By using the right landing page visuals, brands can make a significant impression on visitors to their site and see a resultant increase in their SEO.
Visuals Make Your Brand Identifiable
Brands already know the importance of a strong brand identity, which is why they work so hard, and spend so much money, creating an attractive logo. This effort can easily be transferred to the rest of the visual content a company uses to make the brand more identifiable to audiences.
However, this does not mean that businesses should stamp their logo on all visual material. Instead, they should create a visual language that is all their own and which can make them easy to spot even without their logo.
If you look at brands like Oreo and Starbucks, you will immediately notice a consistent visual identity that they use across all their digital platforms—web and social. One does not need to look at their branding to recognize their products, that is how consistent their visual library has been over the years.
By designing a consistent visual identity, brands can make themselves far more identifiable and see their SEO go through the stratosphere.
Visuals Can be Customized
While brands trying to save a few cents, and time, may invest in stock photography for their visual assets, this is unlikely to help their SEO. Users have become extremely savvy now and will be able to spot a stock photo immediately. Also, because of the plethora of stock photo sites, a number of companies are reusing the same images, and that immediately removes any chance of a brand being visually identifiable. Even with the right alt-tags, stock images will not impact your SEO positively as much as original imagery.
Unfortunately, creating original visual in-house can be an expensive proposition, requiring businesses to hire a photographer and studio space, at the very least. While this is still possible for larger companies, for small businesses, this is an extremely difficult ask.
With the rise of visual template services, it has become far easier to create original and customizable visuals that suit the needs of the business. There are now templates available for everything, from social media posts to web banners, from infographics to white papers. All of which can be customized for the purposes of the brand’s messaging.
Take a look at the Facebook post below. The icons, colors, and text can all be adapted for different circumstances, creating different content with minimal effort.
Original visuals will give your site’s visitors a better feel of your company and allow them to grasp important information about your products and services with a quick glance at your content. In turn, this will keep your audience engaged with your site for longer, which is your primary aim.
Visuals are Easily Shareable
The great thing about visuals is how much easier it is to share around the internet. We have established the popularity of visuals already, so it isn’t surprising that an attractive post or detailed infographic is more likely to be shared than a long article trying to convey the same information.
MoonPie’s Instagram shares fun shareable visuals, something like this simple infographic that arrests the viewer and can easily be shared.
Because social media is so visual-forward, having strong images makes it more likely for users to share your content to their followers, thus driving more traffic to your website. Visuals can also be embedded on sites, with permissions, which will include redirects to your brand’s website, thus further increasing traffic and boosting SEO.
Visuals Can be Adapted from Other Content
For businesses trying to ensure brand recall, content marketing can feel burdensome because of the amount of material one needs to create to stay top of mind. But that needn’t be the case, because content can be repurposed into visuals.
Blog posts can be adapted into charts or infographics, which in turn can be divided into smaller images and shared across social media channels. Social media posts can be reposted with the use of new images. Visuals are also excellent for sharing data of any kind in a way that is more engaging and attractive, like this fun chart about how students feel during summer that could accompany a longer blog.
By adapting visuals from existing content, you not only give your content a new lease on life, but increase the chances of keeping your audience engaged and increasing your SEO.
There is barely anything one can’t do with visuals when one is a little imaginative. When you are using your SEO analysis tools to examine your website, you will see a massive difference in your SEO when you start using visuals on a consistent basis. And for businesses looking for the right visuals to help their marketing, you can boost your SEO today with visual templates from tools like Venngage.
There is a lot of time, work, and investment that goes into building a new website and to see that your site is not reaching its full potential is a hard pill to swallow. Your website is meant to be a significant source for new leads and business growth. So, if you’ve done the research, taken SEO into consideration, and the website still is not performing then the question you should be asking yourself is how can you optimize your user experience.
A web designer that understands the psychology that goes into user interactions can have a drastic effect on your website conversions. To better explain, below are five basic design principles that can factor into your website conversions.
1. Understand Your Users
Whether we like to admit it or not, prospects will spend a large amount of their time on websites that are not our own. Throughout their time online, users have come to have an expectation of how a site should function and now assume that there will be consistency on every page they visit. Taking this into consideration, we know that it doesn’t always make sense to “reinvent the wheel”.
When it comes to any website’s design, navigation, terminology, and workflow, visitors have developed a familiarity of these basic website elements. As an example, when most users visit a website they can expect to find a navigation bar at the top that includes common topics or products, often times a search field, or even a login field.
These are all elements that you would not expect to find, for example, at the bottom corner of a web page. Just think about the level of difficulty that user experience would be. It’s not something you may actively be thinking about when you visit a website but, like second nature, you notice it if it’s not there.
2. Limit the Number of Choices
For example, have you ever gone to a website’s blog page only to find an archived list of the past 48 months to select from? As a user, would you start clicking on each month to search for a topic relevant to you, or would you give up and move on?
Web designers have the capability of increasing conversion rates just by giving users fewer options to choose from. Providing visitors with too many choices can create confusion, frustration, and ultimately can cost you conversions. The longer it takes for a person to decide about how to proceed, they more likely it is that they will simply give up and never complete the task.
3. Shrink Your Forms
If you are looking to increase your form-fill conversions, start by looking at the form itself. What are you asking your visitors to do in order to get what they want?
Users are becoming increasingly cautious about giving out any type of information online, so consider if each field you are requiring is necessary; if not, then skip it!
A study conducted by Hubspot showed that by reducing a landing page with 11 fields down to only 4 fields, conversions increased from 13% to 19%, and by removing just one more field conversions spiked to 26%. When it comes form fields, less is more.
4. Visually Encourage a Desired Outcome
One way to encourage your website visitors to take a specific action on your product or service page is by making one of the options stand out visually over the others. Much like a restaurant will outline their specials or signature dishes on their menu, your website should highlight a product or service that is niche, most cost-effective to the customer, or most frequently purchased.
This isolation effect guides the user to where you want them to look, rather than overwhelming them with options. The example below highlights the business’s Classic Plan, and even though it’s the second option your eye immediately is drawn to it based on the visual representation.
One of the most important factors in website conversions is the visibility and location of the CTA button. The size and placement of these buttons need to be carefully considered, and should make it as easy on the user as possible:
Clearly labeled: your button should convey a clear message to the user of its function, such as “Download eBook”, “Add to Cart”, or “Contact Us”.
Visually distinct: a large button that is easy to see will catch the eye of the user, reducing the amount of time the visitor is looking for next steps.
Positioned nearby: limit the distance between your CTA button and where the user’s cursor would naturally be on the page to reduce any confusion of where they should be clicking next.
As an example, Wisconsin Oven has a clear CTA that is positioned at two optimal points of the page, immediately stands out, and clearly explains the action the user will be taking if they click on it.
5. Take Action and Measure Results
Consider these design principles when looking at your own website. Are your call-to-action buttons in obvious and relevant positions? Do you have too many options that might overwhelm a visitor? Are your forms too long or complex?
Take time to go through these design elements and hone in on the ones that might be having an impact on your website conversions. Just as important as making the changes, be sure to track your results. Make one change at a time and prepare to conduct split testing with your web design and layout.
Until you test your website optimizations, you won’t have a solid understanding of the effects your changes have on your conversions.
Do you remember the last time you craved (insert favorite food here), immediately Googled the nearest restaurant, and then headed there for dinner? Or perhaps you were scrolling through Instagram and saw a video story of someone who was lunching at (your fav restaurant) and their burger looked luscious.
Either way, you were impacted by a micro-moment in time: your decisions about what to crave or do were guided by something that you found on the internet or social media. While capitalizing on your SEO prowess will net your business clicks for searches, it takes calculated effort to infiltrate customer micro-moments on social media. In this post, we’ll teach you how to leverage social media stories to stay relevant, engaging, and visible with your audience.
The Rise of Micro-Moments
Google recently released multiple thought-leadership pieces on micro-moments that provided fascinating insight into shopper actions around purchasing. These are the few seconds which can shape decisions and preferences throughout the buyer journey, a crucial fork in the road for shoppers.
Mobile is the digital playground for brands wanting to capitalize on consumer micro-moments, as these searches are increasingly happening as people are on-the-go in their daily life. From determining if there is a “drugstore near me” to getting their oil changed or grabbing some pizza—micro-moments are defining the way we shop for and consume content, goods and services.
Leveraging Social Media Stories
Instagram is the latest brand darling for its outright number of influencers as well as the transparency the platforms provides to connect brands with the buyers who love them. The use of social media stories has grown 842% in the past few years, and that number continues to grow as video stories are incorporated more vigorously into the platform.
Brand managers and marketers should see Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and Instagram stories as exactly that: storytelling opportunities that can feel less scripted, more authentic—and more actionable. Unfortunately, many marketing teams simply aren’t yet equipped to do justice to stories in the way that influencers are using them: to create a flood of micro-moments in the life of the brand and their followers. This evolution of storytelling can help savvy storytellers bridge the gap between brand engagement and ultimately a purchase.
Seeing Brands From a New Perspective
What makes stories so shareable is that they allow consumers to see the brand from a new perspective: fresh, engaging and delighting for users. While the stories format is still being perfected on various social media platforms, there are benefits to getting your brand into the mix as soon as possible.
For now, stories from friends and professional creators are still intermingled, making it feel a bit more earthy and raw—something that brings the brand a more human touch. Stories are inherently fleeting in nature, so you have to look for ways to make a big impact in a short period of time. The good news: the majority of Instagram users are watching stories with their sound on, making it a bit easier to capture attention.
Some of the best ways to implement video stories into your marketing plan include:
Keeping it natural by mixing high-quality user-generated content with messages from your brand like Glossier did in their Resolutions campaign or Urban Decay did with this review based story campaign.
Stalking your customers by looking for great uses of your products—then sharing them (with credit to the creator, of course!). Forever21 and other fashion brands do a great job of this!
Keeping the dialog open with your customers starts by meeting them where they are, and they definitely can be found consuming stories on social media. Creating a micro-moment with your customer is all about having your brand visible in their split-second of decision-making—and social media stories will get you there!
This week’s roundup includes tips to improve the performance of content marketing campaigns, increase profits with email marketing, and boost your SEO strategy. Learn how to increase sales with CRO and start a social media optimization campaign. We’ve covered all of this news and much more, below!
From the UpCity Blog:
Our manager of SEO & social media, Jordan Stella, sat down with Kriston Sellier of id8 to discuss how the agency got its start, id8’s approach to building client relationships, and the booming Atlanta tech market in our latest From the Ground Up interview.
Steve Wiideman discusses how small businesses can start addressing voice searchers.
Kristen Friend goes over how to use design elements to keep your website’s visitors engaged.
Lauren Snyder provides tips for optimizing your company’s Instagram profile.
Kristen Bryan explains how focusing efforts on creating a brand identity will in turn improve sales.
Chakraborty discusses the commonly made mistakes of content marketers and offers guidance to improve the performance of content marketing campaigns.
JD Maleh highlights the significance of content marketing in today’s scenario.
Kim Moutsos offers guidance to revamp your content marketing campaigns when your content has not achieved the desired results.
Follow the valuable tips from Kaya Ismail to improve your content marketing efforts.
Learn how to improve your content marketing strategy with Instagram from Shane Barker’s blog.
Amrit Hallan offers copywriting tips to boost your website conversion rate.
Follow the conversion rate optimization tips from Jacel Booth to increase sales.
Haley Carpenter presents an overview of CRO and discusses how it helps improve the performance of your PPC campaigns.
Learn how to increase the chances of getting your emails opened from Garry West’s blog.
Mahesh CK discusses how email marketing can help marketers narrow down their audience, measure results, and have personalized interaction.
Learn how to rank higher in local search and gain more customers from Ryan Duke’s blog.
Shane Black highlights the significance of Local SEO in today’s scenario and discusses the strategies that will improve Local SEO.
Mark Coleman discusses how Local SEO can help businesses know their audience, benefit from targeted searches, and attain higher search rankings.
Guido Bartolacci discusses how it is imperative for marketers to keep CTAs accessible and understanding user behavior when they optimize the site for mobile.
Search Engine Optimization:
Brent Wildman details the difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO.
John E Lincoln discusses how image schema markup can create rich results with pictures.
Richard Dean draws special attention to the white hat link building techniques that can be implemented right way.
Ryan Kh highlights how techniques such as identifying niche keywords, conducting a site audit and acquiring high quality backlinks can help you improve your SEO strategy.
Learn how to start a social media optimization campaign with Ryan Andrews’s blog.
Follow the tips from Shay Cronin to improve the performance of your social media campaigns.
Mashum Mollah emphasizes the need for engaging with influencer marketing and creating share-worthy content to boost your SMO efforts.
Chris Kirksey discusses how user experience presents a key to unlock loyal customers and achieve higher search engine rankings.
Zach Naylor provides a guide to user research analysis.
Kelly Groover discusses how a website that is optimized for both Google and your users will help drive traffic, create higher conversion rates, and increase sales.
Andrew Cabasso shares a detailed guide of questions web designers should ask new clients during onboarding and why it’s beneficial to do so.
Your website visitors’ attention is a precious resource, and it should be treated with respect. When people land on any page of your site, they should find content that is relevant, useful and worthy of their time.
Interactive design elements give website owners the opportunity to place content in a framework that is most likely to engage users on a personal level. When visitors can determine—at least in part—how they consume content, they bring themselves into the experience, making it more fulfilling and meaningful.
What is an Interactive Design Element?
An interactive element is anything on a web page a user can interact with. Most page content, like text and images, is static, and users passively consume such content. Interactive elements prompt users to do something, giving them control, and taking them from passive readers to active participants in the online experience.
Interactive elements can range from those that are simple and commonly used, like tabbed content, to complex data visualizations and games. What any website owner chooses to do with interactive content will depend on the goals of the site and the needs of its user base.
Why Use Interactive Elements?
Content marketing efforts are often heavily word-centric. Several years ago, a few widely shared studies of word count on highly ranking pages convinced marketers that web pages needed to be long. Content creators began regularly churning out pages thousands of words long in hopes of pleasing search engines and getting likes and shares.
This strategy is in direct conflict with commonly cited theories about the ever-shrinking human attention span. Fortunately, there is evidence that people are willing to give long web pages a shot. Well-targeted interactive content can help increase the chances that visitors will spend more time with your pages.
User Participation and Active Learning
Active learning is a process in which individuals are involved with the subject matter in some way, in contrast to passively listening to a lecture or reading a book. Examples of active learning techniques include games, role-playing, demonstrations and discussion, among others.
Multiple studies support the idea that active learning boosts memory. A 2014 study of active learning found that students who sat in lectures were 1.5 times more likely to fail a course than those who heard a lecture and also participated in some form of active learning.
Interactive content can increase the number of things people remember about a web page by tapping into the same processes that connect people to material in active learning scenarios. It can also increase people’s memory of specific facts or items. In one Content Marketing Institute study, 73 percent of respondents claimed that adding interactive elements to their content marketing efforts increases retention of their organization’s message.
When people scan websites, they read small pieces of copy and look for relevant information. If they do not see something that grabs their attention, they may click away or bounce around to another browser tab. Interactive content gives users a reason to pause and actively consume content. This interrupts fast, hot-potato scanning and compel visitors to pay attention.
Rewarding User Behavior
Receiving positive feedback produces a natural high. Humans get a little dopamine boost from reward and positive reinforcement, a phenomenon that helps explain why people can feel, and be, addicted to their smartphones.
NYU professor Adam Alter compares the rush received from getting likes on a social media post to that of taking a drug, because to the human brain the rewards are very similar.
Interactive content can be used to create the sense of pleasure people get naturally from receiving positive feedback. Content transitions, interactive slideshows, button animations and process or status updates all serve to let users know they have successfully accomplished a task and give them a boost.
Earning Trust and Conversions
Building a website experience people will remember, and providing gratification through reward, are both good business-building tactics. When people know your brand and feel good about it, they are more likely to trust it and become loyal to it.
Types of Interactive ElementsSlideshows, Timelines and Interactive Galleries
This type of content can be helpful when conveying a complex point, telling a story, or adapting a lot of information to an easily consumable format. Slideshows can take people through a process or illustrate a how-to, while timelines can explain a history or tell a brand story.
This type of content also builds brand authority by demonstrating knowledge and placing the brand in the context of important historical events.
National Geographic has built an interactive timeline that tells the story of its magazine and highlights significant discoveries and innovations, which summarizes over a century of history in a clean, easy to use interface. Users are not immediately overwhelmed with information and can learn and explore at their own pace.
Briskman Briskman & Greenberg has developed a slideshow that takes visitors through the lawsuit process, letting them know what to expect should they pursue a case.
Calculators and Comparison Generators
Calculators and comparisons are good for people selling a product or service with many features, like a car. These generators can help people compare options and get a better feel for the benefits of different purchase decisions.
While the New York Times is not selling a service, they are likely attracting readers with their interactive comparison of home rental and purchase options, which helps people evaluate whether buying or renting is a better choice for them.
Interactive Infographics and Data Visualizations
Statistics and data can be useful tools to inform and influence. Placing data into a context that is dynamic and easy to navigate can help your readers understand and remember it.
Quizzes and Games
Quizzes and games are perfect for providing the type of instant gratification feedback people crave. After someone completes a quiz or plays a game, you can give them a summary of their answers or performance that they can share on social media, potentially extending your content’s reach.
People particularly like to take quizzes that supposedly reveal information about themselves. The Chekhov with Google quiz lets visitors explore which Anton Chekhov character they are. It was used originally to audition users for a theatrical online reading of Chekhov’s works.
Assessments and Recommendation Engines
These types of generators are helpful for moving people through the steps of a sales process. They can also be good lead generation tools. Assessments help users set benchmarks for progress and recommendations and can encourage visitors to make a decision about a purchase.
The Hello Fresh recommendation generator entices people to purchase meals by giving recipe suggestions based on users’ moods.
Live Chats and Feedback Tools
Those in the retail or service industry understand first-hand how much consumers like to give feedback. And this feedback can be valuable. By offering chats, surveys, and quizzes, you can gain insight into how your visitors think and have a better understanding of how to meet their needs, while potentially generating leads. This type of content also makes your brand seem accessible, which is an important step in trust-building.
McCormack & Erlich uses an interactive intake form on its homepage that encourages visitors to tell their story, as though they are speaking to a person, not a web page. This is more personal than a static contact form.
If you have studies or whitepapers that are stuck as pdfs, they can be repurposed into interactive ebooks that are both more accessible to search engines and website visitors.
Are There Downsides to Interactive Design Elements?
Interactive content empowers visitors to personalize their experience and can lead to increased engagement and enjoyment of page content. However, interactive content is not a panacea for all website woes. There are some instances where adding interactive content could harm website performance. Here are a few caveats.
Research performed by the Penn State Media Effects Research Laboratory uncovered mixed results for interactive content. Participants in the study did tend to remember interactive items more than static content. However, overall recall of the page was lower. That is, people tended to only remember the interactive piece, to the detriment of the rest of the content.
The research also indicated that adding too many bells and whistles decreased time on site. It is important to note that this research studied only people who were asked to perform tasks on an e-commerce website. This suggests that retailers should carefully plan where and how they employ interactive elements.
Also remember that interactive elements can be heavy and increase load times. When adding any content, consider whether the time it will take to load will be worth it for your visitors.
Tips for Successful Web Content
Adding dynamic and interactive tools to your site can help your brand stand out in a positive way. These tricks don’t have to be applied to all of your content. No matter how cool an effect may be, too much can be a turn-off. And simple interactive features can be just as effective as advanced, bleeding-edge techniques, as long as you are speaking to your visitors’ needs. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Only use interactive content if you have a good reason. Some content is better suited to static presentation.
Make format appropriate to content. Carefully consider all of your options before choosing the most suitable type of interactivity.
Repurpose static content. You do not have to create everything from scratch every time. Look through archives to see what content you already have that might make good presentations or animations. You can also repurpose seminars and other offline presentations for web use.
Use third-party tools when necessary. If you are adding complex features, consider using tools developed specifically for that type of content. This will save time and development dollars.
Interactive content can boost your website’s performance, enhance lead generation, help with brand recognition, and engage your visitors. For all its positives however, when overdone or done haphazardly, interactive content can work against you. Always weigh the pros and cons of incorporating different types of interactivity into your pages and examine how the content will help your visitors.
The easiest actions a small business can take to optimize for voice search include using a Web Speech API on their website, publishing then sharing short answers, and by claiming their business with Google Assistant and Alexa Skills.
Since the March 2014 introduction of Amazon’s Echo, the small business community has struggled with how to address appearing for voice-driven queries, continuing to focus on search engine optimization efforts through web search and using “mobile SEO” as their alibi.
Small businesses have a choice to either start exploring voice search, with a few starting points listed herein, or be left behind as larger brands continue master it into the new decade.
Today, studies have shown that 26.2% of the U.S. adult population now own a smart speaker, and predictions include numbers as high as 50% of all mobile searches being performed using voice by 2020 and 30% of searches will be done without even a screen.
1. Using a Web Speech API on Your Website
For accessibility and ADA compliance alone, businesses should experiment with “Read This Page” features, deployable in many circumstances using simple plugins, such as Responsive Text to Speech. In support of voice search efforts if your website offers a search box, don’t require mobile users to use a keyboard. Instead, ask your webmaster to add a Web Speech API, enabling them to incorporate speech recognition and synthesis into your web pages.
Your mobile visitor can now hit a microphone icon instead of a magnifying glass icon to search your website using voice commands. Thinking ahead: imagine eventually not having to touch a keyboard on a mobile device at all, whether they are trying to find information or complete an entire transaction.
2. Publishing and Marketing Short Answers
An unfortunate truth about small business marketing is that many are resource-constrained, leaving CMO’s and business owners with a bottom-line-driven mentality when it comes to web content. In other words, “if it isn’t going to immediately correlate to sales, don’t do it”.
Meanwhile, competitors are pumping out content like there’s no tomorrow, earning inbound links from others who reference that content, and now earning the coveted Position Zero in web search which often translates into the single answer that a Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri or Cortana enabled device will broadcast.
It’s the ambiguity of what to write, when to write and publish, and what to do after the content is live that has business owners hesitating and procrastinating on starting the process altogether.
Below is a fast-track content marketing action list for any business to get started with:
Combine similar questions into groups and don’t create redundant content
Create a marketing calendar (like this one) and publish one answer per week
Include rich media such as custom photographs or a short 1-2-minute video
Summarize the answer at the top of the page in under 375 characters (see 1st paragraph above)
Socialize the summary (verbatim) through social media and media-sharing platforms
Pick up Google Alerts to be notified when your question is asked online
Set a goal of 20 mentions of your short answer before considering the task “completed”
Measure traffic through web analytics, engagement via the calendar mentioned in #3, and inbound links through Google Search Console
3. Claiming Your Business with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
We recorded the amount of time it took to register our client’s business name within the Google Actions Console, and we were shocked to find that it took less than 5 minutes. We added a few simple questions that users might ask about the company and services, and then submitted it for review. Within 4 hours our client was up and running with a voice ‘bot’ that can answer common questions received by customer service personnel.
The entire process could be completed by anyone who is reasonably “web savvy” and does not require a programmer or a developer, unless advanced features are of interest, such as automated scheduling, event booking or transactions.
We found that the experience of going through this setup process often inspires curiosity into other ways a business can use Google Actions and Alexa Skills, and will immediately demystify voice search in general.
What Do We Know About How Users Interact with Assistants?
With the above three actions taken for a small business to immerse themselves into the world of voice search, it’s equally important to understand how users engage with these touch-free technologies. We invited 60 people in different demographic groups to participate in a study on how users interact with Google Home, Alexa, Siri and Cortana.
The goal was to understand the differences in searches performed with voice versus those made with a keyboard. Let’s briefly explore what we learned and discuss how to segment and measure who is coming in from a voice search versus a keyboard and how the interacted with website content.
Users preface their questions with the 5Ws when making a voice search (who, what where, when and why), they do not when using a keyboard.
Keyboard queries were shorter and more keyword-focused, voice searches were longer and more conversational
Questions asked to an assistant were more personalized, such as “how can I find X” versus “buy X online”.
Answers on voice often commanded a return response, versus a list of web results, such as a query for flights returning a response of “okay, when would you like to fly?”.
Many longer queries resulted in a response of “I’m sorry, I’m not able to do that yet” or “Sorry, I’m not sure how to help with that”, frustrating the searcher.
Segmenting a voice query from a keyboard query became nearly impossible after Google stopped sharing most of the query data in 2017:
We found that the simplest way to capture and segment voice vs non-voice query data is through downloading Google Search Console search terms at the URL-level, and then filtering any query that contains the 5Ws or that contained the use of “I’m”, “I”, “me”, or “my”.
How Do We Address User Needs on Voice?
With query segmentation in mind, using conversational headlines and subheadings is a simple solution for addressing voice. See an example below (before and after with location detection enabled):
Before: < h1 >Restaurants in Anaheim</ h1>
After: < h1 > Here are Our Restaurants in Anaheim Near You</ h1>
Based on our study, the best way to give users the answers they need on voice is to get them to interact with the voice bot associated with the company.
Try starting with a statement on every page of the website, perhaps with a collapsible mobile footer that says “Voice Your Question: Say “Okay Google, Talk to ABC Company”, allowing the user to untether themselves from the device and have pseudo-conversations using Voice Search.
Also consider using this type of language in advertisements and marketing initiatives, driving customers to the Voice experience and helping solve issues they have that might span beyond questions about the company, but more generalized questions about the industry or providing tips and strategies.
For example, “Okay Google, Talk to ABC Company”, followed by “What’s the difference between product type A and product type B?”. Doing so, makes us more helpful than our competitors and, as Google has mentioned, provides a more delightful user experience.
In summary, small businesses should stop being afraid of Voice Search, experiment with 3 methods of addressing voice described above, and start improving web copy by making headlines and subheadings more conversational. There’s so much more to explore in Voice, it just takes 5 minutes to crack the door open and start looking at the ways we can help users on Assistant and mobile-voice devices today and in preparation for a device-free search environment in years to come.