Category Archives: Digital Marketing Strategy

4 E-Commerce Web Design Tips to Increase Sales

You’ve made it through half of the battle (and for some the hardest part): A visitor arrived at your e-commerce website. Now you need to get them to buy. There are a lot of things that go into increasing conversions but design is perhaps the most important.

Most of us would agree that we buy things that look great. Many times the design of a website is the first impression that we receive of a company. Good or bad, the design can influence your subconscious opinion of the product or service you’re considering purchasing. So, how can you ensure that the opinion formed is a good one and how can you use your design to help convert visitors to customers?

Make Sure Your Design Enhances Rather than Distract

Create a clean design with simple lines that does not distract away from the products you are selling. A great example of this is www.restorationhardware.com. You will notice in the image below that the website design is clean and simple. Some would even argue boring. The site design however accentuates the products they are selling.

Clean Design Example

In contract, the image below is of a complex design that in most cases people would see as a great design. However, it distracts your eye from the products they sell.

Busy Design Example

Utilize Large Hi-Resolution Images

Apple has implemented this beautifully over the past few years and now other e-commerce retailers have started to follow suite.  With that said Apple has a limited number of products so it works. A company that has 10,000 products should not try to display products like apple.com.

Apple Design Example

Still, even if you have many products, there is something to be learned from Apple’s approach. Apple teaches us that displaying your products using large hi-resolution photos increases audience engagement. Gone are the days when a straight on, blurry shot of your product will do. Your customers want the photography to put them in front of the product. They want to feel an experience. Product photography can often times be over looked in an effort to make a great looking site.  Don’t let that happen to you.

Incorporate Testimonials & Trust Factors into Your Design

Along with the need for a clean website that enhances your products. It is important for you to convey the experience and service that sets you apart from your competition. Using testimonials and trust factors such as phone number, business hours, social media icons, customer service guarantees, etc. is an effective way to gain your customers confidence and trust.

customer testimonial

Add Value Elements in the Header

These elements are anything that adds value to the customer’s purchase. They can be Promotional Deals, Free Shipping or anything else considered to be a perk or add-on. Even if everything else is right, the promise of something for free or something a little extra, when used strategically and when it’s affordable for your company, can go a long way to helping convert a visitor. Just make sure that this isn’t the only tactic you rely on. Free shipping is only great if, when the product gets there, it’s great too. Otherwise it’s just a gimmick.

musicians friend

What other ideas do you have for improving sales through your e-commerce web design? Tell me in the comments!

Maximizing E-Commerce Checkout: Less is More

Checkout is one of the most critical components of your e-commerce website’s experience.  No matter how well you convince customers to buy your product, when it comes down to it, the checkout process can turn away even the most determined customers if it’s done poorly.  Maximizing the checkout process is a HUGE topic, so in order to make this digestible, I’ll focus on one benefit at a time.

Less is More

amazonHave you ever noticed how bland Amazon’s checkout process is from a design perspective?  That’s because Amazon, more than anyone, knows that a critical component of a shopping conversion is to keep the customer laser-focused on the task at hand.  The task, in this case, is to click the glittering “Process Order” button on the last checkout page.  This is what the eCommerce game is all about.

So, what does a bland checkout process have to so with conversion rate?  Simple; it removes any distractions that might provoke a customer to stray from completing checkout.  But how can we identify those distractions so that we don’t remove something beneficial?

Generally speaking, anything that does not contribute directly to the checkout experience should be removed.  Those things might include:

  • Site Navigation – Don’t tempt customers to click a link that might pull them out of the checkout process.  They’ve made it this far so they’re committed to buying.  We want them to buy above all else!
  • Excessive Design Elements – Your company logo, borders around content containers, and consistent global styles (fonts, colors, etc.) are all you really need to brand the checkout experience.  We want this to be clean and clear, so declutter any extra images, backgrounds, bright colors, rotating gifs, and unicorns that are currently designed in.  The buttons to continue should be far and away the biggest eye-candy on the page.
  • View Cart Buttons – There’s no reason to give them a link to the shopping cart when they’re already passed the shopping cart step.
  • Promotions/Coupons – They’ve already committed to purchasing the products in their cart at the current price.  Don’t provoke the customer to scour the web looking for a coupon code.  Ask for coupons on the shopping cart (but do it with subtlety!)
  • Legal Jargon – Minimize the legal disclaimers you put in front of a customer.  If legally necessary, put all of your legalese in a popup window that the customer must opt-into reading by clicking on a link.  We don’t want to frighten customers with a heavy legal hand.  We should be seen as protecting the customer, not ourselves.
  • Links Back to Products – While showing the cart contents to the customer on the review order step, do NOT link those products back to the product detail page.  They’ve already learned enough about the product to start the purchasing process, and offering a link back to the product might lose you a customer.

This is just a short list of the many things we all may have in our checkout processes that are doing more harm than good.  Share any questions you have about ways to improve your cart in the comments.

Does Parallax Scrolling Affect Online Marketing Efforts?

Have you ever visited a site such as Spotify where the background appears to be moving? The Spotify site along with others have started using a method called Parallax scrolling to add more visual appeal to their pages. In this article I hope to explain some of the effects that Parallax scrolling has on SEO efforts.

What Is Parallax Scrolling?
Parallax scrolling is an effect that is produced by using a script to tell the background image to scroll at a slower rate than the page content. Parallax scrolling has become more and more popular over the past few years and for good reason; if done correctly, it can add depth and dimension to your site. While this method of development is very eye catching, we as an online marketing agency have had some questions about the affect that it has on Search Engine Optimization.

Using Spotify as my example, I’ve explored five fundamentals of optimization and how Parallax affects each one.

Parallax Scrolling Example

Page URLs
Page URLs are an important place to insert keywords relating to that page. It is important that these URLs are different for every page of your site. You will notice that when you click here to view the upgrade page on Spotify.com, that the URL remains the same as the homepage. This means that Google recognizes this site as containing only one page. With that said Spotify has a robust help section located at http://support.spotify.com. The pages that are part of this support section all have separate URLs but since the domain is http://support.spotify.com the actual domain of http://spotify.com is not getting credit for those pages. That is STRIKE ONE!

Header Tags (H1 Tags)
Header Tags like URLs are a place to add keywords that help the viewer to understand what content that given page will contain. The current best practice is that each page should only use one H1 tag. As discussed above in the URLs section we know that Google only recognizes this site as one page. That means that this single page contains 7x H1 tags. STRIKE TWO!

Page Titles
Page titles are an integral element in an effective SEO strategy. Like URLs, page titles should contain keywords pertaining to the content on that given page. If we look at the Spotify example we see that Google recognizes the entire http://spotify.com website as being one page. This means that Spotify only has space to create one page title. It also means that there is only one page that can show up in organic search results. This is STRIKE THREE!

Meta Descriptions
We have already given this development method three strikes however we have to finish this analysis. Meta descriptions are the last piece of this test. Meta descriptions, also known as page descriptions show up under the page title in organic search results. While Meta descriptions arguably have little effect in organic search rankings they are still important to have. They are important because they provide the potential site visitor with information about what the page is about. At TKG we also like to add a call to action in the description as well. Like the other three fundamental elements of SEO that we looked at above, we recognize that Spotify.com can only have one page description for the entire site due to Google viewing the site as one page. That’s STRIKE FOUR!

Content
Perhaps the most important part of your site is the content that is actually on the page. This content can be in the form of images and text. The current trend is to make eye catching image driven websites that contain little text elements. While eye catching this presents and issue for SEO. Google cannot crawl images unless there is text associated with them. So therefore if a site is primarily images Google does not recognize most of the content on the site.

The other issue that often arises is that sites that are primarily image based take a long time to load. In most instances Google robots will time out before they reach all of the content on your site because they have to wait for it to load. STRIKE FIVE, alright I think we have to say you’re out now.

Conclusion?
Parallax scrolling is a gorgeous effect that is becoming more and more popular. However, building a site using parallax prevents the site from being optimized using five of the most fundamental methods of optimization. As parallax scrolling becomes more and more popular, we expect there to be more ways to optimize the content.

Next week I tackle the question: Is it ever OK to use parallax scrolling on your site?

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Using Video as Content

Did you know that by the year 2017, a Cisco study says 69% of all consumer web traffic will be to access video content? Here are three things you didn’t know about using video as content to help you prepare for the future of video.Video Content

  1. Customers are more likely to buy after seeing a video. A recent study from the Web Video Marketing Council and Flimp Media shows that video embedded in an email can be a very persuasive. Some stats from the study:
  • 88% report that email with integrated video improves overall campaign performance
  • 76% acknowledged that video generates high click-through rates
  • 72% believe that prospective clients are more likely to buy after viewing video content sent via an email.
  1. The concept of “show and tell” is still very much a part of who we are. If we see it, we are more likely to believe. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to watch a video than read a report or a case study. Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report illustrates this concept in a big way by showing that most North American small businesses and big brands are focusing on video as the critical content marketing element for their future branding efforts.
  1. Human connection sells, and it sells well. People like to see a face, hear a voice and connect with the emotion of the person or people in a video. There is a reason YouTube gets over one billion views per month; even in this super tech world, we are still looking for that human-to-human connection, even if it is just on the screen. Showing the people or causes behind your company is a compelling way to differentiate yourself from your competition.

What are your favorite ways to use video content? Tell us in the comments!
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How to Create Engaging Video Content that Gets Results

You’ve probably watched more than your share of video content on the Web. What is it that keeps you coming back for more? We’re not talking about the endless array of cat videos on YouTube, though we’ve laughed at our share of those, too. We’re talking about videos that tell a story, share an experience or explain a new product.Engaging Video Content

Because of the way Google and YouTube measure traffic for video, (the viewer has to watch for eight seconds to be considered as one view); you must grab attention quickly, then continue to deliver compelling, watchable content.

Follow these tips on how to create compelling video content that will have your audience watching and engaging with you and your business.

  1. Understand your key message(s) before filming. Break up information into bite size pieces and deliver it in a fresh and relatable way. Whether you’re delivering straight to camera in a “video diary” format, or creating something more complex, the audience should walk away knowing exactly what you were trying to say or show.
  2. Add music for enhanced impact. Music can be an engaging addition to your video, and can help add an emotional appeal to your message. Websites like audiojungle.com allow users to search and purchase music affordably for video.
  3. Vary the view. Secondary footage, B-roll or even photos can really help keep your audience’s attention. Software like iMovie or Celtx allows even those with basic editing skills to storyboard a script ahead of time, so that it’s easy to “drop” images or footage into your video.
  4. Tell a story. Storytelling is a powerful tool in video. Know your audience well, and tell them a story that specifically relates to their interests and needs.
  5. Categorize information. Think in terms of main categories or “buckets” when planning your overall content strategy for video. Categories might include:
    • About videos, which convey who you are as a company or as individuals (e.g. a profile on an employee who has been with the company for over 25 years)
    • Demonstration videos, which showcase a product or service (e.g. a 30 second overview of how a new machine works)
    • Education videos, which teach viewers a new skill related to your industry or niche (e.g. a garden center would explain how to get a perfect lawn)
    • Testimonial videos, which would highlight great reviews or stories about your business from actual customers or clients (e.g. a happy family who has benefitted from your services)
  6. Include a promise or a benefit for your viewers, and then show how you deliver. For example, in a short video about excellent customer service, show how one of your agents went the extra mile for a customer.
  7. Keep it short! 15-30 seconds is plenty of time to deliver short information or snippets, 60-90 seconds can show a product in a new and interesting way, and three minutes is the perfect length to tell a story in a “mini-documentary” style. This is the Web, after all, so think in terms of easy-to-view, shareable content that anyone could watch during a lunch break or quick free moment.
  8. Create a series. If viewers liked the first video, they will come back for more. A series is a great way to create repeat traffic, as well as unique traffic from sources that have linked to your original video. Blendtec has been remarkably successful on YouTube for their “Will it Blend” series, which is widely considered one of the first uses of video content marketing on the Web.
  9. Use strong Calls to Action. Your content is great…but make sure it compels viewers to act. Whether you simply want them to view a unique landing page on your site, ask them to do so, both at the end of your video and in the description below (if hosting the video on YouTube).

So there you have it, folks…your recipe to video content greatness. We’d love to see your examples of your favorite videos…send us a link in the comments!

Why Aren’t You Using Videos in Your Business?

Chances are, in the last week you’ve viewed a video online. Maybe it was simply a baby laughing or a kitten having its first bowl of milk.

You’ve also very likely viewed at least one video recently created by a business to either tell you more about themselves, let you know more about a product, or sell you a story about their brand.

youtubeThat’s because these businesses know that using video is an incredibly smart and savvy way to engage consumers at every step of the sales process. They know and understand the numbers and facts, like that YouTube is the number two search platform (right after Google) or that data shows that humans can’t resist looking at things in motion.

But even deeper than the statistics is the fact that video can be an incredibly powerful–and even affordable–way to add yet another poignant touchpoint to your customers’ experience with your business and brand online.

Here are a few reasons to consider video for your business.

1. Easily Consumable Information

Many people report preferring to watch video rather than reading text, and data shows that when video is present, visitors spend more time on page than if there’s simply copy. Even more importantly, businesses can give a lot of information in a very short amount of time, which can:

  • Save time overall
  • Shorten a learning curve
  • Make better use of your staff’s time

For example, using video as a part of the sales process to demo a product or service not only saves time in verbally explaining a process, it allows your sales team to spend more time on building relationships.

2. Content Over “Quality”

Truly, there is no medium that favors the right kind of content over the quality of the production like video. Most YouTube videos, in fact, are taken with phones or point and shoot cameras. Even more interestingly, the top 100 YouTube channels feature mostly individual users–not brands–who typically don’t have huge budgets to produce video.

But they “win” by producing great content that’s relatable. The lesson? Even if you don’t have a Red Bull sized budget for video content marketing, you can do video content marketing.

3. Easy Multiple Device Viewing

We throw around the term “responsive design” a lot, to mean that websites need to be able to be viewed easily on multiple devices. Video is a great responsive tool that is consumable on mobile, tablets, laptops and desktops. Plus, with consumers using mobile devices more than ever to access the Web, forget them scrolling through endless amounts of text on a page to learn more about you.

4. Multiple Touchpoints for Conversion

Each video is an opportunity to extend a conversation with a viewer or customer, either through a Call to Action at the end of the video, links to landing pages a video’s description, or annotations in the video itself on YouTube. Other e-commerce video platforms, like Cinematique, allow viewers to buy a product directly from the video in which its being demonstrated.

Videos can be linked to or embedded in multiple places on multiple platforms, allowing you to reach your consumers where they are, and when they want to consume information. Each view is a touchpoint about your brand, service or product, and helps to build the overall experience with your company.

5. Enhanced Search Opportunities

Google really likes video, and makes it easier than ever for companies to rank higher in search with well-optimized titles, tags and descriptions. Video appears in around 70% of the top Google listings, and provides a more visual search experience for your customers when you choose compelling thumbnail images.

Video isn’t going anywhere, and, in fact, is being adopted more and more by companies as consumers demand more easily consumable custom content. And with studies showing numbers like a 70% bump in email click through rates when video is used, or a 44% increase in conversions when a product is demonstrated on video, it is a savvy investment for small to mid-sized businesses.

And the investment is really the main reason to use video in your business; it’s one of the most effective ways to easily “play with the big boys.” Everyone has a decent video camera these days, and even without a giant budget, businesses can use a little creativity and a little time to create a better overall experience for customers.

So…why aren’t you using videos in your business?

How a Killer Case Study Can Drastically Improve Your Business

Nobody likes a sleazy sales pitch, right?

I don’t know about you, but my mind instantly jumps to the tacky car salesman willing to sell you a lemon at any cost. Chances are, you can spot them ‑ and their sordid tales ‑ a mile away.

So when it comes to sales of any kind ‑ and standing out among the crowd ‑ it’s important to build a reputation for quality and results. No pitching. No sleazy tactics.

Case studies are absolutely the way to get there. You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. But bear with me a minute.

Let’s say a client comes to you with a problem that they need a partner to help them solve. What could be more effective than to show the client ‑ in a very real and visible way ‑ the amazing results you have gotten for another client in a similar project? No need to be sales-y (or sleazy), just let your results do the talking for you.

It takes effort, sure, but isn’t your reputation worth it? Consider it the difference between real-life results and just smoke and mirrors.

Take a look at one of TKG’s own SEO case studies. One of our clients, Combi, turned to us with the goal of increasing the number of leads and conversions on their website. We went to work and were able to exceed their expectations.

Here’s how their results look in a graphic from our case study:

Combi Case Study

Seeing that TKG was able to obtain a 74% increase in leads is impressive no matter how you cut it.

If you are a business similarly looking to increase your leads and we whip out this graphic and tell you about this client’s story of success, doesn’t that say it all? In a very real way, you know nearly everything you need to know about us, most importantly that we know how to get results. Sign me up.

It’s a win-win. You put the focus on results while showcasing your clients and drastically improving your business. From there, it’s up to you to follow through and make sure the promised results come to fruition.

After all, maybe you could use them in your next case study.

Writing Your Business Case Study: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Start

So you’re convinced. You know you need to create a solid case study for your business ‑ and soon. But where do you start?Case Study

It can seem to be a daunting task from the outset, but it’s definitely worth the time invested. Before you dig in, here are 5 things you need to know about creating your case study:

1.   Set a goal
It sounds so simple, but knowing your end-goal will absolutely make your case study stronger. Truly. Have a specific plan for how you want to use it and how you’ll be able to leverage it for your business. Focus on your goal throughout the entire creation of your case study and make sure it remains central to how you organize, build and execute your plan.

2.   It’s not about you
Really, it’s not. As much as it seems like a case study is created just to showcase how awesome your business is (and, of course, it is) – consider this as an opportunity to put the spotlight on your clients. Making your clients look amazing is only going to reflect well on your business. In the end, your business shines best through the results of your clients.

3.   Be visual
Word-people can fall into the trap of crafting amazing content that no one will ever read. Heartbreaking, I know. The most effective case studies are very visual, using infographics, photos, and well-displayed quotes to get their message out. As important as words are, they need to be blended with great visuals in order to get your message across effectively. Using great visuals will guide potential clients through the rest of the content and ultimately lead to a better understanding. Keeping visuals in mind from the start will guide the rest of your case study process.

4.   Tell a story
Case studies need to be about how real people got real results from your services. Guide them through it. Choose things to feature that are relatable and use them to tell a story. Be specific and give meaningful details. A case study is the perfect opportunity to engage and start an interaction between your business and a potential client. Using it to relate to your audience and connect with them will ultimately make it an effective case study.

5.   The KISS method (Keep it simple, …)
It’s true, simplicity is the key. Before you start gathering every piece of data you’ve got to include in building your case study, remember that you won’t be able to use that much of it. Pare it down early in your organization process to your focus can remain on the key elements that accomplish your goal. When it comes time to pull it all together to make an effective case, you’ll be grateful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on best practices for creating new case studies, let us know what you think in the comments! Also, look for our next post soon on our February series on case studies: How a Killer Case Study Can Drastically Improve Your Business.

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Demystified: What’s a Case Study and Why Should Your Business Care?

You’ve probably heard the buzz about how important case studies are to your business, but do you really know what a case study is?

A case study examines a client’s current problem and illustrates how your business proposed solutions and delivered results for that client in an effective way.

OK, that sounds a little stuffy. Let’s put it simply: Case studies show how real people get real results from your services. It really doesn’t get any bigger than that when it comes to an effective way to market your business. Well done, your case study becomes the most powerful tool you have in telling the story of your business and connecting with potential clients. It clearly articulates the effectiveness of your work – so it’s easy for your customers to see and know your value and see how you might be able to work for them. First-person testimonials included in case studies also provide instant social proof of your work.

Once a good case study is made, it not only becomes valuable proof of your successes, but also invaluable social content for you to use in your marketing. We aren’t talking about marketing fluff here ‑ we’re talking about true measured results that make a real business impact and allow you to showcase your work.

Pretty incredible, isn’t it?

It is; and it’s why we take case studies pretty seriously here at TKG. We use them as a content strategy because we know they can help our clients tell their story and illustrate their capabilities in a real-world way. In that same way, we rely on them to tell our own story as well. We don’t promote gimmicks or ploys often used by some in the SEO industry. Why would we, when we have a trove of measured results to showcase? We think our case studies speak for themselves.

For example, check out our SEO success story of Spangler Candy – the maker of Dum Dums. Spangler leveraged our content marketing and SEO services to grow their e-commerce sales year after year.Spangler Candy Case Study

With that kind of success, why wouldn’t you want to use a case study to grow your business? Your results speak volumes about your business. Put them into a case study and let them work for you. We’d love to hear your results.

Too Damn Many Websites

As industries develop and go through their normal business cycles, we often see consolidation.  Usually, larger more successful companies in an industry gobble up the smaller niche businesses or simply the weaker ones to gain their client base.

We are seeing something similar right now in our business, in a different way though.  Many companies are realizing that they have too many websites.  They are victims of how cheap and easy it can be to “throw a quick website together” and are now coming to their senses.  I can’t tell you how many companies we come across that have 4, 6, 8 websites, none with a real strategy behind them to create success much less measure it.

One can only guess at the causes for this, here are a few of my favorites:

  • BudgetAd Agency Web Strategy: multiple websites = limitless opportunity for creative.  Fun, yes.  Profitable no.
  • Nephew Marvin syndrome:  It’s exciting to experiment with a few different open source solutions, why not try them all, they are free after all?
  • Budget:  When it’s time to expand, it can seem cheaper to add a second site rather than fix the core problem.
  • Good Domains:  Sometimes you register such a great domain, you just have to do something with it!

I’m not suggesting that there is never a strategic reason to have 2 or more websites for a given company.  I’m just suggesting that you should never start that next site without a strategic reason.  And “It’s cheaper, It’s easier, etc.” don’t count as strategic reasons.  The internet has more than enough bad websites.  Don’t become part of the problem.

It has always been my opinion that you shouldn’t build a site for the sake of having a site.  There should be a strategic reason to build the site and a plan for ROI, no matter how low the perceived cost is.

We are currently in the middle of at least 4 strategy projects where we are helping – primarily manufacturers – consolidate their web efforts.  Most of them have 3 to 6 sites, one for each “brand” they manufacture.  Almost all of those sites are out-dated, un-finished and lack strategy all together.  But boy is the creative nice.  In almost every case, they will be much further ahead within a year with one professional site and online marketing strategy that is actually executed and measured on an ongoing basis.

If you’ve fallen for one of the issues above, and have 2 or more half-hearted websites, we’d love to hear your story.
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