Avoiding Call To Action Errors – A Small Business Trends Infographic

Our friends at Small Business Trends, created an infographic that highlights how call to action (CTA) is sometimes not much of  a call and creates little action.  CTA is an essential component in analytics. CTA is what creates a click, and drives the purpose behind an analysis.  What traffic actually clicked? What’s the significance?

Moreover, CTA must be optimized.  The phrases used as a CTA are tested in A/B tests.  Improving CTA is linked to driving downloads of an app or purchases from a cart. And there are a lot of factors to what makes a CTA successful.

Take a look at the infographic below to learn how businesses drop the ball on CTA.  For more small business news, follow Small Business Trends.

Calls to Action Data

The difference between curation and content marketing

Ask any marketer, and they’ll say it without a moment’s hesitation. Content marketing is all the rage. It’s safe to guess that the internet is filled with an overabundance of content, to a point where content given with a strategy has become essential to marketing success .

But while interest in creating content is high, deciding how a business develop a strategy for curation should be equally high. Curation is important in sharing content relevant to your strategy or purpose online.

What’s the difference between curation and content strategy? To answer, let’s look at how curation and content are created differently to understand how they are managed differently.

First let’s look at how curation differs from content marketing. The difference lies in the details behind where the content is sourced. Those details dictate the value that the content provides for a digital strategy.

Content marketing is media created to generate brand awareness as the media is shared online. Each article written, every picture taken, or every video recorded is meant to implicitly support a topic of interest related to a business. Much of the value comes from the effort in creating a volume of content to create an impact for SEO.

For example long tail content is created based on constant analysis of a website against search patterns. The end result is that the media can draw links for SEO purposes, as well as creating new topic ideas that can leverage long tail discoveries when potential customers research on keywords of interest to your business.

Curation differs in where the content is sourced. It involves sharing content from other sources that have similar interest to that of your business.

Flipboard, Reverb, Networked Blog and Paper.li, are all tools which permit curation planning and execution. They are designed to share content automatically on your feed, be it social media or a blog. Because these tools share automatically, you must be meticulous in selecting content for quality related to the subjects of interest.

To be meticulous and to build an audience that makes your analytics worth measuring, keep your target audience in mind – know and appreciate the details about their interests. Content is a general term, but its sources do not have to be general. Using curation and content marketing techniques together will tie the effort around the subjects that are important to potential customers – and subjects which will establish your business as a resource worth doing business with.

For more ideas on refreshing content, take a look at this Zimana post on developing evergreen content.

You can also check out this DMNews post on planning content using Google Analytics reports.

How A Hackathon Improves A Marketer’s Tech Skills

This image from Instagram (http://ift.tt/1WygAEL) is my team, Team Public Cry, which participated in the 2016 IoTCivicHack at LaunchFishers in Fishers Indiana @attdevelopers

We hear the phrase Mar-tech in webinars and see it in posts everyday. But how does a marketer gain an appreciation for Mar-tech, especially when training budget for any marketer has been exhausted for the year?

One way is through participating in a hackathon. I should know – I participated in one, the AT&T Hackathon in April 2016. Through it I learned how hackathons offer valuable education time that rival the best paid training sessions or bootcamps.

A little background about the AT&T Hackathon: It was a 24 hour affair hosted at Launch Fishers in Fishers, an affluent suburb of Indianapolis. Launch Fishers had been in operation for a few years, and expanded that year to accommodate more entrepreneurs and startups.

The challenge for participants was to address a civic challenge, outlined by civic and business mentors. The goals was to build creative tech solutions that could help lawmakers, law enforcement and emergency services better understand and solve Indiana’s heroin and methamphetamine problems. The State Police Drug Lab and Marion County Emergency Services provided data related to the civic needs and services mentioned in the opening presentations, but participants were free to use data from many sources.

I cover two main benefits in this CMSWire post on the hackathon – you can read my experience there. Many of the lesson apply to developing a coherent customer experience.

So what else makes a hackathon so valuable for marketers?

For one thing, hackathons nourish an environment where you can ask questions and experiment with solutions without fear of being wrong, or even worst, ruining a budget. Developers are used to working with different frame works and experimenting with functionality into a functioning tool is established. Web development and programming can be plagued with a lot of trial and error, just like any other engineered product.

Another benefit of a hackathon is the fact that you can work with teams with a wide array of experiences. For example in my team for the AT&T hackathon I work with students from various Indiana universities. Some were majoring in marketing and business and others in computer science. I also met a student who was completing a software course through one of the new bootcamp programs such as General Assembly.

That diversity bring up another benefit; The value of humility. You recognize in a hackathon that you can not assume that you must have all the answers going in. Sometimes having part of the answer is important. For example I have been working with Meteor.JS, a JavaScript framework which includes client and server-side code that allows for one page apps to built and incorporate data easily. I have worked with a IDE call Cloud 9, but really had not develop a deep proficiency with developer code at the time.

It turned out during the hackathon that this skill gap did not matter. I collaborated with the other developers in the group to help figure out how to get the programming code to work and function correctly within the IDE. At the end of the hackathon we had some missteps, but we still had a relatively functioning app that we could describe and demonstrate.

The collaboration taught me that although preparation is important, such as having a working knowledge of frameworks, the true value from hackathons is determining how to deploy frameworks, especially within a given deadline.

Another aspect to note was that I was also among the older participants overall, let alone in my group. I was 47 at that time. But my age gave me an advantage of offering perspective on decisions that had to be made when the team met periodically in the development time allotted.

Hackathons can also help marketers understand what goes into the development process a lot more clearly than any words could ever express. Learning to work with cross-functional teams. Learning to leverage skill set that you have balanced with a curiosity to learn more can go a long way to make the hackathon experience enjoyable.

One personal revelation was discovering how much experience I could bring to others. After so many years marketers forget how their experience can help others. Twice I was asked by my younger members about what my experiences were in running an analytics company.

There are plenty of hackathons available for users to jump into. A hackathon does not have to be from within a college setting. ChicagoHack offers a weekly hackathon every Tuesday, in which developers from across the city to work with interested persons as well as provide a platform for learning of the latest data sources. Chicago, like many other cities , are leveraging open data to encourage developers to come up with apps that improve the quality of life in their communities.

Participation in hackathons or other groups blended with technical professionals can help marketers understand what’s going on in the real world without a lot of expense or extensive effort.

Tips To Improve Your WebSite (or Web App) Pages

Ok, so you are ready to update your website pages, or these days, a web-based app page. Well planning content is critical for making the most of your site pages. Here are several tips that should be included in refining a site or app page.

  • Layout a wireframe for a site – a wireframe needs to show how a page is laid out, so you can plan what is related to it.
  • Select content and images that tell how you will solve a problem,. not just your “life story” . It is good to know something about how a business is established for credibility, but keep stories to three paragraphs when starting out. And be ready to update your story over time.
  • Have a focal point of a page – an image that conveys what the site is ultimately about
  • Balance the white space – make sure that a pages does not crowd with a lot of text. People read differently online than they do offline.
  • Avoid using grey or any light-colors for fonts.  In many instances, words in dark definitive colors against a background is easier to read at a glance.
  • Remove flash pages – they are not only dated as of 2017 (and earlier), but flash pages also can hinder loading the key material visitors want to see on a page.  With mobile and tablets being the first tool used to view sites, a flash page can hinder mobile access if there is no mobile page….
  • ….Which, by the way, there should be a mobile page for your site. Make it with simple features, such as a simple bullet list of offered products/ services and a large button which users can click to dial to your store or office.
  • For showing important details on your business offers, ask designers how to highlight that information. Sometimes a slight contrast in the background can show importance
  • Despite better text editors and code frameworks, it is important to verify the appearance of webpage and web app pages appearance across browsers. To do so use Browsershots, an online site that checks pages for browser/site compatibility
  • Make sure there is a privacy statement indicating the use of analytics, where applicable, and how data is handled within your organization.
  • Consider examining how navigation usage occurs within a session that last 190 seconds (190 seconds is a typical average for a webpage). Note what is clicked and loaded easily within that time frame.
  • Decide on social media platform and memberships to be displayed – links, badges, and widgets that shows a window of the activity on that platform.  Sometimes these can add to page load time if the images are not optimized.
  • Plan footer content – the latest website designs have a footer that works across each page.  For apps consider what elements appear in the navigation – can any of it be arranged to simplify the loading of the app.
  • For websites, gather recommendations of products and service – show on a page or every page where possible.

Finally, remember to optimize for search engines – i.e. use SEO to rank your site in a search query.  Without this, your website has not guidance for search or even for a paid search marketing plan.

The most critical mistake with websites is to make delays to deliver your content to a developer or designer – more than a few months to code and finalize function can be problematic for your designer to organize and revise code with quality. Those delays can also cost your business sales, because your business’ updating of a site reflects how well it is operating.  Gather essential changes so you can share your concerns upfront, and make any changes in an organized fashion.

Good Starter Questions for Organizing an A/B Test

A/B testing and optimization does not always sound like a sexy subject to talk with someone (if that someone is not an analytics practitioner). Neither is going to the dentist for some people.
But just as people do make an appointment with a dentist, managers need to make an appointment with their analytics teams to understand what content and app features are working to attract customers.  Thus managers need to have discussions about testing and optimization plans.
In starting discussions about testing and optimization,  a few simple questions are worth asking.
  • What testing is needed in the overall digital strategy? What website elements, qualities or user actions are repeatable to warrant testing and optimization?  These questions highlight what the test is meant to accomplish – essential asking “What is the test for?” The questions also highlight what element in a website or app is being questioned.
  • Which internal organization owns the Testing / Optimization process? In short, who is running the test and responsible for the reporting?
  • How can this testing support the analytical needs of the marketing campaign?  In other words, how does this support a goal for the organization?
  • What obstacles hinder testing?  What resources are needed?
Consider the following as those thought-starter questions that can lead to a healthy discussion and decisions on how to best approach a digital presence for an organization.