Elevate your Marketing Career with One Simple Word: Strategy

Not everyone can say that within 4 years, they went from being an individual contributor to the VP of a billion dollar company. McLean Donnelly can.

How did he do it? As someone with a design background, you might expect the answer was jaw-dropping designs. But that is only part of the magic. It is the well-paired designs with outstanding business cases that propelled Donnelly’s career forward. And, his ability to grow the talent he manages, the product he sells and the bottomline.

So, how did he get there? In his Digital Marketing Summit presentation on Tuesday, Donnelly shared what he learned through his MBA, adding “business IQ” to his repertoire of design skills. Here are the three areas he suggested you can grow in – with or without an MBA.

#1 – Learn the Math

Even if you haven’t taken a math class since 10th grade, you can still learn the “business math,” as Donnelly called it. Buy your accountant a burrito for lunch one day or check out a quick course from Khan Academy and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can learn.

  • Income Statement: Understand the basics on an income statement. It is the blueprint of understanding a business model. And, don’t just focus on the revenue sources. If you can find opportunities to reduce cost, you can drive profit just as quickly. For instance, at Expedia, Donnelly learned if a customer spent more than X seconds on a customer service phone call, the company began losing money. Opportunity? I’d say.
  • Statistics: Get the hang of statistics. And it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. For instance, in Google Analytics, you’ll find your eCommerce conversion rate = the # of visitors / the # of conversions. Really dig into the data, question it. Once you have a solid understanding of statistics and the income statement, you can take this business math to the next step:
  • Building Models: Identify the business case before even working on a specific design opportunity (writer’s note: apply this train of thought to every marketing tactic to drive stellar strategy). Then, build a model to test your designs against metrics that lead to ROI. And to get started, keep in mind a quick Google search will find you free design templates for testing revenue models.

#2 – Execute on a Strategy

Backed by a strong business case, you can now be strategic in the tactics you’re implementing. Donnelly cited Michael Porter’s – the Lebron of business – definition of strategy:


The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. @McLeanDonnelly
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All too often in business we get caught up on what we’re supposed to do or what was in the plan. Constantly stepping back to reassess “why” and determine what not to do will drive results more quickly.

To help us execute on strategy, Donnelly took us through his favorite creative approach – Human Centered Design. Human Centered Design is a design and management framework that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. Here are the four pillars Donnelly covered:

  • Find the emotional connection: Every brand experience has an opportunity for an emotional connection. Find yours. Help your team figure out customers‘ emotional connection to your brand by mapping a customer journey collage. At Shutterstock, Donnelly’s team brings in customers to share what they want to feel at each stage of the journey. When they’re designing that photo book, they want the warm fuzzies, whereas while they are about to check out, they want to trust the site’s security and speed of product delivery.
  • Solve for the users‘ worries/problems: Look for honest, constructive dialog from your customers about your product and company. Easy place to find it? On social media. Value that input rather than worry too much about the negative feedback. You can address it and learn from it.
  • Talk to your customers: No, seriously. Talk to them. “If you’re not having actual face to face convos with your customers, you’re not going to succeed” CTT See how their voice and facial expressions change when they talk about each interaction with your brand. Customers can’t just be data points in Google Analytics.
  • Find your signature experience: Figure out what is unique about your brand. Eye glasses shopping once took place in a store where you snapped a photo of yourself and texted your friends for input. Today, you can have your top frame picks delivered to your door, and make an evening of the experience, gathering friends and sipping on cocktails. Donnelly highly recommends leveraging the Northstar Workshop to drive these insights. Gather team members from every department in one room to foster an open conversation and create a sense of investment in the customers‘ problems you are solving for. You can set this type of meeting at a regular cadence, or like some organizations, work in SCRUM 100% of the time.

#3 – Empower Your Team

Empowering his team is what really got Donnelly started down the path of getting his MBA. “When I got my first report, it’s when I realized how much I love being a manager. Getting my MBA was a way to scale my passion for management. I am now better able to help grow talent and the organization as a whole,” Donnelly explained.

Posted at his desk, Donnelly’s daily inspiration are Dr. Edward Deming’s 14 points. “It has been transformational in how I think as a manager,” Donnelly shared. Dr. Deming was a visionary in empowering employees. He believed “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” Often called the father of LEAN, Deming advocated process reduction and a push toward individual ownership.


I can tell you first hand, allowing for individual ownership is how you succeed. @McLeanDonnelly
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Here are Donnelly’s favorites from Deming’s 14 points:

  • Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  • Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place. Mass inspection is not scalable, not empowering and just doesn’t work. Put quality back on the worker, giving them that ownership.
  • Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

Add Strategy to Your Work Today

Do you sometimes feel like you’re going through the motions, executing marketing tactic after tactic? Take a step back today, huddle with your cross-functional team and ensure you’re on point with WHY. Use your newfound business IQ to inform your tactics and in Michael Porters‘ words, take the time to “Choose what not to do.”

What should you stop doing at work today?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Elevate your Marketing Career with One Simple Word: Strategy | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Elevate your Marketing Career with One Simple Word: Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Why site speed is as important as ever on the visual web

In 2017 there has been a lot of focus around the impending mobile-first index and serving content through HTTPS. But there have also been two other important unfashionable topics lingering in the shadows: cybersecurity and site speed.

Since 2010, Google have publicly acknowledged that they take into account page load speed and site speed, and with tools like Page Speed Insights (along with a number of other third party solutions) we’ve been able to monitor and analyse our seconds.

However, balancing a quick page load speed and a great user experience hasn’t always been easy. As the internet has become a more and more important part of our daily lives, our online experience has evolved and we (as users) prefer much more visual content.

Big visuals also mean big image files, video files and potentially a lot of JS and CSS to fancy up the written text. This also means that there is more to load, therefore increasing load speed.

The reason that this is becoming more of an issue is because in 2015 mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in a number of verticals, and mobile users browse everywhere; when they’re on the Wi-Fi at home, at work or using roaming data on the go. Users are noticing slow-loading pages; which means Google have noticed users noticing slow loading pages – and now Facebook has noticed slow-loading pages.

Identifying site speed issues

At the moment, with the noise surrounding mobile responsiveness and HTTPS, a lot of webmasters and development teams are being overwhelmed with changes. It’s also worth remembering that not everyone runs modern stacks or has a clean website; there are still a lot of big websites on legacy platforms.

That being said, there are a number of checks you can carry out that could make a big difference to your page load speed by refactoring your code.

JavaScript Libraries

I’ve encountered a number of websites that run big JavaScript libraries that aren’t used on a lot of pages, but they still have to load on every page.

Making excessive calls to a large amount of unnecessary JavaScript and CSS files slows down the overall page load speed.

You could move all of these code elements towards the end of the code, meaning they are called last. This would only really impact the user if you’re using dynamic phone numbers that change an element through JavaScript, but the flicker is often only a twentieth of a second and minimal.

Image optimization

Images and graphics play a big role in both delivering the message of the content and improving the user experience on a website. Getting rid of images isn’t viable, but compressing their file sizes is.

In some scenarios, the delivery of the images could also be optimized. If your images are quite far down a piece of content, utilize lazy-load solutions or even better, utilize a CDN like Cloudflare or Amazon CloudFront.

System fonts

Another (and slightly less common) solution to improving page load speed is to utilize system fonts.

System fonts are the fonts that come pre-installed on your device. These are great options as they don’t have to be loaded, you simply call the system fonts in your CSS. That being said, choosing a system font can be tricky.

System fonts generally fall into two categories, optimized for screen and optimized for print. The main difference between these fonts is the detail. The only other issue with choosing a system font is that they are really over-exposed.

As every computer and device in the world (near enough) has them, they are not unique; so if typography is important to your brand, use custom fonts. But if Helvetica, Garamond or Seravek will do, use them.

Is AMP really the solution?

I couldn’t go through his whole article without mentioning AMP. AMP allows webmasters to create their slow, heavy pages but essentially serve their content through a new AMP page, that canonicals back to the original slow page.

Accelerated Mobile Pages seems on the surface to be an easy solution, especially for the big content publishers. But it’s not really a solution to the problem, more papering over the cracks.

What made these big sites slow and heavy in the first place is often tied very closely to how they generate revenue, advertising. Big banner adverts, banners spliced into content, overlays, auto play videos in the sidebars (yuck), all there to get your view and edge the website ever closer to another CPM payday.

With AMP, you don’t get to do it to the same extent and will lose out on potential revenue and ad views. How content is formatted is also very controlled, and the fact that Google hosts the content makes it a weird position to put the content publisher in.

Google is obviously willing publishers to utilize AMP and take advantage of the ranking benefits (AMP v non-AMP), but it still an odd situation to be in. A lot of webmasters have migrated to AMP as they manage large web properties that command a lot of traffic, but not because it is a logical business sense to do so, but because they are too afraid not to while their competitors make the move.

AMP is the right move for a number of websites, but I would assess all options first to speed up your website before boarding the AMP ship.

In conclusion

Producing a modern website that works for both SEO and users is not easy. It requires a lot of careful technical planning and development to ensure it contains useful, valuable content; that it’s secure; that it works on mobile; and that it’s fast.

Site speed can often be overlooked as a lesser priority, but it’s an extremely important part of the quartet. There are a number of free ways to test your site speed as well, and a lot of them provide good guidance on how to fix a lot of the issues.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Using Audio to Engage in a Connected World #DSMPLS

Have you ever heard a song in the morning, only to have it stubbornly stick in your head all day long, even though you don’t care for it?

Of course you have. It happens to all of us, and there’s a clear explanation for it.

“People remember things via audio signal better, longer, and stronger than when they see visually,” said Gabe Tartaglia in his presentation at Digital Summit Minneapolis: Engaging in a Connected World with the Power of Audio.

The field of neuroscience is increasingly measuring and shedding light on this phenomenon. Today’s marketer needs to be paying attention.

The Screenless Revolution

In his role as Vice President of National Vertical Sales for Pandora, Tartaglia has an inherent interest in this dynamic. And here’s why he believes it matter to all of us: “We are entering the age of voice.”

To back up this suggestion, he points to research from Accenture illustrating the growing adoption of voice-enabled devices among younger demographics:

Image Source: Voicebot

The proliferation of IoT, and the advent of screenless platforms, mean people are increasingly interacting with media in non-visual ways. As you look ahead, are you mapping this into your strategies?

Speaking to Your Audience

There are a number of ways that advertisers can leverage these changing trends to better engage people, and Tartaglia called out a few.

As one example, he played a Starbucks commercial for streaming services that seamlessly dropped in user variables like time of day, weather, day of week, and location in order to create an ultra-relevant experience that resonated.

“All of a sudden that ad is speaking directly to you,” he said. “It’s almost kind of creepy, but it’s effective, because it’s customized.”

Welcome to the future.

Searching for a Voice

One other key takeaway from the evolution of media consumer habits? Voice search is becoming a force we cannot ignore.

As Search Engine Land explored recently, “the impact of voice search on B2B SEO is inevitable.” As devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home become more mainstream, and as voice-to-text tools on smartphones become more accurate, an entire generation is growing up with these routines ingrained.

Marketers should ensure they are cognizant of this new reality.

“Is there usable content in your site that search engines will actually pick up?” Tartaglia asked. “If Alexa or Siri or whatever doesn’t know how to find you because the content does not live in a voice platform, even the best brands are going to be missing out.”

There’s a piece of guidance worth getting stuck in your head.

Want More From #DSMPLS?

You can follow us on @toprank for live tweets from the conference and visit toprankblog.com for additional coverage.


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Source:: toprankblog.com

Taming the Wild Wild West of Social Media Digital Reputation #DSMPLS

In the Wild, Wild West of Social Media Digital Reputation, employees create social accounts without governance. But, are they on brand?

At the Digital Summit Minneapolis, #DSMPLS, Casey Hall,Thomson Reuters, shared a process for taming the horses and adding governance to the stable.

The Audit

Start by searching your company name and all variations of it, says Hall. You can use a simple spreadsheet or a database to keep track of the channel name, followers, last activity, link and log if there were any brand issues.

Once you have found all the rogue channels, you need to determine if it is a relevant channel or if it needs to move to the takedown.

The Takedown

If possible, find the employee and ask them to take down the account. If that is not possible, try messaging the account. Hall found many times the person who owned the channel would take down the channel before they had any more correspondence.

If needed, you can try to recover the password by submitting a ticket to the platform, and if the account was started with an official corporate email, it is often recoverable. Hall recommended contacting their representative at the channel helped expedite the takedown.

Best Practices

Give people training and they be open to following the rules says Hall. Thomson Reuters created a Digital Oversight Committee to review best practices and provide training. The oversight committee included representatives from –

  • Social leads
  • Creative
  • Brand
  • Legal/Privacy
  • Digital Leads
  • Communications

Get the Tools

Find a tool to allow the enterprise organization to manage their social channels. They now have creative services department create and allow access to others. Rogue accounts will still happen, but less often.

Governance

The key providing governance to employees. Hall says you need to empower your oversight committee to provide guidance and governance to the organization. At Thomson Reuters, anyone who wants to start a new channel needs to fill-out an application on why and what KPIs they will report. Sometimes, the committee will recommend partnering with a channel that is already in place, which provides new content for that channel.

The oversight committee monitors the use of the channels, and if there is inactivity, they will cull the channel.

Finally, Hall reminds us to continue monitoring. New accounts and channels will continue to appear. But, if you continue to be diligent and monitor, the horses will not get out of stable, again.

Want More From #DSMPLS?

You can follow us on @toprank for live tweets from the conference and visit toprankblog.com for additional coverage.


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Taming the Wild Wild West of Social Media Digital Reputation #DSMPLS | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Source:: toprankblog.com

Switching to HTTPS: Is it really worth it?

Ever since Google made the announcement that HTTPS is a ranking signal, there has been a lot of discussion around whether that extra ‘s‘ is really worth the hassle.

There are clear benefits to obtaining that sought-after green padlock, but there is also a lot of nervousness around actually making the switch.

The apprehension is understandable; as with any big change to a website, mistakes have the potential to be extremely costly – both to the user experience and to search visibility. Any risk of a drop in rankings has SEOs quivering in their boots.

However, this is not reason enough to avoid the change. There has been an almighty push towards creating a more secure web. There is a pressure for website owners to take responsibility for the security of their sites; those who do will be duly rewarded by Google.

What does HTTPS actually mean?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure; not that this will help you understand it any more than you did a few seconds ago.

As Google explains, HTTPS “protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and site.” This involves three layers of protection: encryption (goodbye eavesdroppers), data integrity (goodbye corrupt data) and authentication (goodbye attacks).

In short, HTTPS is essential for ensuring a safe and secure experience for users of a website. This is of paramount importance in an age where internet security is coming under increasing threats from all angles.

Having said all that, it is worth mentioning that HTTPS does not make your site an impenetrable fortress. Even with the best security in the world, a site can still come under attack.

That’s just an unfortunate reality of our digital age – look at the recent ransomware attacks across the globe. Nevertheless, HTTPS sure does help.

Benefits of HTTPS

First and foremost from an SEO perspective, Google considers site security to be a ranking signal and will favour websites with HTTPS. Although it is currently only a ‘lightweight‘ ranking signal and will therefore only affect a very small number of search queries, we expect this to evolve.

Much like the shift towards mobile-friendly websites, which started gaining momentum and then suddenly slapped us in the face with the (albeit underwhelming) #mobilegeddon and mobile-first indexing, it is only a matter of time before secure sites become more of a priority. In addition, we love the theory of marginal gains so every little helps!

The effectiveness of a move to HTTPS will likely be determined by the type of website. For example, ecommerce sites will certainly benefit the most from a switch to HTTPS. Where payment or the exchange of sensitive data is involved, security becomes critical.

Migrating to HTTPS may not yet be as important as high quality content or link-building prowess but it would be foolish to dismiss its importance on these grounds.

There are further benefits, too, in the realm of user experience; visitors will be more trusting of your website and confident in its ability to provide a safe browsing experience for them. Plus, let’s not forget the peace of mind it will bring you knowing that your site is protected with that little ‘s‘.

Concerns with HTTPS

But – and there’s always a but. Just the thought of migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is enough to strike fear into those responsible for the move. What if I accidentally block important URLs in robots.txt? What if it slows the speed of my site? What if my web applications aren’t compatible with HTTPS? What if I mess up the redirects and canonical tags? What if the rankings of my site plummet, never to return? What if my website just DISAPPEARS off the face of the digital ecosystem?

These are (mostly) legitimate concerns but they should not stop you. Here at Yellowball, we recently decided to make the move.

We had similar concerns, especially that we might see an initial drop in rankings and weren’t sure how long this would last. But alas, we made sure that those responsible for the move knew exactly what they were doing and we followed the best practices (getting to these shortly).

So, did anything terrible happen? We have seen a slight drop in rankings but these are already climbing back to normal and we expect to see an overall improvement in the long run. So no, nothing bad happened and now we can all relax in the knowledge that the big move is done.

HTTPS migration checklist

Mistakes can be made during a migration, so it’s important that you do your research and ensure the process is handled correctly. If you follow this step-by-step checklist and enlist the help of someone who knows their stuff, you’ll be just fine.

  1. Obtain a security certificate (usually referred to as an SSL certificate). Ensure you choose a high-level security option: Google recommends a 2018-bit key. You can get these certificates from a certificate authority but we recommend buying one from your hosting company, as they will usually help you install it.
  2. Set up redirects to ensure that all of your old HTTP pages redirect to the new HTTPS pages. There may only be one tiny difference of an ‘s‘ but this still makes the URLs completely separate. Create a URL map that lists all of the old URLs with their corresponding new ones. If you have been wanting to make any tweaks to your URL structure for a little while then now is the opportune time to do it. Be sure to use permanent 301 redirects (rather than temporary 302 redirects).
  3. Update internal links so that these all point directly to the new HTTPS pages, rather than having to redirect.
  4. Update all other resources including images, downloads and other scripts, as these will all need to point to the correct HTTPS locations too.
  5. Avoid blocking your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt and avoid the ‘noindex‘ tag.
  6. Reindex your site via Google Search Console and submit your new sitemap. Note that you will have to create a new property, due to the different URL. You cannot just submit to the old property and expect it to work.
  7. Test all is working correctly using this SSL Server test. If there are any technical issues then get in touch with your host or a developer to resolve problems quickly.

This is not a comprehensive list so it is worth enlisting the help of an expert. Remember that you can check the data in your Google Search Console to find out whether there are any URL or crawl errors.

Conclusion

All in all, it is clear to us that the benefits of migrating to HTTPS outweigh the potential pitfalls. Having a secure site will only become increasingly important and there’s every possibility that we will eventually face the HTTPS equivalent of mobilegeddon (securigeddon?).

Having said that, there are times where making the move may not be necessary. For example, if you run a personal blog, get only a small number of website visitors and don’t expect this to increase dramatically in the new few years.

However, if you are expecting to see a rise in traffic, or if you already see high volumes of traffic then our advice is to make the switch.

In short, Google says so. So do it.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com