July 3rd, 2013
Hello? Hi. Sorry, we know it’s been ages.
We didn’t mean to leave it so long. We’ve just been busy.
And we’ve changed. We wanted to be better. So we’ve been focusing on what we do best and working with some great people to make us look the business.
It’s given us a spring in our step. We’ve got so much to tell you, if you can spare the time. So what do you say? Still friends?
June 11th, 2013
Re-launching a website is a massive, multi-layered task for any business.
You have make decisions not only about design and branding — a re-launch requires a seemingly endless checklist of tasks: benchmarking, content strategy, audience research, SEO, back-end hosting … the list goes on. Plus, as a business every decision is hinged on ROI: What impact will the remodeled website have on your business’ traffic, engagement, and conversion?
Your business’s flaws and weak links are often exposed when it comes time to reinvigorate your web presence.
Whether this comes in tandem with an organizational restructure, a change in services or products, a reinvigorated brand strategy, or simply after realizing that your current website is not converting customers at the level you’d like, every business should re-convene on their web strategy at least every few years.
I co-founded iAcquire, a NYC and Phoenix-based digital marketing agency, and recently re-launched our agency site to reflect our evolution as an industry and as an agency. As a 15-year veteran of the digital marketing world and a captain of our agency’s recent remodel, I have gathered years of insight into necessities of a website relaunch.
These tips can serve as a blueprint, checklist, and guide for your enterprise’s future website remodeling plans.
1. Get everyone on the same page
Talk to each and every stakeholder about the impending re-launch. Meet with colleagues (within your department and cross-functionally), shareholders, clients, board members, industry mentors, and other key parties as you embark on your re-launch planning.
Ask each group similar questions:
- What is missing?
- What do you like about the current site?
- Do you think it’s the right time to re-launch?
- Do we have the capacity to do this as a company?
- Do you think we will come out better afterwards?
- Do we want a re-skin, which impacts the overall design aesthetic of the website, or a re-launch, a total overhaul?
Answering these questions early on – and getting buy in and feedback from all parties — will help you in the long run. When relaunching iAcquire.com, for example, multiple departments within our agency combined forces to create a vision for the website. Doing this helped us define scope, high-level direction, budget, requirements, and most importantly goals — all essential for the beginning strategy documents of a website redesign.
2. Allocate a budget and bandwidth
Your overall budget for your website redesign will frame your bandwidth. If your budget is in the tens of thousands of dollars, you have the budget to utilize a big agency to create a new website for your enterprise. If your budget is smaller ($7,500-$15,000) you may be able to utilize outside help on a consulting basis.
Either way, a large chunk of change will be needed for a website redesign. Hosting isn’t free either, so even if you do everything in-house you’ll need a budget.
Also, consider the project scope and if your in-house team has the capacity to complete such a large-scale project. Creative, content, promotion, SEO, and developers will all need to commit a large part of their workload to the project. For example, our marketing and strategy team dedicated a good solid three month to the project.
CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, and legal need to be engaged from the beginning as well. And project status should be communicated at least one time per week to high-level stakeholders.
3. Ensure benchmarks are in place
Create benchmarking documents to track the current website’s design and content, layout, as well as audience targeting and current website analytics (visitor interaction and conversion) so you can accurately measure success after the new site launches. Define your current and future KPIs and keep track of them. Keep in mind that these may change as your organization grows, so be inclusive and collect as much as you can.
For iAcquire, we use the following key performance indicators:
- Time on site
- Share of voice
- Number of links
- Organic search rankings
4. Define or redefine your key audience personas
Consumers are getting savvier and savvier by the minute and modern technology allows users to tune out various messages. With that being said, it is crucial to craft your remodeled website around your converting, engaged personas.
Once you define audience personas, you can better direct:
- The tone of the copy
- The website’s overall design/look
- What type of content (images, copy, videos) resonates best
- Calls to action – where the are placed, what copy to use, user path
Creating audience personas helps all creative, content, and allows marketing stakeholders to maintain uniformity. Leverage audience market data, survey results, and need states to create personas and user stories. Use this template and create your own three to five personas. Utilize market research tools like Experian, Nielsen, Facebook data, and even Google Analytics to get to the core of your visitor base.
5. Plan as much as you execute
Draft a creative brief that includes all project requirements – from copy and SEO to technical hosting and color scheme requirements. This brief will serve as the blueprint for all parties working on the redesign. The plan can be as long as 30 pages, though the length is not important; the content is the important part. If it helps you, then delegate specific sections to different leaders within your team. Come together and review the plan, and then from there start executing your strategy.
6. Consider your copy
A shiny, well-designed site is great, but like your looks it’s the first thing to go with age. If your content isn’t great, neither is your site. And it’s not just about well-written prose; it all has to be planned out, persona-driven content, created by understanding your key audiences and how they behave online. Develop a roadmap for content strategy and your copy will fall into place.
Within iAcquire, we know that governance and establishing an editorial calendar is just as important as setting up the content framework. Without structural guidance organizations can fall into content paralysis. These processes defines the players, topics, and requirements necessary to curate and publish content.
7. Keep the bot in mind
Within your re-launch two key “audiences” need to be kept in mind: your visitors and the search engine spiders. Search engines have a very detailed algorithm for ranking pages, and with your re-launch you want to make sure that you stay even or above in your rankings. Here are three key considerations you should have for SEO:
If specific URLs are no longer active, or you are changing the site architecture, make sure 301s redirects are in place. Non-existent redirects can lead to a “docked” search position.
- Conversion end-points
Your re-designed website will probably not have the same conversion funnel or path as your last site, so make sure someone is dedicated to checking the conversion points on your redesigned sites to make sure they are a) working, b) properly migrated, and c) tracked.
- On-page keyword analysis
Target two to three keywords per page and intertwine them organically throughout the copy and metadata. If your organization previously targeted a list of keywords, look at them again as competition and volume changes from year to year and even month to month.
8. Who’s your host?
Consider where you are going to host your site.
All of these decisions need to be made early on.
9. Utilize Google Webmaster Tools
Once your website is in development, have your organization set up a Google account (if you don’t already have one) and get acquainted with Google Webmaster Tools. This free Google tool can tell you any problems with site/page indexing and even click-through rates. If the content is being rearranged on your new site, it could be buried deeper, making it harder for search engines to crawl, which leads to a non-indexed area.
10. Strategize a post-launch plan
Your job isn’t over when your redesigned site launches. Create a plan to promote the new site on social media, PR outreach, and blog announcements. Plan on pushing marketing messages through these channels for at least two weeks past the launch. Connect with key influencers on social who can push your message further.
Then create a plan to organize, develop, curate, and publish new content so you keep luring new visitors in: inbound marketing at its finest. On an internal communications front, make sure that your organization is kept in the loop as well. Inform all departments of the re-launch. Be clear on what has changed and how they can utilize your “2.0” or “3.0″ website to optimally conduct their respective jobs.
While every organization has needs, adopting a process is a crucial element. Use this list as a guide, and customize it to meet your organization’s unique challenges, and develop a website that reflects your company in a way that is beneficial to you and your customer.
Joe Griffin has served as the co-founder and CEO at iAcquire, a digital marketing firm, since 2008. Prior to founding iAcquire, Joe co-founded SubmitAWebsite.com, which was acquired by Web.com, and before that he spent three years with iCrossing, where he led business development and later their paid search division. Joe writes at joegriffin.me and the iAcquire blog, tweets at @joegriffin, and lives on Google+.
November 20th, 2012
“Did you lose it under the lamppost?” “No, but the light’s better here.” So ends an old joke about looking for an answer in the wrong place. The line comes to mind when we talk about ad-impression viewability as a metric.
The online ad industry has latched on to “viewability” as a great new standard for online advertising. To be sure, viewability gets us closer to the ideal — that the ad you buy at least can be seen by someone. But as with the man under the lamppost, the real solution is elsewhere. What advertisers want isn’t viewability — it’s noticeability.
A viewable impression in a cluttered environment is unlikely ever to be noticed. Many of today’s pages are a hot mess of links, content, graphics, skins, unrequested video and floating banners. They are an assault on the senses, and one sense in particular — our vision — does some quick filtering to skip through the obstacles and find what we came for. If the cognitive dissonance is too strong, we’re gone. The ads we skipped counted as viewable, but we never noticed them.
Without the addition of page-quality data, viewability will never give advertisers what they really want: a measure of how well their ads stood out. Programmatic buying has trained us to believe in that each impression has value. If each impression counts, then advertisers should a) stop buying blind inventory and b) demand the addition of page-quality information.
If we can raise our awareness beyond the lamppost, we will find ways to improve upon viewability. Big-money brand advertisers will gain the ability to gauge the effectiveness of their programmatic spend. Thus armed, they can compare that effectiveness across publishers, and can then communicate to publishers, via the pricing function, the kind of supply that truly interests them.
A viewability metric that includes page-quality data also aids publishers, by giving them a way to improve the quality of their pages — the layout, the ad quantity, the type of ad that works best — so they can attract better advertisers and better readers alike. When engagement goes up, and pages and audiences become more valuable, the ecosystem improves for everyone.
Look at the gray areas on the two pages pictured here. They offer equivalent viewability, but the environment of the one on the right resulted in a much higher ad recall among surveyed readers. Which matters more to an advertiser: being seen, or being remembered?
Clutter isn’t just the advertising, it’s everything — the entire environment of a page. If we take a page out of Apple’s design book and focus on creating content experiences that are more elegant, even long-tail content can be sold as premium — because advertisers could count on finding the right audience, the right content and the right environment.
That’s what can happen if publishers give advertisers noticeability, rather than mere viewability.
October 6th, 2012
Agency CEO Implores Clients, Adland to Bury This Outmoded Marketing Term
People in this business seem to love “killing” things, whether it’s advocating the death of TV or, as one agency did this week, marking the end of advertising, complete with a funeral. Here’s a proposal: Let’s kill something that actually deserves to die and retire the phrase “above the line” for good.
Admittedly, it will not be easy. A quick search of Ad Age’s online archive finds 152 uses of the phrase over 18 years, indicating how long adland has propagated this outdated — if not outright damaging — way of looking at our industry.
As Ad Age readers know, “above the line” traditionally refers to broadcasted mass media, while “below the line” refers to more targeted and measurable channels. Incremental changes in “above-the-line” agency relationships are the subject of utter fascination in our business, and yet wholesale changes in “below-the-line” practices or relationships still hardly register in the trades, blogs or even agency gossip mills.
In a less connected and tech-enabled world, this made some sense. Ad agencies were paid on percentages of media buys that dominated their clients’ budgets, and their output represented the bulk of those clients’ attempts to engage their customers.
But today this fixation is as lazy as it is meaningless. Effective marketing no longer occurs above or below the line and effective marketers recognize that there is no line. Look at Starbucks, a ubiquitous and wildly successful brand that has wielded loyalty, mobile, social and in-store programs with far more potency and effectiveness than it has broadcast channels. Or consider how our client Target has leveraged TV-quality shoppable video to create a more engaging and effective e-commerce experience.
September 21st, 2012
How to be Pregnant and CEO: 5 Tips
It’s absolutely possible to be pregnant, or a new mother, and a CEO at the same time. Some words of wisdom from someone who’s been there.
All of a sudden, Marissa Mayer and I are about to have something very significant in common. At the age of 37, she is both the CEO of Yahoo and pregnant with her first child. I’m a year older, and the CEO of Pixability, a video marketing software company. Eighteen months ago, I gave birth to my daughter, Louisa. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Don’t Believe What They Say I’ve had investors, family and the general public wonder aloud whether I was being reckless to attempt both a baby and a post as CEO at the same time. But thanks to brain chemistry, having a baby is likely to improve your performance as CEO. Childbirth strengthens the area in your frontal cortex that governs executive function-;important stuff such as planning, problem solving, verbal reasoning, and multi-tasking. Hugely helpful.
Babies Are Simpler To Manage Than Tech Companies. As an analytical person, I like to sink my teeth into hard problems. A tech company is a pretty complex equation. Solving an equation for multiple variables while they change dynamically is what I do for a living. As it turns out, healthy babies have precious few variables: food, sleep, diaper, boredom, and that’s about it. You’ll figure it out pretty quickly.
September 21st, 2012
Clean up your image – Using images as content
When it comes to quickly getting your message across, a picture really is worth a thousand words. The rise of social networks that focus on images—such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr—present plenty of visual marketing opportunities to savvy businesses. There are opportunities on Facebook and Twitter, as well. Often, the best way to engage your Facebook network is to post a photo that your friends will comment on. Businesses should operate the same way.
|Here are three questions to ask yourself when incorporating images into your big picture marketing strategy:|
|1||Which visual medium is right for my brand? It’s important to understand the differences between the various visual social networks out there. There’s no better way to figure out which is the best choice for your brand than to spend some time on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. This will allow you to see what each network has to offer and help you decide which networks not to join, which is just as important. Are you a jet-setting business consultant? Tumblr or Instagram might be a better way to post both your whereabouts and day-to-day observations. If you operate a retail business or brick-and-mortar establishment, Pinterest may be more your style.|
|2||What does my brand offer visually?Before you come to the conclusion that your brand doesn’t have anything to offer visually, think outside of the box. Even if you’re not a fashion boutique, art gallery, interior decorator, or wedding planner, your brand can still have a meaningful presence on networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. Just like other social networks, these give you a chance to develop your brand’s personality, so be creative and have fun! Take a look at this article on unlikely industries that have leveraged Pinterest for some ideas and inspiration.|
|3||What about infographics? Infographics convey information in a visually stimulating way, allowing you to give more meaning to the data you are sharing. They’re a great tool for increasing your brand’s reach on social media. By finding, tweeting, and posting relevant infographics to your company’s Facebook page, you can draw more visitors and comments.
If you have the time and the talent, creating an infographic is another option – and one that can win you some serious credibility in the thought leadership department. Some tips to keep in mind: make sure the data you’re sharing is timely and relevant, and try to tie it into a bigger trend.
Images and visual brand strategy are just another piece of your big picture marketing strategy. Make sure any images associated with your brand relate back to your overall marketing goals. That said, don’t be afraid to have fun! The more compelling your photos, images, or graphics, the more likely they are to bring you more site visitors, and as a result, more business.
September 14th, 2012
Starbucks’ iconic logo is recognizable globally and today, Shop.org Summit attendees were offered a peek at the decision-making process behind the latest iteration. During this RAMA session, Starbucks’ Steve Murray described the evolution of the brand’s logo, which was first designed in 1971 when the company opened its first location – which didn’t sell your favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte, or even a plain old cup of coffee.
Since then, Starbucks has redesigned its logo three times, most recently in 2011, when the company celebrated its 40th anniversary. A few things changed in those 40 years: the company branched out into the CPG world, marketing everything from tea to ice cream; customers engaged intimately with the brand via social media; and it expanded to more than 17,000 retail locations globally.
But something else had changed. The world evolved from the “me” world, one in which Starbucks represented an affordable luxury, to the “we” world, in which customers were focusing on the simpler things in life. The 40th anniversary was the perfect opportunity for the company to revisit its brand promise.
June 28th, 2012
CHILDREN can be a career changer for many women who want to care for their family but face inflexible employers. Three women give candid accounts of their return to work.
“I wanted to go back to work part time but when I put that to the director there was a definite ‘no’.”
Former position: Senior marketing consultant in pharmacy
Now: Business owner, George Creative Communications
I WAS on maternity leave for six months and, when I returned, the company had gone through a restructure.
Two other roles had been made redundant and so my position changed to doing the other roles and mine.
I’d worked with them for two years before going on maternity leave and I said I’d return in a year and, at the time, they said: “We’ll talk about that when you return, you may not want to be full time any more.”
I was given a great opportunity but my priorities had changed. What became important to me was being around for my child.
It was a horrible time emotionally, a huge decision to throw away everything I’d built with that organisation but I’ve come out on top.
It’s been a success for me, starting my own business.
What was really great, was the director that I blamed for having to resign actually put me in touch with people. I’m a hard worker and she knew that. This job fits in with my life.
My advice to mums getting ready to return to work is don’t ever burn any bridges. You never know when they are going to be needed.
June 28th, 2012
UM Global CEO on Media Sellers, Agency Challenges and Women in Leadership
Jacki Kelley has seen the media business from both sides of the desk, as a seller at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and as a buyer at Universal McCann, where she has been global CEO since January 2011 and was president for North America before that.
She told us what she doesn’t miss from her days in sales, what’s harder about the agency side and how too many young women are setting back their careers.
Advertising Age: You’ve worked on both sides of media. How do you approach media owners now that you’re on the other side?
Jacki Kelley: There are two things I think anyone who has been on the sales side will do differently: time and transparency. Most media owners have had an agency reach out to them and say, in 48 hours we need your best idea that accomplishes these relatively broad objectives, and we’d like you to turn it around. That’s not how you’ll get the best idea. You need to work with media owners about insights and behaviors and engagement about the brand. Media owners know so much about their audiences and I want to be the agency media owners want to work with.
There are a lot of things you can automate through demand-side platforms, but for tentpole campaigns you want to have a level of partnership. And these quick turnarounds are lazy.