Monday, August 28, 2017

5 Reasons to Boost Your Results with Microsites and Branded Blogs

As human beings, our attention span has shrunk to 8.25 seconds – less than that of a goldfish! Is it any wonder microsites and branded blogs are reporting increased conversion rates of up to 200%? These little workhorses are quick, not-so-quiet secret weapons. So why don’t you have one?

First things first: What the heck is a microsite (or branded blog to some)? A microsite allows you to zero in on a specific product, service, event or marketing effort to quickly raise brand awareness and convey hyper-specific information. It has its own URL, likely completely separate and independent of your main website URL. It can be short-term, like those based around a campaign or marketing effort (like Prudential’s, or evergreen, like those supporting a specific company platform or effort (like Red Bull’s These sites can be bulked up periodically or in the case of a blog, a social media platform that changes all of the time.

Alive Anytime - A microsite McD Marketing built for South Haven, MI

5 reasons why you should consider adding a microsite to your marketing arsenal. 

  1. They have less pages and content than your average website, making them faster to develop and pop up. That more compact, streamlined size and content profile can also translate to more cost-efficient development. Often developers are able to incorporate high-impact images, videos or animations. 
  2. They quickly raise awareness by focusing on specific content. Often tied to a specific product or service, they give your audience a fast, clear way to explore your new offering. And, they’re great for public and media relations, instantly generating interest and audience. In fact, microsites can improve conversion rates by as much as 200%. 
  3. You can mine a whole new array of keywords and SEO value without overhauling your main website. You don’t have the worry of managing your main site through a quick or short-term hard-hitting, fast-moving campaign. And, you don’t over-crowd or congest your main home page. 
  4. They can look completely different from your mother brand – especially important and valuable if you’re launching a product, service, event or campaign that targets an audience different from your norm, such as a more youthful segment. For example, Unilever leverages a microsite for its Axe product line’s unique marketing approach. 
  5. Add a branded blog to your digital footprint, and you raise your social media and SEO impact even more. And, you put your brand stamp out there in an even bigger way. You’ll want to be sure to schedule regular updates to keep content fresh and keep your target audience coming back to mine your brand messaging. And ideally, you’ll build it with a robust CMS that has the ability to allow for multiple publishing of blogs. P&G created the microsite and branded blog and reports that microsites are four times more effective than traditional marketing campaigns. 

Galena Country Journal - A microsite McD Marketing built for
Galena Jo Daviess County IL CVB.

While we’re at it, 3 things NOT to do with your microsite: 

  1. Put out duplicate content – one of Google’s cardinal sins; you’re zeroing out any SEO benefit your microsite provides if you’re not creating unique content. 
  2. Bandying about backlinks – the point of a microsite is to live separately from the mother ship. If you’re constantly backlinking to your current site, you’re defeating the purpose of building that unique online brand experience. 
  3. Piggybacking on your analytics – metrics rule in the online world, but if you’re muddying the waters by using your existing Google Analytics profile as-is, you’ll never know if your microsite fits the bill. A better approach: Create a new site profile under the same account. That way you can tailor and customize segmentation and goals to your microsite. 

You only have 8.25 seconds to reach… oh look a squirrel! The McD Digital Team only needs 6 seconds to get your attention. Think of us like the 6 million dollar man of digital: We have the technology – and the savvy. Let’s talk! Contact Tony Oedewaldt, Director of Business Development, at or 309-346-6974.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Technical SEO? Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Has your web development firm said those three little letters to you yet? S-E-O? if you’re building a website you’ve likely heard it more than once. But did you know SEO is more than making sure your site is at the top of the search results? So how does Technical SEO differ from a total SEO approach – and why should you care?

Technical SEO (search engine optimization) embodies a truly technical approach focusing on how well search engines can index your content. Google algorithms for example, will crawl your site based on certain parameters and from those results determine where you rank when a specific keyword is typed into the search box. Mobile friendliness, site speed, bread crumbs, a URL-friendly structure and avoiding duplicate content are all good technical SEO practices that impact your site’s indexing. It’s a great start.

But savvy marketers like yourself are taking it more than a few levels farther, implementing a truly thorough approach to SEO that seamlessly and relentlessly integrates technical SEO with on- and off-page content SEO. This is the full meal deal to the value menu; the whole enchilada to the hard-shell taco. We’re talking keyword optimization, user-centric experiential development, leveraging natural and inbound links.

A robust, results-driven SEO approach incorporates equally robust, engaging, original content development. And more, that content must be factual, accurate and practical, it should elicit response and emotion from the reader. Gone are the days of simply incorporating a few hot hit list keywords into your website text and calling it good. Today’s search engines deploy tech-smart spiders to crawl websites looking not just for the right words, but the right wording. They’re looking for style, conversationalism, friendliness, usefulness and resourcefulness. They’re learning and evolving as they crawl, and they’re getting smarter every day.

Thus, today’s smart SEO approach effectively leverages Google’s Hummingbird algorithm (the tool that brought down Mobilegedden in the cyber world). More than keywords, it’s about semantics – how things are said, casual phrasing, and above all else, a logical, natural-flowing question-and-answer format.

And successful SEO delves into the behind-the-scenes of the web world too, implementing Google-compliant meta descriptions and title/browser tags to raise results, and making subtle improvements that make a huge impact in browser pings, like keyword enhancement, image alt tags, crosslinking.

It’s a mad, mad world we live in – and an uber-savvy SEO approach that speaks to the Google gods goes a long way toward taming the beast. We’re web-tamers extraordinaire - contact Tony Oedewaldt today to tap into our tricks: or 866-431-4230.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Four Factors to Watch in a Digital Advertising Campaign

Digital Advertising—it’s more than just “the new hotness.” If you’re a business owner, marketing manager or business professional, then you know that digital advertising is no longer optional if you’re trying to reach consumers. From smartphones to tablets and streaming video sites, digital has become THE cost-effective means to reach potential clients. Yet, as essential as it is, the details of a digital campaign still remain murky for many advertisers. This is why many businesses rely on digital agencies for guidance. Here are four points that you should keep in mind when crafting a campaign with your advertising partners:

1) Know Your Audience 

When devising any sort of plan, it’s always important to know your final objective. When developing an advertising campaign, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. Who is your ideal new customer? What do they look like in a demographic sense? Where are they located? What makes them tick?

The reason that this is important is one of the key advantages of digital advertising: targeting. At the bare minimum, digital campaigns can be targeted by age, gender and location. In the age of social media and Google accounts on smartphones, targeting can go deeper—much deeper. A reliable agency will help their clients navigate the sea of demographics available to help focus an ad so that it is delivered only to the individuals who are most likely to interact with it. After all, you wouldn’t serve ads for a 70" UHD-TV to the Amish community, right? Instead, wouldn’t it be better to target those ads to individuals with disposable income who’ve shown interest in electronics? Even better—wouldn’t it be ideal to serve those same ads only to individuals who’ve shown interest in a particular brand?

Digital advertising can be laser-focused, but only if you take the time to form a battle plan. Speaking of laser-focused…

2) Pay for Clicks, Not Impressions. 

“Talk is cheap. Action is everything.” This adage is especially true for PPC campaigns. There are a lot of firms that promote digital campaigns based solely on the number of impressions (ad views) that the campaign will deliver. That’s all well and good if you’re only interested in general brand awareness, but wouldn’t you rather only have to pay when someone actually interacts with your ad in a meaningful fashion?

This is why the notion of pay-per-click (PPC) is so important. Ad views are free; advertisers are only billed when a potential client clicks on the ad and is directed to a campaign specific landing page. Impression-based campaigns charge every time the ad appears on a consumer’s viewable screen—but they don’t guarantee that anyone actually pays attention to your ad. Your budget will go much, much farther if it’s only being spent for actions, not words. The action that you’re paying for is driving traffic to your website, which brings us to the next point.

3) Destination is Key! 

Have you ever gone on vacation, pulled up to the motel and suddenly discovered that it doesn’t look as advertised? The pictures made it look quaint and rustic when the reality is that you’ve just arrived at the Bates Motel? The same thing applies to your PPC campaigns. Think about this—you spend all the time to define your audience, develop killer creative, optimize your program and yet the ads send potential customers to a landing page that is “less than good.” Even worse, the landing page doesn’t match the focus of the ad!

Your ads are the invitation and when consumers have clicked on that ad, it shows that they’re interested in your products and services. You want to keep that momentum going—so the ad’s destination URL needs to be inviting informative. It also needs to offer some way for that consumer to convert. We refer to this as the “path to conversion”—and it’s the crucial step in helping transition an individual from “interested party” to “future customer/client.”

Landing page content should align closely with the subject of the ad. Using the earlier TV example, the ad for a 70" UHD-TV should lead to a page showcasing a selection of UHD TVs. An ad for physical therapy services should take surfers to a physical therapy page, etc. The last thing you want to do is run an ad on a very specific topic and direct viewers to an incredibly general page. If they have to hunt for the information featured in the ad, the odds are that they’re just going to hit that dreaded “back” button and leave, unlikely to return.

4) Watch Your CPC! 

Everyone knows what CPC is, right? HA!

CPC is defined in the digital world as “cost-per-click.” Essentially, it’s calculated by dividing the total budget for an ad campaign by the number of clicks generated during that period. What this really measures is how far your budget will go before it is used up. It’s also where many digital agencies insert management costs and other mark-ups. While this price structure is perfectly fine, it doesn’t really make the best use of a client’s budget. A transparent agency won’t add anything to the CPC—opting instead to charge an upfront monthly management fee. This way the “click budget” of the campaign is going to do just that—CLICK! Isn’t that the goal of a pay-per-click campaign in the first place?

Be mindful of the CPC for your campaigns. The lower this number is, the more reach your budget has—allowing you to put your products and services in front of more future customers.

These four points just scratch the surface of the complex nature of digital advertising. Yet, being aware of these factors can help advertisers to make more informed decisions when it comes to everything from placement to choice of digital ad agency. As with any kind of advertising, it’s always best to approach any potential campaign development with “eyes wide open.” Having a basic understanding of some of the core terminology can help your company or organization make informed decisions when setting up campaigns and entertaining recommendations from agencies courting your business.

At McD, we believe in “Deeds, Not Words.” (As does Mega-Force.) We don’t just write blog articles about how things should be—we practice what we preach. If you’d like to learn what we can do for your business, give us a call!