Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A guide to choosing the right website CMS.


The right content management system (CMS, the back-end programming/software that allows you to virtually change anything on your website by yourself) can turn even the most mundane people into master webmasters. From simple text editing to full-on digital asset management, we can truly have full control right on our mouse pad.

But select the wrong CMS, and you’ll find yourself mired in a sea of painful programming limitations. Perhaps cmswire.com said it best: “Businesses must have the ability to flow their content in a liquid manner across every manner of digital channel.”

But how do you find your best fit in the sea of content management systems out there? With a few simple dos and don’ts.

Look for flexibility and control, combined with ease of use and a short learning curve. (So you don’t need a computer science degree to make it work.) Ideally, the toolbars and windows would look and function similar to Microsoft Word, giving you familiarity and comfort.

But what else? Start by documenting your requirements.

howto.gov recommends asking questions like these before deciding: “Which digital services do you need to offer to support your organization’s mission and goals? How will you need to communicate with customers? How will you offer services via mobile and other devices?”

Dos & Don’ts 
of Selecting the Right CMS

Don’t buy just because of the cool features.


Don’t buy just because it’s a big name in the industry.

Don’t buy just because it fits into your existing IT systems.

Don’t buy solely based on price.

DO buy because it does what you want it to do (PS—you need to figure that out first)

DO buy because it aligns with the skills and abilities of the people who use it

DO buy because it fits into your budget and expectations.

DO buy because it makes it easy for you.
Focus on things like:
  • Ease of use
  • Functionality
  • Support for open content and SEO
  • Integration into your current IT environment

Even more, “The technology should be capable of optimizing, personalizing and adapting to any number of contextual demands,” says cmswire.com.

In general, content management systems can:
  • Let you add, update and delete sections
    and pages
  • Upload, resize and edit photos
  • Add or delete files like PDFs, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets
  • Change fonts, colors and spacing
  • Create forms and surveys
  • Add and delete user accounts and
    manage security
  • And more

As inc.com says, “Today, there are hundreds of [web cms] options. One size does not fit all.” A huge range of content management systems exists, from the simplest text editors and pre-packaged systems to more robust custom setups that let you build out advanced options like banner ads, coupons, event calendars, photo galleries and ecommerce capability like shopping carts, bill pay or online donations.
Content management systems can even be customized with modules for specific industries, like healthcare, tourism, retail. And you can even have them customized to your specific business or organization.
Whether you’re a small business, start-up, a non-profit, a mid-size enterprise or a major corporation, be careful to align the system to your online marketing plan. The fact is, with the right content management system, you could potentially manage nearly 100% of your website—by yourself, without special technical training or software. Who said websites aren’t easy?
Want to learn more about content management systems from out-of-the-box to custom? Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309.346.2512.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is your website performing or boring?



An amazing 77% of North American households are online. That means roughly 240 million are online in North America, and your website has some serious work to do.
What should your website be doing for you?
  • Give them a reason to come back
  • Ignite action
  • Optimize content marketing
  • Complement your marketing mix

Entice, excite, engage.

Drive for dazzle, and you’ll not only wow visitors but deliver results. Top of mind as you build structure and construct copy should be the question, “What will make people stop skimming and start reading?” Up to 79% of people scan any new page they come to; only 16% read word for word. Bring the wow factor with popular programming techniques and powerful cross-browser code. A mix of clever copy, bold keywords, bullets, rich infographics and easily navigable graphics gets the point across better than scrolling through reams of words on the page. Rotating billboards, interactive maps, the options are endless. The more you engage them, the longer they stay.

Ignite action

Spark interest from the first click with eye-catching, interactive design and intriguing, enticing words that draw visitors into your story. Use images, sound,  words,  whatever it takes. Think in your customers’ terms and write keyword-rich copy that resonates with not only your customers but search engine optimization software everywhere. Use tricks like asking visitors to do something on every page of your site. Make information easy to find and easy to access more. Try custom forms, newsletters signups, surveys, FAQs, comments and more. This is the ultimate billboard: big, bold and beautifully branded with your best benefits and business builders. It takes people less than two-tenths of a second to form an opinion on a website. Make it count.

Maximize content marketing
   Does it…
  Give them a reason to come back?
  Ignite action?
  Optimize content marketing?
  Complement your marketing mix

What is content marketing? Simply put, it’s creating relevant and compelling content consistently for a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism. The majority of marketers  say they are ineffective at content marketing s have no documented strategy, so the first step is creating a targeted strategy. Tactics you can integrate with your website include social media, articles,
e-newsletters and blogs. How?

Target specific parts of your audience. Every piece of content or article doesn’t have to be relevant to every segment. But it does need to be relevant to at least one segment.

Also, focus on a couple of key words or phrases. Create a list of key words and phrases that are the most important to you and your products, the ones you think people are most likely to use when searching for your products, and for items relevant to your products. Then choose some keys from your list to target in each piece of content.

Be sure to link to more content, and it doesn’t have to be only on your site, either. It can be content you’ve created, like descriptions of services or product information, or it can be valuable resources or references at third-party sites.

Make your pay-per-click (and other) advertising work better

Keep people coming back by keeping content fresh, new and relevant. Use proven SEO techniques. Encourage clients to learn more by crafting keyword-rich landing pages that make your pay-per-click ads work even better while lowering your bid rates/costs. In turn that spills over into other integrated efforts; keeping it fresh pays off. Engage through social media (72% of online adults are social networking site users). Try a variety of tactics, like updating news, adding testimonials, publishing blog updates, giving product reviews, sharing expert tips and more.


Want more? Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309.346.2512.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Does Traditional Advertising Still Work?


Does Traditional Advertising Still Work?


The short answer is, everything has its place. Meaning, maybe not every campaign needs print. Certainly every campaign doesn’t need radio, TV or outdoor. But every campaign needs a strategic, integrated mix of multiple media to maximize effectiveness and impact.

Over 47% of shoppers are most likely to start an online search after viewing a magazine ad, reports the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association.

According to a survey by PR News and BurrellesLuce, the two most important media categories that help execs attain their goals are print and broadcast (38% and 24%, respectively).

Print – Newspapers & Magazines

From 2006 to 2012, the average recall of ads (among readers of newspapers) has increased by 7%, according to a study by Research and Analysis of Media of Americas, Inc. And MRI Survey reports that magazines hold the biggest influence over consumers (61%). Added to that, print has a tangibility that appeals to many consumers. This physicality also gives print longer life, with additional impressions through pick-ups and hand-downs to secondary and even tertiary readers.

Newspapers enjoy a more pervasive presence, appearing in many homes and offices and offering a high likelihood of exposure, with online editions further expanding the possibilities. Seven in 10 adults access content from newspaper media each week, says the Newspaper Association of America’s SenseMaker Report, conducted by Scarborough Research.

Magazines offer possibilities for incisive targeting, by geography, hobby, profession, interest and more, as well as high-quality advertising thanks to high-quality production. Tendencies toward keeping magazines as a reference, keepsake or simply for future reading pleasure give them an extended shelf life hard to match.

Outdoor

Remember outdoor isn’t only billboards. Think beyond them to the new term “out-of-home” media, and you’re thinking potential. Some say outdoor ads reach a “captured” audience, because when you’re in the car or on the road, you can’t help but look at that billboard, moving outdoor board or bus ad.

More important, The Arbitron National In-Car Study found that billboard viewers make shopping decisions while in the car (72%). On average, Americans spend nearly 20 hours a week in the car and travel over 200 miles each week. And 71% of us “often look at the messages on roadside billboards” (traditional and digital combined). Not surprisingly, a MarketShare Partners study found that outdoor works best in conjunction with other tactics, providing a “significantly higher sales lift” when paired with TV and radio.

Television

A recent Gallup poll found that TV remains the leading source of news for US adult consumers. The latest Cross-Platform Report from Nielsen found that the amount of traditional TV content we consume is increasing.

In fact, even Twitter sees the importance of TV, recently launching a TV Ad Targeting service that lets advertisers track tweets about the program where the ad was aired. Says Twitter Product Manager of Revenue Michael Fleischman: “Synchronized Twitter and TV ad campaigns make brand messages more engaging, interactive and measurable.”

Radio

While the effectiveness of radio has been long debated among media pundits and planners alike, it does have a remarkable ability to maintain audience delivery even when the commercials come on—giving it real-time reach. Arbitron reports that radio delivers more than 93% of its lead-in audience levels during the average commercial break.

Not only do people stay with radio once it’s on; they’ve been staying with it for years. In 2002, 93% of people used radio each week. In 2012, that number remained the same, and the total use per day had increased to 8.25 hours for radio, TV and the internet combined, according to studies by Edison Research and Arbitron.

To put it into perspective, that means more people listen to the radio on a typical day than use Facebook, Google Web Search or YouTube. However, you do need to realize that options such as XM, Pandora and mobile devices/Itunes are stealing away listenership every year. Our long-term view of radio is one of concern unless you factor in the original content of “talk” radio.

The Mix

The reality is that any successful advertising effort starts with assessment. Look at your objectives,  audience, and budget. Once you have those answers, take a look at traditional advertising and how it relates to your online advertising program. That said, an effective campaign is an integrated campaign—one that cleverly and strategically mixes traditional advertising with digital and other now-traditional non-traditional media. And the short answer is: everything has its place.