Data Solutions: Much More Than Just SEO

There are many ways to bring traffic into your website when you’re working with a digital marketing agency. Within marketing, we call these channels. To clients, they look more like services. The primary channels for bringing in digital marketing traffic are:

  • Social Media
  • Pay-Per-Click and Remarketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • 3rd Party Links (i.e. – press coverage, interviews)

It’s very uncommon that any of these channels will perform on its own. This is almost always a blend of tactics, integrated into one campaign. The better your campaign target and messaging, the more likely it is to resonate with prospects. This is where a data solutions department can be particularly useful.


What Does a Data Solutions Department Do?


Using analytics data for the basis of digital marketing decisions allows organizations to make decisions informed by the activity of users, and a data-focused team can look at customer behavior across channels, in order to bring better value from each of these channels.

With the introduction of SSL increasing the share of not provided keywords, search traffic analysis needs to rely on visitor interactions and landing page performance in addition to keyword performance – making a blend of data analysis even more important.

Philosophy aside, what an SEO and Data Solutions department actually does for a client will include:

Implementing and Tracking Site Traffic and Visitor Behavior

This includes using Google Analytics, search database tools, heat mapping, and form tracking to understand where visitors are clicking and where they aren’t, allowing marketing departments to make more precise campaign decisions.

Targeting Site Optimization

An extension of reporting, a data solutions team watches actual traffic behavior in order to spend time optimizing pages that are earning visitors, using search query data to understand whether the landing page fits visitor intent, and adjusting copy to earn more traffic and properly target the visitors landing there.

Proposing New Content

Regular content creation is a surefire SEO booster. An SEO and Data team will be able to suggest new content based on keyword performance, industry trends, and landing page performance. This content can also be reviewed with heatmaps and targeted traffic reporting.

Content is where your data solutions department goes beyond SEO. The right content can be reconfigured and presented for social media, Pay-Per-Click, and strategic email campaigns. Over time, content engagement and conversion data creates a sophisticated understanding of product interest across channels.

Monitoring Competitors

Competitor SEO data, especially for an organization with a new or underperforming website, Is incredibly valuable. Competitor data like keyword positions, popular landing pages, and pay-per-click keywords offers direction for new content or SEO priorities.

If a marketing client is a new entrant in a competitive space, a full SEO and marketing competitor analysis may be advantageous for developing a smart and strategic SEO and digital marketing campaign.


Technical Site Performance and SEO


A top-level conversion focus powers online marketing growth, but only if it is on a solid technical and user experience foundation. An SEO department has access to tools and expertise in auditing websites for technical, security, or user experience issues that are impacting search appearance.

Regular site audits for SEO and security are critical for growing search traffic – all of the keyword data in the world is powerless if your technical foundation is shaky. Our SEO and data department conducts regular site audit scans and stays on the forefront of search ranking factors in order to keep client sites performing.

This means that, when starting SEO, the first phase of the plan may look more similar to a web development project than a traditional search engine optimization roadmap. Getting a website up-to-date with technical specifications early helps future content rank faster when it’s published. Charging straight to keyword optimization while leaving technical optimizations on the backburner will hamper your search traffic performance.

Goal-Oriented SEO Strategy

Your SEO reports should include conversion data! Conversions can have a variety of definitions – ecommerce sales, B2B quote inquiries, product sample requests, etc. Your SEO team should understand what your business goals are, and track them within Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager makes these goals easier and more comprehensive to track, easily marketing events, and turning select events into goals.

Goal implementation and goal-oriented reporting means our SEO and Data Solutions department is able to provide conversion information for keywords, traffic sources, and landing pages by digital marketing channel. Reviewing this reporting reveals opportunities to optimize landing pages for conversions, improving marketing value over time.

 

Brand Identity: What it is and How to Attain it

“People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

To have a compelling brand identity, you must first understand and articulate why you do what you do. What drives you to get out of bed every morning and tackle what’s ahead? When you wake up in the middle of the night with the next great idea to push your vision forward, why do you become so excited you can’t go back to sleep? Your “why” is the core around which all the elements of your brand identity should revolve and relate back to.


Definition Elements of a Brand Identity Kit


Let’s start with defining Brand Identity. And like the title of Sinek’s book, let’s “start with Why.”

Mission. Your mission statement is an exposition of why your company exists, why you do what you do. What drives you to do what you do? Is it a need to push boundaries in the industry? Is it to inspire change in the world? Is it to continuously rise above the expectations of your target market through constant innovation?

Your mission statement is your “why.” Without it, your brand identity will never be one that appeals to customers time and time again.

Position Statement. A positions statement consists of a few sentences that articulate the values in your product or service to your target market, within the realm of your competitors. Let’s break this down.

First, simply state what you’re offering. Ex. “We provide ____”

Second, identify your target market. To whom are you selling these products/service? Or rather, whom do you hope to sell to? There can oftentimes be a considerable difference between the two, but remember that in order for your business to be what you want it to be, you must always be targeting your ideal customer. Figure out what they look for when they’re shopping and adjust your product or services accordingly.

Third, consider your competition. Reviewing your competitors helps you figure out who you’re up against in the industry. You might sell similar products, but through a competitor analysis, you’ll be able to pinpoint an aspect of your product offering that makes yours more desirable. (We explain…)

Here is your value proposition. Why should your target market buy your products and not a competitor’s? Is because they’re thrifty and you offer the best price? Do they value cutting edge design or superior quality material? Do they value the name and reputation of your brand? Capitalize on what your customers value most and make it clear that that is exactly what your company offers.

Those were just the core elements of your business. Now, let’s move onto considering your style elements. Style elements of brand identity add up to make your brand identity what it is to the public. These are concrete, customer-facing elements that ideally, should communicate the abstract values of your company that were defined above.

Keeping these vital elements well-organized in a handbook helps you clearly communicate the standards by which they can to be used—helpful for your design team, or anyone else that may be producing your business’ branded materials.


Style Elements of a Brand Identity Kit


Logo

A logo is a symbol that is essentially your business’ face to the world. Being so, it must reflect your “why.” We know, capturing your company’s values, culture, and mission through a small symbol seems like an elusive task, but all the small parts that make up your logo (font, color, imagery if any) can be fine-tuned to get the job done. Consider ATAK’s logo—black and white, simple font, clean lines. It reflects who we are, and that’s direct, no bs, ready to get down to business.

Your logo could either be a graphic symbol, a word mark, or a pairing of both. Some companies have done extremely well with a logo that’s just a word mark (think Coca-Cola), and these logos are often cheaper and easier to formulate. In any case, the ways in which your logo can and cannot be used should be clearly defined in your brand identity kit.

Have a standard for spacing around your logo so that it never appears too closely to another image as this could take away from its impact. In addition to its original dimensions, render your logo in a variety of orientations so that it still shines when used on different platforms or promotional items.

Colors

The colors of your company play an important role in building the desired reputation you want for your brand. Factors like individual experiences and cultural differences make it difficult for us to make broad statements such as “yellow means happy!” but research has found that the appropriateness of a color in relation to a brand makes a difference in how the brand is perceived. In other words, are your colors appropriate to what you’re selling? Do they effectively communicate your brand personality and values?

Once you have these questions answered, figure out your brand colors’ hex code, Pantone colors, CMYK, and RBG colors and give these a section in your brand identity kit. This goes for both your primary colors (usually appears in your logo) and your secondary colors that support and complement them. With the case of secondary colors, it’s helpful to communicate how and where they can be used.

Typography

The typeface in your company’s communications provides another opportunity to build consistency in your brand identity. Choose a font that looks good in various sizes and weights, and not too decorative to serve in important correspondence.

Keep in mind that not all programs and computers could be compatible with the font you’ve chosen. If you’re producing your marketing materials in-house, make sure that those fonts are available on all of the systems that produce these materials. If you’re handing your marketing efforts over to an agency, be sure to provide a location for where these fonts can be downloaded. If the font that you’ve chosen exists on Mac but not PC or vice versa, be sure to choose an alternative that works to the same effect.


Identity Elements to Consider


Other smaller elements within the company are worth considering as they still have a large bearing on creating a unified brand image. Having a company-wide convention on email signatures helps further a company persona, especially since emails are public facing. The formatting, colors and logo placement (if any) should be clearly communicated to your employees when they come onboard. Here at ATAK, we encourage our team members to place a quote in their signature in which they find drive and meaning. Similarly, company headshots should follow a strict convention—what is the dress code, background, color scheme, etc.?

Have guidelines on how your company speaks. What kind of tone do you want your company to take on in its copy and outside communications? The tone should reflect your company’s values defined in your mission and position statement. Is the company voice exciting, friendly, silly, or direct and straightforward? Have a guideline on how copy should be used helps keep your company voice consistent across all platforms of communications.

For help in getting started, Here’s how we ATAK brand identity.

All the elements of your brand identity add up to how you’re perceived by the world. Remember that a brand identity kit is nothing if it doesn’t circle back to you mission statement—your “why.” Thus, each part should be carefully deliberated so that they go back in support of that one unifying message. A brand identity kit helps keep these elements clearly defined and accessible to anyone who may have a hand in your business’ marketing efforts.

Must-Have Magento Extensions for 2017

Out of the box, Magento is already a powerful ecommerce platform. The biggest challenge ecommerce businesses encounter trying to manage their own Magento stores is its complexity.

Thanks to Magento’s dedication to staying open source, the portability of its code mean that independent developers can create tools that help users and businesses get the functionality they need from Magento, and smooth over complications that they’re not interested in.

We develop Magento ecommerce stores every day for clients big and small. Just like no two stores are the same, there are store owners who desire different levels of hands-on interaction with their ecommerce store.

Some of the tech savvy ones can’t wait to dig into the UI and learn everything, but most of our Magento ecommerce clients need their ecommerce store to fit their busy schedule. Magento needs to work for customers, and be easily edited and updated.

That’s why it’s important to choose extensions that will make your website work for customers: easy to navigate, quick to load, and as interactive as modern ecommerce customers expect.

Top Magento Plugins for Simplifying Ecommerce

Website Firewall, Anti-Hacking, and Security: Magefence

If your site is down because it’s been hacked, you’re going to lose customer trust as well as SEO cachet. Protect your rankings and customer confidence with an extension that will be your ecommerce bodyguard. MageFence provides you information and warnings, and can give you Two-Step Verification, adding an extra layer of security to your store dashboard.

Ebay and Amazon Feed Exposure: Magento Feed Manager

One store isn’t always enough for the ecommerce marketplace. Adding your product feed to trusted sites like Google Shopping, Amazon, and Ebay, this feed manager builds a database of your products, and regularly uploads this with these ecommerce giants. Increase your potential audience size easily and automatically.

Page Speed for SEO and Customers: Warp Full Page Caching

Your store’s load time can have a chilling effect on your sales if it’s taking too long. Speed up your load time, and lose fewer customers. A caching plugin will allow you to put up site pages without having to spend as much time testing and tweaking for better load speeds. Warp is a perennial favorite.

Wholesale and Retail Pricing: Customer Specific Products

If your store offers wholesale pricing to other businesses, and separate retail pricing to customers, this is a must-have plugin. Manage your wholesale and retail operations from a single store with Customer Specific Products, and control the pricing that is available to different customer types.

Special Discounts and Promotions: Discount Links 

Make the purchase process simpler than ever with a plugin to simplify your sales and promotions. With this plugin from Themezaa, generate links which can automatically apply discounts when clicked. Don’t lose sales to discount confusion!

This plugin will also generate a report based on discount codes, to make your future marketing decisions even easier (but more on that later).

Personalized Product Recommendations: Automatic Related Products

When a customer is already making one purchase, it becomes easier to get them to add a second – as long as you can put the correct secondary product in the right place.

More Detailed Product Information: Product Videos

Delivering self-hosted video can be a real drag on load times. A plugin that makes it easy to embed video from outside sources simplifies the delivery of product video. This plugin can pull videos straight from Youtube, so that you can add influencer reviews of your products just as easily as your own videos!

Simplified Shopping Menus: Fast Navigation

Granular product navigation helps your customers find just what they’re looking for. This plugin makes navigation faster and easier for customers, with AJAX-powered menus that make selecting multiple attributes much faster.

Integrate Magento & WordPress Search: Product Search

If your website uses both Magento and WordPress, it’s necessary that your search extension bridges the gap between these platforms. Sphinx search makes this fast and easy, preventing customer frustration and abandoned carts.

Ecommerce Email with Great Data: Mailchimp + Mandrill

Mailchimp’s Mandrill service allows you to send easy and well-designed transactional ecommerce emails. Mandrill also allows you to market to customers automatically with abandoned cart, follow-up, and VIP customer emails. See our suggestions for ecommerce email automation workflows.

Better Store and Sales Data: Power Dashboard

Good decisions come from good data! The default Magento dashboard doesn’t make important store and sales data as accessible as some of the better extensions. Power Dashboard makes sales and product breakdowns much more accessible and visually appealing.

One of the reasons Magento is a core platform at ATAK is the variety and flexibility of its extension marketplace. Without the open source community, Magento wouldn’t be as robust or versatile as we expect it to be now.

Choosing Magento Extensions

Extensions with a great track record of stability and support make life easier for everyone involved in a web development project, from developers to ecommerce store managers.

On the fence about Magento? We wrote an ebook dedicated to why we love Magento, called Why Ecommerce Stores are Graduating from Shopify to Magento. Get it here!

Is Your Website an Internet Relic?

Getting a new website live can feel like a gargantuan effort. For many business owners, once a new site is live, it’s something that they no longer concern themselves with. As time passes, website functions and expectations change. If your business website has been left on the shelf, it may have gathered a bit of dust in the meantime.

The Symptoms of an Internet Relic


Can You Edit and Update Your Site?


In 2017, a website needs to be a document that can be easily edited and updated. A content management system is the basis of most websites, but it wasn’t a few years ago. If you can’t easily update the text on the pages of your website yourself, it might be time to have a more modern website to be built.

Our preferred website content management system is WordPress, which is open source and user-friendly. This way, business owners can keep their website up to date, and add their expertise to their website through a blog. It’s a great way to promote events, and changes in your industry, as well as get some search engine traffic benefits.


Does Your Website Support Mobile Phones?


If your website can’t be visited easily from a mobile phone or tablet, you’re in relic territory.  A responsive website is a must-have for modern search traffic and website visitors. If you do only one of these – fix this!


Is Your Website Interactive?


It’s important to decide what an interactive website means for your company. For some, this means that an interested customer can enter their information into a form to send an inquiry to your sales team. Usually for a business-to-business website, this means contact forms, some email automation, and blog commenting.

When it comes to a website with a more social focus, like a retail ecommerce business, interactivity can go to a whole new level. Interactive websites can personalize a visitor’s experience every time they come back to the website. For a clothing site, this may involve the proper seasonal selections, international currency options, and remembering a customer’s clothing sizing preferences.

Basic interactivity is now the expectation for any website – customers want a way to contact your organization, and a way to explore what you offer, sell, or do. If you don’t add interactivity to your website, you may be losing customers to sites that provide it.


Can Your Website Give You Data?


Modern marketing needs information to survive! Google Analytics is a free baseline for collecting website visitor information. Google analytics can be used for SEO, but it can also provide information about the paths visitors take on your website, and how they take the actions that your organization needs for online lead generation.

Website data can be collected beyond google analytics with tools that provide heatmaps, live chat to offer an instant customer contact, as well as advertising tools that can help you understand your digital audience.


What To Do If Your Website is an Antique


So, it turns out you’re holding an aging website in your databases. What’s the next step?

First things first: Think about what you want your website to be able to achieve. Your website can get sales, generate new leads, educate visitors, provide content, and nearly any other goal you can think of – as long as your marketing team can help you communicate that goal to your customers.

Next, do a little competitor research. What is your biggest competition doing with their website?

Don’t get too deep into assuming everything they’re doing on their website is working, but do take note of common features, language, and functionality in these websites.

After that comes a fun step: what website styles fit your company? Look at some popular websites and think about the parts of their design and functionality that you really enjoy. How can you translate that to fit your brand?

Finally, find the right partner to build it. With whichever web design agency you choose, make sure the communication is clear and you know exactly what you are getting. A good web design company will explain what is in the project scope and which opportunities exist outside of it. Lastly, you want to develop a long-term relationship with the company that builds your website, so before moving forward, consider the personalities of the team involved and make sure you want these people in your professional life.


In the Meantime…


A website redesign can also be a great time to refresh your brand identity, your branding materials, and the way you talk about what you do. The right agency can make this part of a new website design, creating merchandising and content marketing opportunities that will connect customers with your new branding.

In the end, an old website isn’t the end of the world – but it could mean that you are missing out on business opportunities to competitors with a more responsive, interactive digital presence. It’s not about following every new trend anymore; having a great website is something nearly any company should be able to do for its customers.


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