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Laurel Teuscher

Pros & Cons of the Top 5 Ecommerce Platforms

By | eCommerce | No Comments

From ease of use to offered themes and everything in between, we break down the good and the bad on the top 5 ecommerce platforms (in no specific order) so you can successfully start and run your own ecommerce store.

1. WooCommerce

screenshot of WooCommerce platform

Powering 39% of the world’s online stores (according to their website), it’s clear WooCommerce is liked and used by many in your same shoes, which is a good sign for you.

Pros

  • Free WordPress plugin
  • Easy to use if you’re familiar with WordPress
  • Able to use basically any WordPress theme you want (thousands to choose from)
  • Built-in payments via PayPal and Stripe, while also accepting checks, bank transfers and cash on delivery payments
  • Unlimited products and product categories
  • Hundreds of plugins available
  • No limitations to how you can monitor your store
  • You have total control over your data
  • Offers various plugins to help your site be better optimized for SEO

Cons

  • As an open source software it’s free, but you have to pay third-party sites to actually run your ecommerce store (pay for hosting, SSL certificate and domain).
  • The process of setting it up can take a few hours, depending on your web knowledge. You have to get a domain name, sign up for a hosting account, install WordPress and then install a WordPress theme before you can install the WooCommerce plugin.
  • File storage is limited by your web host

2. Shopify

screenshot of Shopify platformBased on current popularity, Shopify is the clear winner amongst its ecommerce platform peers.

Ecommerce platforms popularity comparison graph[Screenshot from ecommerce-platforms.com]

So what makes Shopify the “it” platform right now? And what are its imperfections that so many are able to overlook? Let’s take a look.

Pros

  • Easy to set up (seriously, you can be done in minutes)
  • Offers more than 100 high-quality, fashionably sleek themes
  • Cheap, straightforward pricing for new businesses ($29/month for the basic option)
  • Can try the platform for free for 14 days
  • Offers numerous free features, i.e. unlimited file storage, social media integration, unlimited number of products, daily backups, blog module, site stats, product reports and more
  • Can use it online and offline
  • Allows for various payment options, i.e. PayPal, Stripe, bank deposits and cash on delivery
  • Known for its superior customer care, 24/7 access to a customer adviser

Cons

  • Only about 20 of their store templates are free. The others can run as high as $180.
  • Advanced Shopify option costs $299/month
  • If you don’t use Shopify Payment, you get charged an additional transaction fee on each sale.
  • Shopify, not you, controls your ecommerce store and site’s data
  • Uses liquid markup language, meaning system customizations are possible, just for additional costs

3. BigCommerce

screenshot of Bigcommerce platformBigCommerce merchants have a 28% annual growth rate, about 2 times the industry average (according to BigCommerce’s site), and works with big-name companies like Toyota and Camelbak. See why these businesses and others trust their company with BigCommerce.

Pros

  • No hosting, update or maintenance expenses
  • Not charged a transaction fee
  • Clear dashboard and direction to easily build your site in a few, short minutes
  • Offers unlimited products, bandwidth and staff accounts
  • Provides a comprehensive list of built-in features, i.e. coupons, newsletters, tax system, customized shipping, analytics and more
  • Very SEO-friendly
  • Pricing is similar to others, with their standard plan costing $29.95/month
  • Receive customer support through phone, email, live chat or the forum

Cons

  • Lack of free themes compared to other platforms
  • Recurring billing isn’t built right into the platform
  • Annual limit on sales volume with each plan

4. Magento

screenshot of Magento platformAround 300 stores currently use Magento, like Coca-Cola and Burger King. It’s a great platform for enterprise-level businesses, but also offers perks for new businesses wanting to grow.

Pros

  • Seamless user experience
  • Scalability
  • Open source platform, meaning there’s a lot you can customize
  • Offers thousands of apps and extensions, including a free social extension so you can sell on social media
  • No charge to download the software
  • No transaction fees
  • Allows for an unlimited number of products
  • Offers more than 100 free themes
  • 100% SEO-friendly

Cons

  • Being an open source platform, it can make customization complex, so you might have to hire a good developer, unless you’re really tech-savvy
  • Self-hosted so you have to find and pay for a hosting provider and domain name
  • Doesn’t offer access to a 24/7 support person, but there are support forms you can check out

5. Volusion

screenshot of Volusion softwareVolusion is known to help out smaller startup ecommerce companies. Read on to see if it offers what you need to succeed.

Pros

  • Only costs $15/month for their mini plan
  • Can try it for free for 14 days
  • No transaction fees
  • Good marketing features
  • Intuitive interface
  • Simple frontend
  • Responsive design
  • Social media options so you can sell and share online
  • Can set up a customer loyalty program
  • Can integrate to sell on Amazon and eBay as well
  • Offers 24/7 support through different formats

Cons

  • Not too many awesome design options (28 free themes, 88 paid ones)
  • Really need coding knowledge if you’re going to change the design or layout of any of your site pages
  • Limited add-ons
  • Restricted bandwidth (1GB to 35GB based on plan) and has overage fees
  • Limited number of products on 3 of their 4 plans

Knowing what your shop’s goals are, what you need and what you can live without, and using our helpful pro-con list, you can decide which ecommerce platform is the best fit for your business.

Website Audit Header Image

Digital Marketing for Universities: Website Audit

By | Digital Marketing for Universities | No Comments

In our first post we discussed why colleges and universities need to pay attention to digital marketing, now we will discuss some key initiatives for achieving success moving forward.

Before you start any digital marketing efforts, you need to ensure that the website is fundamentally sound. Moreover, that it’s easily crawlable by search engines, both from a technical and content perspective. A comprehensive website audit reveals the full landscape of your university’s website as it stands today.

Conducting a website audit will also reveal any issues impeding incoming traffic, search engine visibility, and so much more. In almost every website audit performed at Stryde, we uncover at least a handful of issues that need to be addressed. For example, take a look at a crawl report for the University of Phoenix’s website.

Please note that University of Phoenix is not a client of Stryde, and this is only for analysis purposes.

Please note that University of Phoenix is not a client of Stryde, and this is only for illustrative analysis purposes only.

A comprehensive website audit consists of two parts:

  1. Technical SEO Audit
  2. Site Optimizations & Implementation

Both of these parts make up the core of search engine optimization (SEO). As Google has explained, “Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.”

Technical SEO Audit

The function of the technical SEO audit is just as you might expect: ensure that search engine crawlers are able to access your webpages . In other words, the elements you analyze here aren’t visible to the casual website visitor. These elements occur behind the screen in the code and other crannies of the website to communicate with the search engines.

A typical technical SEO audit includes analysis of the following key components:

  • General technical issues
  • URL conventions
  • Information architecture
  • Page consolidation

General Technical Issues

There exists a plethora of technical aspects to websites, influencing what visitors see, how they get there, what search engines see, etc. Some most important areas to include in your own technical website audit are HTML markup issues, audit page load times, review canonicalization, server response codes, crawl errors, 404 handling, IP region and Whois location data.

URL Conventions

URLs are not all equal: some are good and some are bad. A ‘good’ URL structure will be logical, clear, lack parameters and be representative of the page’s purpose. When the URL structure is optimized to label page content and establish hierarchy, search engines and users understand the topic, relevance, and importance of every single page on your website. For example,

  • Bad URL Structure: http://www.phoenix.edu/colleges_divisions/business.html (current URL on phoenix.edu)
  • Good URL Structure: http://www.phoenix.edu/study/business

Information Architecture & Page Consolidation

After an appropriate URL structure is determined, you need to optimize the labeling and organization of your website’s content to conform to search engine guidelines, as well as improving the usability and contextual relevance for your website’s real human visitors. During this time, you’ll also want to review your website for superfluous pages. Consolidating your website’s page to include only what is relevant only positively serves the search engines and visitors to your website.

As you review the university’s website with information architecture in mind, it’s important to consider the algorithmic approach used by search engines to dissect, analyze, and categorize content.

Pertinent signals used by search engines to categorize information include elements like title tags, internal links, and more. We’ll dig into these elements in the following section.

Site Optimizations

A technically sound website is only half of the complete audit process. Part two, the site optimization portion, allows search engine crawlers to associate unique keyword themes to each page on your website. By analyzing a handful of on-page factors, you can optimize each of your website’s pages to their fullest potential.

The on-page elements you should look at when carrying out site optimizations are title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, image file names, image alt attributes, and contextual internal links.

Title Tags

Every page on your site has a title tag, which functions as a descriptive snippet viewable by search engine crawlers and search engine users. It’s what shows up in search results pages, and it’s typically the first thing any user from a search engine will read about your website.

Title Tag where to find

The title tag (the text in blue) is succinct and includes keywords like online colleges, schools, and classes.

Best practices indicate that the title tag should be between 50 and 60 characters. As well as function as a concise, accurate preview of what’s on the page. The title tag should include the keyword theme of the page it represents.

Meta Descriptions

The meta description functions as a slightly more in-depth preview of the page’s content to both search engines and users of search engines. It lives below the title tag and the URL in the search results and gives users a concise synopsis of the content found within the page.

meta description where to find

The meta description (the black text) falls within the character allotment, and includes relevant keywords.

For meta descriptions, best practices dictate a character count of between 140 and 150 characters. As with title tags, you should include the unique keyword theme in where applicable in the meta description.

Heading Tags

If you think of each unique URL of your website like a book, heading tags function as the chapter titles. H1, H2, and H3 tags describe the topics of your content to the search engines. Furthermore, they allow for ease of scanability by visitors.
Heading Tags
Search engines don’t place a large amount of SEO value on heading tags. That being said, they’re still taken into consideration and provide value to human visitors to your website.

Image File Names & Alt Attributes

With all of the advanced and sometimes even artificial intelligence used by search engines, they still lack ocular capabilities. Since search engines can’t see, they use image file names and alt attributes to determine the content of visual images. Which means your image file names, and more importantly alt attributes, provide additional and critical context to search engine crawlers.

If the images on your site were uploaded with names like “IMG 3480” or something similar, you’ll at least want to give each image a descriptive alt attribute.

Contextual Internal Links

The pages of your website should support each other. One way to show this support is through contextual internal links. In the copy of your website pages, you should link (where appropriate) to other pages on your website. Not only does this show the search engines how the content of your pages work together, but it keeps the visitor clicking through pages of your website and consuming more of your content.
EDU Website internal links

What’s Next?

After you’ve performed the complete website audit process, your university’s website will be foundationally sound and ready for domination of the digital marketing world! But first, you’ll need to set your goals and strategy. You’re in luck, because our next installment of Digital Marketing for Universities, we’re going to tackle goal setting and strategy.

Here’s a look ahead at all of the upcoming Digital Marketing for Universities content:

We’ll see you soon for more! Until then, don’t hesitate to drop us a line or a comment with any challenges you’re encountering with digital marketing for universities.

2015 Year in Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Year in Review 2015

By | Industry News, Video | No Comments

As your news feeds become inundated with predictions for 2016, let’s take a look back at what unfolded in 2015 within the wild world of digital marketing.

January 1, 2015

Facebook Limits Promotional Content

Beginning in January 2015, people will see less promotional content in their News Feeds.

March 3, 2015

YouTube Spaces Further Shows Platforms Strength

By March 2015, over 10,000 videos had been created in YouTube Spaces and generated over 1 billion views and over 70 million hours of watch time.

April 22, 2015

Mobile Update AKA “Mobilegeddon”

Mobile rankings would differ for mobile-friendly sites starting on April 21st. The impact of this update was, in the short-term, much smaller than expected.

June 16, 2015

Twitter Native Videos

Twitter gives functionality to upload, edit and share videos straight from your smartphone to the platform, just as you do with photos.

September 9, 2015

Instagram Opens Worldwide Advertising Capabilities

Instagram ads, previously available only in 8 countries, now are available in more than 20 others. Including Italy, Spain and India.

September 27, 2015

Google Announces Customer Match and Universal App Campaigns

Google introduces new advertising capabilities including upload email lists to reach new and existing customers across Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube.

October 25, 2015

RankBrain

Google executives unveiled their advancements in artificial intelligence by revealing the technology that’s been processing a large portion of its search queries.

What’s next for 2016?

Never miss a milestone. Get updates right to your inbox when you subscribe to the Stryde newsletter! Just fill out the form on the right and you can forget your FOMO.

TOP 50 digital marketers 2016

Top 50 Digital Marketing Experts

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

Some time ago, we featured the top SEO, social media, and content marketing experts in three special posts on the Stryde blog. However, we all know how fast the world changes online. Experts fall out of favor, new voices emerge with innovative ideas, which means a changing landscape of industry experts to follow.

Which, of course, means a brand new list of experts for 2016 needs careful crafting! That’s exactly what the Stryde team has done here. Instead of breaking the world of digital marketing into silos, we know that the best strategy is a holistic one. Accordingly, we’ve amassed the top experts in digital marketing for 2016. To determine individuals included, we used things like Twitter followers, frequency and quality of interactions in the social realm, breadth and depth of experience, insight sharing, as well as impact on the industry as a whole.

By no means is this list exhaustive! Furthermore, it is listed in alphabetical order.

Alex Mandossian, CEO & Founder of Marketing Online

Over nearly three decades of tireless work in the internet marketing field, Alex Mandossian has earned the nickname ‘Warren Buffet of the Internet.’ Need we say more?

Amanda Maksymiw, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Lattice Engines

Amanda Maksymiw has amassed a hoard of awards over her 7 plus years in the digital marketing realm. You can find her contirbuting expert content to Content Marketing Insititute and MarketingProfs.

Amber Naslund, SVP Marketing at Sysomos

The success earned by Amber Naslund is only matched by her larger-than-life personality. Naslund’s passion for social media as a driver for change sets her and her company apart in the digital realm.

Amy Porterfield, Social Media Strategist at Amy Porterfield, Inc.

If Facebook was a language, Amy Porterfield would be highly fluent. Porterfield has helped countellss companys large and small demistify marketing on Facebook, and experience real results.

Ann Handley, Head of Content at MarketingProfs

In the content marketing world, Ann Handley needs no introduction. As the head of content for MarketingProfs and consistent contributions to Entreprenuer Magazie, LinkedIn Influencer Program, and Huffington Post, Handley’s ability to transform her thoughts into wonderful pieces of content knows no bounds.

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist at Marketing Interactions

Ardath Albee’s 30 years of experience give her a one-of-a-kind perspective on the digital marketing landscape. Albee’s focus is, and always has been, conntecting the process and people together.

Arnie Kuenn, CEO of Vertical Measures

A highly recognizable face in digital marketing is Arnie Kuenn. He frequently displays his knowledge from working with the worlds top brands like CBS and NBC at numerous speaking events across the country.

Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google

Avinash Kaushik’s book, Web Analytics 2.0, is standard introductory reading for anyone involved in the digital marketing space. Through that bestseller and others, Kaushik is a highly respected voice on how to leverage data to alter their digital existence.

Barry Feldman, Founder at Feldman Creative

Barry Feldman is no stranger to accolades, he’s been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by the Online Marketing Institute and as one of the 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by Linkedin.

Chris Goward, Founder of WiderFunnel

When the biggest companies in the world want to optimize their online presence, they call Chris Goward. He and his team at WiderFunnel supercharge business’ web and mobile driven sales.

Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor at MarketingLand

For over a decade, Danny Sullivan has been the go-to expert for web masters, marketers, and everyday web users alike. Sullivan is a true SEO pioneer, it’s as simple as that.

Diane Rayfield, Founder of Harp Social

Speaking of pioneers, Diane Rayfield was one of the first 40 people in the entire world to become certified in social media marketing. Rayfield provides customized social media training, and anyone lucky enough to learn from the master should take the opportunity!

Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-founder at Velocity

Velocity touts itself as the “B2B marketing agency to the stars.” With content marketing expert Doug Kessler as creative director, it is sitting comfortably in this position.

Dr. Pete Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

Dr. Pete Meyers sticks to the belief that the best ideas and data are useless unless they can be clearly communicated. Dr. Pete is on a mission to make data cool, and we think he’s doing a pretty amazing job.

Duane Forrester, VP Organic Search Optimization at Bruce Clay, Inc.

With nearly 20 years and two books under his belt, Duane Forrester’s expertise cannot be denied. Few individuals are as well versed in direct search marketing and online marketing as Forrester has proved to be time and time again.

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia

Gary Vaynerchuck and his agency, VaynerMedia, remains to be a rare breed. Helping Fortune 500 companies find their social voices and build their digital brands through storytelling.

Greg Sterling, VP Strategy and Insights at Local Search Association

The depth of Greg Sterling’s industry knowledge is astounding. But Sterling isn’t content on resting on previous insights, he’s constantly refining what it means to be a ‘local search guru’.

Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva

A member of the board of trustees for WikiMedia Foundation, brand ambassador for Mercedes Benz USA, and chief evangelist of Canva, Guy Kawasaki has been and remains to be an expert in online activities. If you haven’t used Canva yet, you seriously need to check it out.

Ian Anderson Gray, Founder of Seriously Social

Ian Anderson Gray is armed with over 10 years of experience helping everyone from individuals to large organizations achieve a successful online presence. Gray’s training as a professional singer gives him a unique communication ability to transform technical jargon to beautiful music.

J-P De Clerck, Consultant and Analyst at i-SCOOP

Since 1992, J-P De Clerck has worked passionately at the intersection of technology, marketing, and management. Clerck’s ‘connected’ view of business gives him a unique and valuable viewpoint on strategic planning.

Jason Falls, SVP at Elasticity

Speaker, educator, strategy, to consultation, Jason Falls does it all. Most notably is Falls work on Jim Beam’s “The Remake” video contest, which won a 2009 SAMMY Award for best cross media campaign.

Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert

Attempting to summarize Jay Baer’s experience here would be a futile effort. Legendary speaker, New York Times best selling author, and most of all, a digital marketing success story.

Jim Boykin, Founder & CEO of Internet Marketing Ninjas

Founder and a regular speaker on the industry conference circuit, Jim Boykin’s extensive list of areas of expertise is impressive, to say the least. Boykin and the team at Internet Marketing Ninjas pride themselves on being recognized industry thought-leaders.

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute

We use the word “content marketing” because of Joe Pulizzi. He started using the term in 2001 and founded the leading content marketing education resource for enterprise brands, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

John Bell, Enterprise Digital Marketing at Travelers

Travelers selected the expert mind of John Bell to drive it’s Enterprise Digital Marketing. A smart move, Bell is constantly designing new ways to market and how to execute each flawlessly.

John Doherty, Founder & Consultant at Credo

John Doherty has plenty of technical marketing experience, which only serves to heighten his ability to help businesses grow their business. Doherty’s company, Credo, is focused on bringing transparency to the consulting process.

Jose Maria Gil, Founder of EMO Marketing

Jose Maria Gil is one of the most passionate individuals in the internet marketing world. Gil truly loves what he does, and urges everyone he works with to dare to try new things and live without fear of making mistakes.

Krishna De, Strategist, Mentor & Professional Speaker at Biz Growth Media

With a truly global viewpoint, Kirshna De knows how to grow businesses internationally. De frequently speaks at industry conferences across Europe.

Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream

Is Larry Kim the busiest person in digital marketing? We wouldn’t bet against it. Kim has brought countless tools to marketers that they would consider ‘irreplaceable,’ and consistently shares his unique insight as a columnist at Inc. Magazine and Search Engine Land.

Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing

Lee Odden is no internet marketing spring chicken, he’s been involved in the industry since the late 1990s. Now, Odden shares his expertise with marketers at countless speaking engagements across the country and builds marketing strategy for his clients at TopRank Online Marketing.

Maria Pergolino, VP Marketing at Apttus

Before joining Apttus, Maria Pergolino was a key leader and early member of the Marketo Marketing Team. She has extensive expertise in marketing automation, campaign optimization, inbound and social media marketing.

Mark Schaefer, Chieftain at Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Creator of one of the top marketing blogs the world over, Mark Schaefer backs up his success with advanced degrees in marketing and organizational development. Schaefer is an authority on social media and has even appeared on several national TV shows.

Michael A. Stelzner, Founder of Social Media Examiner

Michael Stelzer is the man behind the curtain at some of the most popular social media events, including Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Success Summit. In addition, Stelzer is the author of several books and a valued voice in the social media industry.

Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group

Not only does Michael Brenner have nearly 20 years of experience serving a multitude of industries, he strongly believes in the power of a customer-centric culture and creating highly engaged employees. Michael also serves as the managing editor of SAP’s Business Innovation blog and contributes to Forbes AdVoice and the Economist.

Michelle Robbins, Vice President of Technology at Third Door Media

Michelle Robbins brings a holistic view of technology, programming, web developing, and marketing together into an innovative package. As the master behind all of the Third Door Media brands, Robbins industry knowledge and execution is unmatched.

Mike Filsaime, Online Marketing Expert at mikefilsaime.com

Mike Filsaime’s internet entrepreneurial expertise has earned him the description, ‘Michael Jordan of Internet Marketing.” Just like MJ, Filsaime has remained a powerful force in innovative marketing strategies for many years.

Mitch Joel, President of Mirum Agency

“One of North America’s leading digital visionaries.” That’s just one way Mitch Joel has been described. Joel’s experience includes working on the very first search engine and building the very first search marketing strategies.

Neil Patel, Entrepreneur at QuickSprout

Also in the running for busiest person in digital marketing, Neil Patel is constantly finding new ways to display his insane eye for digital marketing and analytics. Patel co-founded some of the biggest assets for those doing business online: Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics.

Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo at AppSumo

Noah Kagan’s approachable and laid-back style only adds likability to his clearly extensive web knowledge. Promoting cool stuff, making awesome things, and eating plenty of tacos, Kagan is undeniably enviable.

Pam Dyer, Marketing Chief at Agile Alliance

Pam Dyer prides herself on becoming the voice of the customer, which is probably why her strategy and execution is always immaculate. Dyer’s love for collaboration and networking only add to her industry prowess.

Pam Moore, CEO of Marketing Nutz

Pam Moore actively participates in speaking, training, and custom workshops. Moore is constantly recognized for her achievements, and is included on Forbes Top 5 Women Influencers in Social Media as well as the Top 10 Influencers in Social Media.

Rebecca Lieb, Author, Speaker & Strategic Advisor at rebeccalieb.com

At the forefront of digital marketing since it’s inception, Rebecca Lieb is a high-profile and respected analyst. Lieb’s understanding of marketing and media for global technology companies is unmatched in the field.

Scott Stratten, Owner at Un-Marketing

Scott Stratten’s term “Un-Marketing” is all about positioning yourself as a trusted expert in front of your target market. Then, when a need arises, customers choose you. Stratten and his team have seen this idea through from inception to industry-wide acceptance.

Seth Godin, Author, Speaker & Much, Much More at sethgodin.com

Not only an author, but also an entrepreneur, marketer, and seasoned public speaker, Seth Godin is a big freaking deal. With classic quotes like “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible,” Godin is one of the top experts in the online space.

Shiv Singh, SVP Global Head of Digital & Marketing Transformation at Visa

Shiv Singh has nearly 20 years of experience in building powerful worldwide brands. Recently, Singh was recognized as number 11 on Adweek’s Top 50 Marketers list and The Internationalists’ Top 100 Influential Leaders list.

Stephanie Tilton, B2B Content Marketing Consultant at Savvy B2B Marketing

Few people understand the holistic effort required to successfully execute a content marketing campaign. Stephanie Tilton, however, is one of the few that understand that fact completely. Not only does Tilton help craft content that engages customers and advances the buying cycle, but she helps formulate buyer personas and carry out content mapping.

Steve Pailthorpe, CEO of Iconic Digital

As the CEO of London’s premier digital marketing firm, Steve Pailthorpe’s results-driven mindset helps his clients achieve continuous success. Pailthrope’s passion for connecting companies with the right resources to communicate their brand sets him and his agency, apart.

Tom Pick, B2B Marketing Consultant at Webbiquity

Tom Pick is solely responsible for increasing his clients visibility and success online. Over the years, Pick’s efforts have aided single-person businesses to $1 billion corporations.

Tristán Elósegui, Cofounder of El Arte de Medir

Tristán Elósegui specialities in strategy, web analytics, and social media have been honed since he began in 1999. Today, you can find Elósegui authoring books, teaching digital marketing, and sharing his insights on his personal blog.

Vanessa Fox, CEO of Keylime Toolbox

Vanessa Fox is an SEO consultant, blogger, and author. Fox has been named one of Seattle’s Top 40 Under 40, Top 25 Innovators and Entrepreneurs, and one of the Top 100 Seattle Women in Seattle Tech.

Who did we miss?! Please share his or her name in the comments!

Rebranding Your Business In 2016: 5 Things To Consider

By | Branding | No Comments

The most overused tagline for advertising around the new year is “New Year, New You.” Moving to a new year suggests to us that we can start over and do some things differently. For businesses, a new year means new budgets and new strategies.

For some businesses, it means building a new identity through rebranding.

When discussing a rebrand, it’s important to look at your business and the industry to see what changes have happened. Rebranding is not something that should be done frivolously, because it is expensive and will have a lasting impact on your business. As such, it is in your business’s best interest to consider your reasons for rebranding. A rebrand does not provide your business with the direction and purpose; it happens because you have both of those. Maybe what your business needs is a refresh.

As you consider the reasons for rebranding, look at these five areas and the predictions for 2016 to help you not only decide whether to rebrand, but also know how to do it successfully.

Demographic Shifts Among Consumers

Demographic shifts are happening regularly as new groups step to the forefront armed with buying power and new consumer trends. Appealing to this new group of consumers is one of the most compelling reasons for a business to rebrand.

Many businesses have been content to market to those originally called Baby Boomers. Now known as the Aging Boomers, this consumer group will shift into an elderly group who are more concerned about living off their retirement fund and spending their fixed income on health care and other essential products. Your business will not be able to survive if you continue marketing to the same consumers.

Many businesses have already recognized this and tweaked their marketing to reach a new growing group known as millennials. Studies are predicting that by 2017, this consumer group will be spending $200 billion annually. If you are not reaching this group by next year, you will have lost your opportunity.

As you build your plan for rebranding, it is important to learn from your consumer and understanding how your brand will be relevant to them.

  • What do millennials value?
  • Do these value align with our brand?
  • What problems does our brand solve for millennials?

These are some questions to consider to help you determine how your brand can continue to market your products long-term to Millennials. You may discover that all your business needs to is to revitalize and create a new campaign that speaks directly to this new audience.

Personification of Your Brand

Your brand is more than your logo or your business’s name — it is your business’s identity. Going through rebranding process means that you need to give your brand an identity, complete with a personality, values and interests. Determining WHO is your brand is the only way to start differentiating your business from others in the industry.

There are various ways to identify your brand’s personality. These exercises can have you finding the car or celebrity that is most similar to your brand. For some businesses, personification leads to the creation of an easily identifiable character like the Aflac Duck or the Keebler Elves.

One of the most important brand characteristics for millennials is whether or not the brand fits their personality. Your business needs to have your brand personified in a way that will invite your new customer base in and make them just as loyal as they were before the rebrand. When you take a minute and strategically engineer your brand’s personality, you see what kind of customer experience you want to shape. This process will help you plan your strategy and define other aspects of your rebranding including communication.

All-Encompassing Communication

When you see your customer experience laid out, it becomes easier to identify every touchpoint for your new customer base. The most noticeable touchpoint is always the tone of the new brand’s communications directly to the customers.

The biggest headache for consumers is when a rebrand happens. There is a sense of betrayal as their favorite brand tosses aside everything that they used to know and love to try and get a new audience. The way your business communicates the story for the rebranding will determine your success of maintaining your current customer base while bringing in a new one.

A shining example of navigating this post-rebrand customer communication was displayed by Utah marketing agency Eli Kirk  following its recent acquisition of Riser and the rebrand that followed. The merging of the two firms into EKR meant merging customer bases, as well. Bill Brady, President and CMO of EKR, and his team knew that communication would be critical during the transition.

Accordingly, Brady and the folks at EKR crafted 50 case studies to serve as the foundation of the brand’s new website. Clients from both sides of the merger are featured in the content, so both groups  feel a continued partnership with the agency while gaining exposure to its expanded capabilities and clientele. Brady attributes an extremely smooth merger to the process of creating content that would make all clients feel at home while getting them excited about new possibilities for their own brands. “The content we created has made the transition extremely smooth. We haven’t dropped a single client—everyone is really excited about what’s happening,”   he said.

EKR case studies screenshots

The story is critical to be communicated, but also the tone and voice of the new brand will be the consistent thread to carry customers through the rebranding experience. Your customer needs to know from the beginning that their important values are not lost in this new direction.

Ever-expanding Technology

Technology has continued to play a big part in any business’s future. From the launch of Apple Pay this year and to the rise of Snapchat, there is always going to be a new channel or a new technology tool that will be adopted by your customers and may affect your business model. During the rebranding process, your business has to look into the future and consider how people may be communicating in the future.

This year, many websites were hit with Mobilegeddon and most experts express that this is only the beginning. If you haven’t considered mobile technology for your product or even website, you are already behind the crowd. When your business rebrands, you can make the changes to help your business grow in a new direction more quickly than if you had tried to do a refresh.

Content Remains King

Regardless of all these changes and meetings you are having, your content still reigns as king in the castle and cannot be neglected. Remember EKR’s case studies? Through content you will effectively communicate your new identity to your new consumers. You must make sure that your content remains true to your business’s values and purpose.

The rebranding process can also give you the chance to expand beyond your current content media and channels to your new audiences. Old Spice turned their business around and built a YouTube channel by rebranding through a campaign. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” video has now received almost 52 million reviews and their YouTube channel has amassed over 500,000 followers. Old Spice realized their rebrand opened new doors to sharing their content that made more sense for the new millennial audience.

The new year is a few weeks away and while others may be rushing to finish holiday gift shopping and plan budgets for 2016, it’s a great time for your business to take a minute and consider whether it’s time to rebrand. Or as others say, “Out with the old, and in with the new.”

RankBrain Update

RankBrain: 5 Things We Know About Google’s New AI Aide

By | Search Marketing, SEO | One Comment

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, Bloomberg’s Jack Clark broke some serious news regarding how Google processes search queries. If you’re familiar with SEO, you know that any insight Google gives into its inner workings is as priceless as it is rare. But after posting better than projected earnings, Google’s executives were in the mood to spread some love.

After dissecting the article and the insight from Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google, here’s what we know about the company’s artificial intelligence advancements:

1. What RankBrain actually is.

RankBrain is the first glimpse into Google’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities. After the written input is converted into numerical data, the computer can identify those strings of which it is unfamiliar with and hypothesize other strings that share similar characteristics.

“RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly.”

The key to RankBrain (and all artificial intelligence) is the ability to learn. This signal can identify patterns and insights once only detectable by people.

2. RankBrain is handling a large portion of Google’s search queries.

Google sees approximately 3.5 billion search queries every single day. Would you believe that 15 percent of those, or 525 million queries, it has never encountered before? RankBrain is a large contributor to processing those 525 million queries. And it’s doing a darn good job. The company found that turning RankBrain off “would be as damaging to users as forgetting to serve half the pages on Wikipedia.”

3. RankBrain outperforms Google’s search engineers.

Further proof of RankBrain’s efficacy lies in its ability to synthesize queries with a higher rate of accuracy than its human predecessors. Google revealed that in comparative testing of query ranking, Google search engineers were correct 70 percent of the time, while RankBrain enjoyed a success rate of 80 percent.

4. RankBrain is the 3rd most important signal accounted for within Hummingbird.

We know that the algorithm Google uses to process search queries is called Hummingbird, which understands both the context and the content (the keywords) of a conversational query such as this, meaning, the words “get people to” is equal to the keyword “traffic.”

Until Sunday, all that was known about Hummingbird’s inner signaling factors was that there were ‘hundreds’ of them. While we haven’t gotten much more insight than that, Corrado did reveal an interesting piece of information about the signals within Hummingbird as a whole:

“In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query.”

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  3. RankBrain

5. ‘AI Wars’ are upon us.

Facebook and Microsoft (i.e. Bing) are already using artificial intelligence to personalize and broaden the capabilities of their search engines. Now that we’ve seen Google’s massive gains at the foot of AI capabilities, it’s only a matter of time before greater strides in AI are brought to the forefront.

Content Marketing Lessons from Oprah

3 Content Marketing Lessons From The Oprah Winfrey Show

By | Content Marketing | One Comment

The Oprah Winfrey Show went live for the first time on September 8, 1986 and became the highest-rated daytime talk show in history. The talk show host built an empire including a magazine, a radio show, a television network and a website that averages 43 million page views and 6.5 million unique users per month.

Oprah has figured out how to do what marketers only dream about—continuing to bring great content that builds and engages her audience. By the end of the 25-year run, she and her company knew what to do and have continued to build on the success of the show and her brand.

While The Oprah Winfrey Show has been off the air, the community is still there and still engaged with Oprah. These three lessons can help you to follow her and build a community that will outlast social media or the next big thing.

1. Become a Master Storyteller

Oprah did a lot of things well, but one is when she shared her own stories. She leveraged the power of storytelling to share and promote messages. It was in those moments when her audience was not only captivated, but they also empathized and embraced her. They connected to her and to the brand.

Think about your customers and consider what questions they have or what they want to know. That list will help you to start creating content for your blog and social channels, along with including a call-to-action.

Brainstorming is only the first part. Once you have those questions, start telling the story.

It can often be difficult to share stories through the written word. This is one of the reasons many businesses are relying on video to share the stories. Images and videos can share an entire story in what could take too many words. Consider all your possibilities for how to share your story, but make sure that the story is the most important part.

2. Endorse and Promote Others

While the show title was the name of the host, Oprah looked to giving others the spotlight. Her book club promoted obscure titles into best sellers. These books shared messages that were true to Oprah’s brand and messaging.

Another segment, “Oprah’s Favorite Things” exploded the sales volumes of small business, also known as the Oprah Effect. These were items that Oprah personally had tried and genuinely wanted to share with her community.

Think about your audience and what their interests are. Insights and analytics can give you a plethora of information about your users and what interests they have. It’s time to start looking at the bigger picture and seeing where your brand’s values overlap with another brand and when it is a great opportunity to partner and share. Marketers are often looking at competitors, but finding partners can expand your network.

When you start thinking this way, you’ll stop worrying about the 80/20 rule for your content and you’ll start appealing to the audience and sharing with them what’s important to the both of you.

3. Everyone Wins

One of the most epic moments of The Oprah Winfrey Show came in 2004, when she gave away cars to the entire audience attending her show.

People love to win. They feed on that impulsive high that says that they’ve accomplished something. With push notifications, users get immediate responses to our social media posts and achieve validation. Many users love the validation that comes from a brand sharing their post on their own social channels.

You want to get your buyer’s attention. Businesses focus on a sweepstakes or other giveaway event hoping to generate more likes on a page. While this is one way of doing it, you will find that once the contest is over, your engagement drops. To keep followers engaged is the next major step. This giveaway is one that people still talk about, but Oprah also was consistently giving away gifts to her audience. They may have come because she did giveaways, but they stayed for the content.

Content marketing focuses on the client and their needs. While it was on the air, The Oprah Winfrey Show consistently focused on the audience to provide them with a great experience and content that can help them. Your brand can do that to and build and strengthen your loyal community.

STRYDE | Why Video Marketing & B2B are the Perfect Match 1

Why Video Marketing & B2B are the Perfect Match

By | Video | No Comments

A picture is worth a thousand words, but can you guess the worth of a one-minute video? It’s worth 1.8 million words.

That’s enough to write a few books and still have some left over!

People love video. Perhaps it’s because they can play an observer to someone else’s story. Video has been popular online since YouTube launched and other social networks have noticed. They offer marketers analytics to help understand the performance of videos. Many have added an auto-play feature to drive more views and keep people on pages longer. In social media feeds that are filled with text and pictures, a video that plays immediately is sure to catch an eye.

Video’s Wildfire-Like Growth

Some predict that by 2017, 74% of all Internet traffic will be video. If your business hasn’t already started incorporating video into your marketing plans, it’s not too late to get started.

For B2B marketers, hearing that video marketing is on the rise may cause them to shrug and say that they don’t need it. Others look at their meager budget and wonder how they can manage it. With 90% of all B2B purchase process happening before a sales rep is involved, getting the right information to buyers is critical for success.

Customer Journey with Video

Every marketer knows how important it is to keep the attention of a customer. With only a few seconds, it’s hard to explain the best features or benefits of your product in written format. Videos can be your chance to show off your product or service visually and keeping the viewer’s attention. If given the choice of watching a video or reading an article on the same topic, a majority will choose video. This doesn’t just apply to the regular consumer, but also to business executives. Over half of business executives will visit a vendor’s website after seeing a video.

Video’s Place in the Buying Cycle

Video is most effective when your potential customer is identifying the vendors and considering what they can offer. In one survey, 96% of all respondents said that videos were helpful when making purchase decisions. This is because videos are where solutions are provided. Buyers can see the product in action and begin to visual themselves using it.

Without ever leaving the comfort of their office, customers can get a great look at the product minus the pushy sales representative looking over their shoulder trying to sell them a product. They can spend their time considering each of their options.

Besides demonstrations, businesses can use video to share testimonials. Let one of your most loyal customers talk about how amazing your product, service, or business is and share what they like best. People rely on reviews to help them purchase everything from clothes to cars. A video helps your potential customers hear how others have success and relate to others’ experience. It can also benefit your clients and help their business gain visibility.

Online video platforms allow for clickable links. You can lead customers further into the sales cycle with clear calls-to-action that happen while you still have their attention. Every video should link to relevant content on your website not only to give your customers somewhere to go, but also to improve your SEO.

Resources Needed to Get Started with Video

While some may worry about the cost of creating videos, technology has helped make it easy and more cost-effective. Slowly build your business’ video library and spread the cost over time. You don’t need to start with thousands of videos. You just need a few. You can also use the analytics from past videos to help make new videos perform better for your audience.

Filming for video marketing

Videos don’t have to be created from scratch. Consider repurposing videos from other events, when a business executive speaks at a conference or events that your business participates. Make sure every video ties to your brand and your business.

Businesses are talking about video because social networks have recognized how important the messaging tool is to users. Investing in this partnership can only help you find more customers and connect them to your products and services now and in the future.

STRYDE | 7 Elements Of Choosing A Content Marketing Agency

7 Elements Of Choosing A Content Marketing Agency

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

When you’re looking for an agency to create content that will represent you and your brand, there’s no question that you want it done right. It should be your top priority to ensure you choose the right agency with the right writers, and that they understand you and your company’s needs.

All the self-proclaimed content marketing agencies out there can make it hard to narrow down your search. Do your research and look for these seven things, though, and you’ll have great content in your hands and a new business relationship in no time.

  1. Overall business strategy and content thought leadership

The agency you choose needs, above all, to understand your business goals and cater to your company. Content marketing can have many objectives, but the strategy should be altered depending on what your goals are and how best to reach them, whether it’s through lead generation, link building, or any number of other services.

  1. Quality content on their site

Click over to the agency-in-question’s blog and ask yourself if you like what you see. As their target market, do their posts strike a chord with you and make you want to buy? Check out their ranking, their fans and followers, and their consistency. If all of these pieces appear and work well together, it shows that they walk the walk. If not, it might not be the right choice.

  1. Social media promotion strategy

Along the same lines, take a look at how the agency promotes themselves and their clients on social media. Having a social media marketing plan is a vital piece of content strategy, and while it is only one piece, it’s an important one. Are their followers growing, and are their posts getting interaction and traffic? You can expect the same results for your business, should you decide to hire this agency.

  1. Past and current client success

If the agency has some case studies available for you to see, make sure you take them up on that. One of the best ways to decide whether they will be a good fit is to look at the work they’ve done for other clients that are similar to your business. Specifically, you should watch for subject matter expertise, quality of content, and voice.

  1. Their offers will work for your company

The agency might offer plenty of services, but if they don’t have the one you’re looking for, none of those other ones matter. You know what your company needs and the last thing you want to do is go with an agency that can’t provide it. However, if they don’t offer the exact service you want, don’t be immediately dissuaded. Try reaching out to them and asking if they could provide something additional.

  1. Deliverables and results

While it will be nice to pass off some or all of the content creation to a marketing agency, therefore freeing up your time, what you really want is results. Have they proven that their efforts have increased traffic and conversions, driven brand awareness, or improved search engine rankings? How soon will you see results for your company if you decide to hire them? Consider these questions and ask for examples from the agency.

  1. You get along with the agency

Perhaps the most important piece of hiring an agency is that you enjoy working with them. If you’re not seeing eye-to-eye or understanding each other on basic issues even before you hire them, chances are, things aren’t going to change. You want someone that will be a valued and trusted business partner now and in the future.

A content marketing agency can be a huge plus for your business. They can provide an outside perspective, bring a new piece to your company that you didn’t know you were missing, and take on some of your unending workload. That’s why it’s so important to find a compatible agency that can help you meet your goals. If you’re in the market for a great agency, make sure you check us out at Stryde.com.

STRYDE | Planning Your Back to School Social Push

Planning Your Back to School Social Media Push

By | Social Media | No Comments

It’s the end of the summer and parents are counting down the days until their kids are back in school. College students are packing bags and checking off their lists of items to get things done. Even if there aren’t any students in the house, people will take advantage of the lower prices of household items and still go out to shop the sales.

The back-to-school shopping season is the second-largest seasonal shopping period of the year, following winter holidays. With “back to school,” “school supplies,” and “back to school sales” being top search terms from 2013, this is not the time of year to overlook and skip out on the potential opportunities. If you haven’t even considered using social media to promote your back-to-school products, here are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider before you’re sent to detention.

Social media has changed back to school shopping.

Peer reviews are more likely to resonate with users than expert reviews. When was the last time your friend used a social media post to ask for advice of what dentist to go to or what product to use? The networks make it easy to quickly poll and get the best information from a group of peers that you trust.

According to one survey, 64.1% of shoppers report that social media will influence their choices. Whether it’s the recognition of something they saw on a brand’s page or a post from their friend that highlighted an item, people trust their network to tell them about the best deals and the newest products.

With all of the competition, your store and brand should be leveraging your social channels to share information. Whether you give away coupons or share exclusive sales and content, you can get the word out quickly and directly to your followers.

Buy button adds a new dimension.

With the addition of the buy buttons on posts on social platforms, social networks are allowing users to bypass the regular routine of heading to a website to buy directly from the merchant on the social platform. Showcasing your products on social media can get you a sale with the user not ever leaving the platform. Use the best pictures you have of the product.

Some stores recognize that the styling of their Instagram accounts were getting people excited to make purchases, but without the buy button, they found that they couldn’t convert the sale. These stores created a microsite that shows the post and links users directly to the products. It’s a new way to shop!

Influencer marketing can drive new leads.

The power of influencers is apparent. In a recent study, YouTube stars are up to five times more influential than other celebrities. If you want to influence buying choices of teens, look to the video social platform for you new partnerships.

Target is the latest store to use social media stars to promote their back-to-school fashions. Beginning in July 2015, six ads are being released that feature some well known “kid influencers.” Each ad will focus on a different trend and a specific promotion. The stars of these ads will use their own social accounts to promote the campaign as well.

It’s not just about using these online celebrities to sell a product, you’re also able to cast a wider net and find new customers through their followers. The goal when you partner should be that you both promote the content being created and tag each other.

Keep customer service in mind.

With the beginning of school, many people can get stressed out easily. Many are overwhelmed by the long list of items that are needed. With different requirements for different ages, parents may need help keeping everything straight.

Parents aren’t the only ones to be overwhelmed! For a new college student, it can be intimidating hearing the list of items they may need. From toasters to bedding, shopping for home is an entirely different experience.

Make sure that you look to provide support both in and outside the store and use social media to watch the conversation and recognized the pain points. Many places offer pre-populated shopping lists that customers can pick up in store to personalized lists that they can create and print from home, look for ways to help your customers get through this season with little pain.

Back-to-school shopping season is that rare time before the winter holidays when you can test out some new marketing plans and gauge interest from your community. To be successful, you need to come up with your content strategy so that you can maximize the shopping season.