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Setting Goals for Digital Marketing in Universities

Digital Marketing for Universities: Goal Setting & Strategy

By | Digital Marketing for Universities | No Comments

In this installment of our Digital Marketing for Universities series, we’re going to tackle goal setting.

Setting goals seems like a simple enough task, right? For some it is, but for most of us, being able to set challenging yet attainable organizational goals over and over again doesn’t come naturally; it’s an acquired skill. It takes practice, persistence, focus, creativity and lots of fine-tuning.

So how do you set challenging, attainable goals? How many should you set? It is hard enough to stay focused on them month to month while dealing with the day-to-day operations, let a lone find time to execute the plan you have in place.

First step — don’t panic. We’re going to answer all your questions by showing you how your higher education institution should set goals and set standards across your institutional departments to actually achieve them. Here’s what we’ll cover in this post, feel free to click on any link to be taken to that section:

  1. Defining Goals
  2. Number of Goals to Set
  3. Resources Needed to Attain Goals
  4. Establish a Cohesive Front Across Departments

1. Defining Goals

How To Define Your Goals

Most of us know the five traits your goals should possess:

  1. Clear— Goals must be well defined so everyone understands them.
  2. Authentic— Goals need to be unique to your brand, relating to your institution and what you stand for.
  3. Actionable— Clear action needs to be taken to accomplish your goals.
  4. Achievable— Goals need to be realistic and attainable for those required to attain them.
  5. Time-bound— Goals need specific starting and ending times.

But how do you effectively analyze what you did the previous year? What you are going to focus on this year? And how much you can impact traffic and leads to the Universities site?

Understanding Your Data First

It is important to first begin analyzing the past performance and results of digital marketing efforts and website traffic. Here, you’ll need to head to your analytics tool. First off, you’ll want to ensure that there are filters in place to not include traffic from certain IP addresses. In addition, there needs to be annotations marked to track major events like website changes, search engine algorithm updates, media buys, and anything else that may have impacted traffic both negatively or positively.

In Google Analytics, setting up notations is easy:

  1. Head to the Admin section of Google AnalyticsGoogle Annotations Step 1
  2. Under the far right column ‘VIEW’ – All Website Data – select ‘ANNOTATIONS’Google Annotations Step 2
  3. You’ll be taken to the create annotations page, where you’ll select ‘+ NEW ANNOTATION’Google Annotations Step 3
  4. Create your annotation and select ‘Save Annotation’Google Annotations Step 4
  5. Your annotation now appears in your reports!Google Annotations Step 5

Building a Case for Projections

Google Keyword Trends

Once you have an understanding of the past data trends, you can begin to formulate goals for the upcoming year. When analyzing potential traffic growth, you should take into consideration projected search volumes for SEO and PPC. A useful tool for understanding whether a keyword or sets of keywords are being searched on more is Google Trends. For example, using Google trends you can see how the Universities brand is doing:

Google Trends

Additionally, you can compare search terms, website types, and interest as recorded by Google since 2004. You’ll also see state-by-state breakdowns and related search terms.


Analyzing Current Keyword Performance

Once you have an understanding of keyword trends in your space, you should analyze where you currently rank for the keywords you are targeting. One tool that allows you to quickly gather data is SEMRush. SEMRush can give you a quick snapshot of where you currently stand along with the potential traffic you are missing out on.

To do this, add your website into the tool and start the analysis. Once it has finished you will get a dashboard that looks something like this:

semrush getting started

The organic search section allows you to quickly see your organic position distribution:

sem rush organic keywords

This is an extremely valuable chart for quickly understanding future growth. In the example for walden.edu they have a huge potential, see details below:

organic distribution from semrush

keyword distribution table

The amount of keywords ranking in position 4 – 30 totals is 24,230 terms.

Now comes the fun part. By selecting the position distribution in the SEMRush graph you can quickly see a list of terms that fall into that bucket. For example, when I select the 4-10 bar chart the following report populates:

semrush organic search positions report

You might notice that branded keywords are pulled into the report. You can filter the results more by excluding branded keywords to clean things up a bit. The result will give you better data to analyze.

semrush organic search positions branded excluded

By filtering out branded terms you are able to export the new list and run some basic numbers. Exporting the list above you are left with 6,104 keywords ranking in position 4-10 of Google. When you add up the total search volume for all 6K+ keywords you have a potential of 937,160 monthly searches. Yes, you heard correctly, nearly 1 million searches monthly.

Monthly search volume

If Walden were to drive even 1% of the total traffic volume to their site they would drive 9,371 additional visits each month. Further, if they could convert 1% of the total traffic that would result in 93 more leads a month. This is only keywords ranking in position 4-10 of the search results. By following the same process for each group of keywords e.g.- keywords in positions 11-20, 21-30 etc. you could start to get an idea of how much potential traffic you could drive to the site month over month. Comparing that with analytics data you would start to get a picture of how much growth you could see YOY and now you have a data driven growth plan.

Online Growth and The Competitive Landscape

When projecting online growth, it helps to look into what the competition is doing . SEMrush is a fantastic online tool to identify and assess the competitive landscape:


SEMrush provides a plethora of competitor data around organic and paid keywords. It also gives you a more comprehensive viewpoint of where your university stands compared to top competitors.

Once you analyze past results and future potential, you can start to figure out projections for future growth.

2. Number of Goals to Set

We can’t tell you an exact number your institution should set. That depends on your specific objectives and overall digital marketing strategy.

But, we can tell you that you should never have too many goals you’re working on at once. Too many goals is chaotic, confusing and increases your chances of not reaching any of your goals because you don’t know where to focus your efforts.

The book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” communicates the need in every business to focus on the Widely Important Goals (WIGs). Businesses tend to focus on too many goals, because of the desire to impact everything at once.

However, the key is to focus on less and work from lead measures of success. It helps to start by selecting 1 to 2 goals that matter most to the university as a whole and focus solely on fulfilling those.

3. What You Need to Attain Your Goals

Once you have narrowed your focus to your Widely Important Goals, you need to figure out the plan to achieve them! Here’s a process we use at Stryde:

Step 1: Develop an Action Plan

Determine objectives for each of your goals, and then develop an action plan to achieve each goal. While your team develops a plan of action, ask yourselves the following questions:

  • What is our start date and deadline?
  • What does this goal entail?
  • How are we going to accomplish it?
  • What resources, i.e. people, money and materials, do we need in achieving this goal?
  • Who is responsible for completing each task?
  • How do we measure the results? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we use to track our progress?
  • What is the competition doing to impact market share?

Here, it can be particularly useful to build a quick chart to inventory the team’s capabilities and resources you have at your disposal. For example, for our team at Stryde, a snapshot of teams and a handful of the tools we have access might include:

stryde tools

Step 2: Analyze Industry-Specific Digital Landscape

It is important to analyze the digital landscape to know what is happening and how it could change over time. Things to look (and tools to look at them with) at include:

  • Keyword Rankings
  • Social Following per Channel
  • Links to Site
  • Content Frequency & Types
    • Tool to use: Google site:www.website.com
  • Content Promotion & Distribution
  • Local Citations/Business Listings
  • Email Strategy
    • Just sign up for their emails!
  • Paid Search Strategy

After you’ve analyzed the elements of the digital landscape listed above, you can construct your growth plan. Use the projections set during the goal creation process and map out a path to impacting and achieving the Widely Important Goals. A visual example of a growth plan can be found below:

path to growth

Step 3: Establish a Scorecard or Dashboard

How are you going to measure your success month to month to make sure you hit your goals? Setting up and maintaining a digital marketing dashboard is the perfect way to visualize your progress and ensure achievement of your goals. With dashboards (like the template we provide for free here) you’re able to track how revenue is performing month over month and which channels are performing the best. In addition, you’re given comprehensive performance breakdowns by device detailing sessions, transactions, and revenue.

Digital Marketing Dashboard ScreenShot

Step 4: Cadence of Accountability

Along with monitoring your results, you want to monitor who is working on what week to week and how are they performing compared to the rest of the team. This will ensure that any internal issues that need to be addressed will be tended to in a timely manner.

4. Establish a Cohesive Front Across Departments

Higher education institutions are complex organizations, consisting of several departments and teams within each department. The structural makeup of higher education institutions has a silo mentality. Each department tends to only focus on its own needs, goals and challenges.

If your institution is going to be effective at setting and achieving goals, you can’t have a silo mentality, especially when it comes to the content aspect of your digital marketing efforts. You’ll run into numerous problems if department aren’t unified.

Effective, cohesive department collaboration is key. It’s a critical component for any higher education digital marketing strategy. A combined effort of every department working together cultivates visibility across all departments and helps you more efficiently reach your goals.

There are brilliant minds in each department — use them!

Setting goals isn’t the easiest task on your plate, but when you work together with the other departments, don’t give up, focus on the process and enjoy the overall experience, it will start getting easier and you’ll be a skilled goal setter in no time.

Remember, we’re dedicating a series of blog posts to digital marketing for universities! Check out each installment here:

Here’s what on the horizon in this series:

  • Digital Marketing for Universities: Platform Identification
  • Digital Marketing for Universities: Tapping Your Content Sources
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


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?

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STRYDE | Adaptive Content-  The Latest Adaptation of Content Marketing?

Adaptive Content- The Latest Adaptation of Content Marketing?

By | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Food for thought, Our Process, Strategy, Uncategorized | No Comments

While the technology support can be a little slow to evolve, content marketing strategies and techniques are taking new shapes to identify the ideal target audience and to guide customers through a shortened sales cycle.

Adaptive content offers an edge to the creation and distribution parts of the process. This content strategy is designed to support meaningful, personalized interactions across all channels. Moreover, it’s not a strategy that is built only around the characteristics, goals, and challenges of buyer personas, but also around the mood of the buyer – Noz Urbina.

We know that personalization is key to reaching the ideal buyer. In fact, 94% of businesses say that it’s critical to their success. Here, we begin to merge a closer union between the buyer persona and sales cycle, in an attempt to reach a target so narrow, that we can understand how it feels.

The Matrix

If you already have a few content marketing campaigns under your belt, you’re probably all too familiar with creating and marketing to buyer personas. With adaptive content, there are a few more variables to consider in the Content Mix Matrix:

Content Mix Matrix
Personas Buying Stage Format Channel
Billy Awareness Text Social
Willey Attraction Video Mobile
Nilly Close Podcast Websites
Tilly Retain Infographic Email
Advocate Images Print
Presentation In-person

In this model, the content catered to the buyer persona is strategically created in the most sensible format, at the most relevant stage of the buying cycle, and distributed through the most appropriate channel.

In the content creation process, you might consider:

  • Is it better to start with a general piece of content and to later personalize it to each persona at every stage?
  • Should I start with a fleshed out piece of content and then notate which segments will be adapted to fit the next format?

This is the manual part of the equation that requires more in-depth research into, not only the buyer personas’ characteristics, but also, their personal journey and it’s up for you, the marketer, to decide what works best for your audience.

Going Green

Putting an adaptive content process into place can take a substantial amount of time but the beauty of it is that, when planned properly, adaptive content has the means to be evergreen. We have to remember to apply the R’s and when it comes to content, we do it in a most creative and practical way.


The amount of time spent on content creation can be greatly reduced when you already have a hearty piece to edit and adjust. Slim down the content that you have and focus it on just one phase of the buying cycle. The load will feel a lot lighter.


The content topics you already have are completely reusable when you promote them through a variety of channels. Social media, for instance, can serve as a great outlet for reshares; especially Twitter, where posts tend to be pushed out more regularly.


You can further stretch the reach of your content by repurposing it in various forms. Try going for something more visual by converting a whitepaper into an eye-catching infographic.


Once you have a good grasp on where your buyer personas are in the buying stage and the best channels by which to to reach them, be sure to record and recycle the process. It will always be in motion, so be flexible and make the necessary adjustments as you go along.

Adaptive Content implicates techniques that are too smart and too personalized for any tool to master alone. It is a practice that will take time to put into place, but with a clearly defined strategy and a good grasp of its fundamentals, it has the potential to be one of the most personal and powerful marketing practices yet.

Online marketing practices are always evolving. What are you seeing for the future of content marketing and how will you adapt for what’s to come?
We’d love to hear your thoughts!

STRYDE | Content, Digital, Traditional: What’s the Big Freakin’ Difference? 1

Content, Digital, Traditional: What’s the Big Freakin’ Difference?

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Since the beginning, in order for businesses to succeed, it’s been vital to market yourself — your products and services — to consumers. Marketing gets your brand out there and helps you garner sales. In the past, the only usable method was traditional marketing, but today you have the option of using traditional or digital marketing tactics, options allowing you to choose the best way to interact with your target audience.

But which do you use?

How do you even begin to make that decision?

And where exactly does content marketing fall into the spectrum?

In order to decide, you need to be knowledgeable about both. So sit back, get comfy and rid yourself of any distractions. I’m about to drop some much-needed marketing knowledge, giving you the need-to-know details that differentiate traditional and digital marketing and showing you where content marketing fits into the mix.

Traditional’s Technicalities

Traditional marketing is the most known marketing method since it’s been around the longest. It encompasses the ads we see and hear daily. The most recognizable types are print ads, TV and radio commercials, billboards, brochures and posters.

While it’s the most known method, that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect method. There’s good and bad to using traditional marketing. Let’s delve in and find out if you think the good outweighs the bad.


  • It’s the best way to reach those who don’t regularly go online or who are without Internet access, a shockingly estimated 4 billion people scattered worldwide.
  • People are accustomed to it. The traditional types are familiar activities that many people still do, i.e. watching TV and driving on highways lined with billboards.
  • It’s the ideal way to reach local audiences.


  • Results aren’t easily measured or can’t be measured at all.
  • It’s typically more costly than digital marketing.
  • It’s a static form of marketing, a one-way communication if you will. You put information in front of people, and fingers crossed, hope they take the action you want because of it.
  • Your coverage is limited in terms of audience size and timeframe. If your customers aren’t local, they aren’t seeing your marketing initiatives, and that ad in the newspaper is getting thrown away the next day when tomorrow’s paper comes out.
  • It’s a fairly long process going from concept to end product, and your end product doesn’t get into your audience’s hands instantaneously.
  • Much of our world is dependent on technology. Most of the things we do every day we can and choose to do online, i.e. bank, shop and read. Even traditional methods, like magazines and newspapers, have digital formats or are completely switching over to digital formats.

Traditional marketing versus digital marketing

Digital’s Details

Traditional marketing may be the longest-running marketing method, but that doesn’t make it the most used or preferred method. In our technologically driven world, digital marketing is making headway in the marketing world, with marketers forecasted to spend 35% of their total budgets on digital marketing by 2016.

Just like its name says, digital marketing is marketing your products and services via digital technologies to reach consumers. This marketing method uses all the Internet-based channels it can, including social media, emails, websites, banner ads, podcasts and blogs to name a few. And utilizing Internet-based channels is smart considering the number of worldwide Internet users is approximately 3,079,339,857 and 310.3 million of those users reside in North America.

Like traditional marketing, digital marketing is made up of good and bad features, but you’ll quickly see the good completely overshadows the bad.


  • Results are measurable and easier to measure.
  • You have the possibility to reach a limitless audience. You can tailor your message to target a specific audience or place it on the web for the entire world to find.
  • It’s an interactive, engaging and non-intrusive form of marketing. Companies and customers each have the chance to talk and listen because it’s a form of multi-directional communication.
  • Because this method relies on the Internet, the interactions are public so any other consumer who wants to join a conversation is able to, and can do so immediately.
  • Direct contact with consumers and businesses is provided, resulting in some valuable consumer feedback.
  • Campaigns are planned out but can be edited based on consumer feedback received along the way.
  • The information and coverage you put online is available to consumers 24/7 and forever remains online to find.
  • Gets into consumers’ hands instantaneously.
  • Digital marketing efforts have the chance to go viral.
  • Digital marketing scales, so you can do as little or as much as you want to do and stay within your budget.


  • Takes time to realize and see the measurable success of your efforts.
  • Takes time to develop your concepts and overall strategy.
  • Information you put online can quickly become outdated. Time and manpower is needed to ensure your information is regularly monitored and updated when necessary.

Content’s Components

After seeing the clear differences between traditional and digital marketing, can you pinpoint where content marketing lands in the marketing mix?

When you really think about it, high-quality content plays a part in all marketing initiatives, but in my opinion, content marketing’s main role is being at the heart of your digital marketing efforts. And I’m not the only one thinking this way as 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing. Those numbers aren’t diminishing anytime soon as 86% of marketers plan to spend more on content and a Teradata survey shows that companies plan to spend 15% of their marketing budget on content creation in 2015.

The Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” The most commonly used types of content marketing include blog posts, articles, websites, eBooks, white papers, case studies, emails, videos and webinars. The purpose of content marketing isn’t to sell; it’s to communicate with your customers and potential customers by delivering informative and relevant content to educate them.

Traditional marketing had more disadvantages than advantages, while digital marketing was the opposite. With content marketing falling under digital marketing, it makes sense that its advantages also outnumber its disadvantages.


  • Builds brand awareness.
  • Drives more inbound traffic to your website.
  • Boosts your natural link popularity.
  • Increases your leads. Content marketing generates roughly three times the leads traditional marketing does.
  • It’s the best way to nurture your leads.
  • Increases consumer engagement.
  • Cultivates trust between your brand and your audience.
  • Establishes your brand as a thought leader and voice of authority.
  • Creates brand advocates.
  • It’s cheaper to implement, costing 62% less than traditional marketing.


  • It’s meant to provide long-term impact not short-term results.
  • It’s not designed to persuade consumers to take immediate action.


While traditional and digital marketing share the same goal — attracting qualified leads and building better brand awareness — it’s clear the two are very different marketing methods, and that content marketing plays a role in each marketing initiative, although mostly with digital marketing.

I know which method I’d choose, but have you determined which is best for your business?

STRYDE | Growth by Design - The Stryde & Fit Marketing Story

Growth by Design – The Stryde & Fit Marketing Story

By | News | 2 Comments

We announced this morning that Fit Marketing has merged with Stryde! All Fit clients are now Stryde clients and the Fit team has joined forces with the Stryde team. The combined team is larger and better able to tackle bigger client projects and do even better work than the Fit or Stryde team alone was able to handle.

We wanted to take the chance to let each of the key players in each organization tell their story of how this happened and why it made sense.

Dave’s Take

I have known the leadership team at Stryde for many years. We’ve been friendly competitors for the past few years, and before that we worked together in the trenches at SEO.com. Because of that history, I trust them and I respect their marketing expertise. They are some of the smartest digital marketers I know. I know they’ll take great care of the Fit clients and employees.

How did this deal come together? Fit had grown significantly from our humble start in Owen’s kitchen to being recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the state the past few years. We were on an upward trajectory and felt like we might be able to scale up quicker by merging with other like-minded marketers, if we could find the right fit. We reached out to Greg Shuey at Stryde more than a year ago. At the time. we decided the timing wasn’t right, so we went about our business for another year and then a couple of months ago, we restarted the dialog with Stryde around a potential merger.

Around the same time we restarted the discussion with Stryde, I was approached by some good friends who had started a company called PageLaunch. They were looking for someone to come in to lead the fast-growing company. Somehow the stars aligned and it worked out that I got the offer to step into the role of CEO at PageLaunch, and we were able to work out a deal to merge Fit in with Stryde.

I will continue to advise and assist the Stryde team to make the transition as smooth as possible for the team and clients. As sad as I am to have to step away, I know that I’m leaving the company in good hands. I am confident that the new, combined company will accomplish even greater things than either company did on its own in the past — and both companies have achieved incredible results for their clients — so my expectations are sky high.

Owen put a lot of trust in me when he took me on as a partner almost three years ago. Like any business, Fit’s had its share of ups and downs through the years, but it was a fun ride and I was glad to have Owen with me each step of the way. He is a great partner and friend to have by my side. Now as we get ready to move into a new chapter of the life of Fit Marketing, we are entrusting a new generation of marketers to carry the torch. We feel good about where things are going, and we know that current and future clients will benefit from the combined expertise of the new and improved Stryde team.

The future looks bright for digital, inbound, and content marketing in Utah with Stryde leading the way.

Owen’s Take

Dave’s painted the picture well of how things have come together. Like Dave, I’m excited for the future and to see what the combined teams of Fit and Stryde can do.

As many people know, last year I stepped down as president of Fit and moved into a board member role. Professionally, I knew it was time to learn new lessons and tackle new challenges, and I found the right opportunity to do that at Qzzr. And what an exciting ride that’s been.

Now that Fit has been acquired though, while Dave is looking forward, I can’t help but reminisce a bit about what we were able to build together with all the amazing people that have worked at Fit since 2009. These are some of the highlights that come to mind:

  • More than 40 people have worked at Fit since we started in 2009, and I learned something from each of them. I feel so much gratitude for their contributions and skills. They were and are, in a word, awesome.
  • We’ve sure had interesting people walk through our doors. I’m thinking of Garrett Gee, who designed the Fit logo before he got busy building and selling a company for 54 million dollars. Or there was that time that our first sales guy, Brooks Forester, starred on The Bachelorette. Lots of good times with great people — and that’s what I remember most.
  • As Fit grew, we had a few mergers and acquisitions that brought new energy and ideas to our team. I’m appreciative to Chris Kilburn and his team at TOFU Marketing for helping Fit to up its game when we acquired them in 2013. And of course, no merger had a bigger impact on me than when Big Start and Fit Marketing merged in 2012, and I got to have Dave as a partner through that process. He’s one of the finest people I’ve ever met, and one my all-time favorites to work with. I can’t wait to see what he builds at PageLaunch and hope we’ll have a chance to work together again.
  • As we grew, our offices sure changed. We started in my little apartment in Provo in 2009, and then felt like we hit the big time a year later when Fit had one other employee and we were working out of a condo in Orem. From there, we opened offices in downtown Salt Lake City, Provo and American Fork before consolidating all of them into our favorite space of all in downtown Lehi. At each step, gratefully, the spaces got a bit nicer. That being said, I’ll always remember those early days with really cheap furniture fondly.
  • I’m proud that Inbound Marketing SLC became what it did and that Stryde will continue to host that event going forward. I never would’ve guessed, when it started, that we’d be able to get hundreds of Utah’s top marketers together every couple of months to share what we’re learning. Thank you to everyone who has made that event worthwhile.
  • It’s gratifying to think that the little company I started as a clueless 25 year old grew to make a small dent in the marketing community in Utah. It blows me away when I look back and realize that since then people have paid Fit Marketing millions of dollars to help with their marketing. Even more importantly, Fit helped people turn those millions of dollars invested in marketing into many more.
  • There’s no way that Fit would have achieved what it did without all the awesome people that have contributed to it. And again, none more awesome than my partner and friend, Dave.

At its best, Fit has been a labor of love — love for our clients, the work that we’re doing, and for each other. I’m grateful and excited to see the Fit team combine with the bright people at Stryde to nourish that spirit more and write the next chapter in this story. I get the feeling that with these two teams working together, the best is yet to come.

Greg’s Take

Well, I get to go last, so most of the story has already been told…

When compared to Fit Marketing, Stryde is still a toddler. We’re only two years old. When we started Stryde, we had several growth strategies in mind, one of which was through mergers and acquisitions. I don’t think we could have been any luckier that our first was with some of my great friends and mentors. It means a whole lot to me that Dave trusts us enough to take the torch and hopefully pour some gasoline on it 🙂

During the last couple of years, Stryde has also made some pivots in our approach to marketing and our service offering. We initially started out as a full service digital marketing agency. About a year ago, we decided to narrow our focus to content marketing and cut out all the other distractions that were taking our time and attention away from what we do best. Yes, we still do SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing, etc., but we do it differently than we did before. Everything we do and every decision we make revolves around our content strategy for each client. I’m happy to report that it is working extremely well!

By merging the Fit team into the Stryde team, we also opened up some new capabilities that we didn’t have before, including video creation. We are now producing some of the best live and animated video that I’ve seen in a long time. Take that and package it with our content and distribution and promotion strategies and you’ve got something pretty awesome!

I too am excited to see where our company goes during the next 12-24 months. We’re a lot stronger than we were 30 days ago, and I expect the strength of our organization to continue to grow as the team gets more familiar with one another and we start firing on all cylinders.

Here’s to 2015 and massive growth for our clients and Stryde.

11 Tips for Maximizing Ecommerce Traffic during Black Friday & Cyber Monday

By | Inbound Marketing | No Comments

Much has been made about the decline of American manufacturing. Notably, China overtook the United States as the top manufacturing country in the world in 2010.

And now, they’re even beating us when it comes to manufacturing holidays.

Screenshot 2014-11-21 15.44.28Yesterday (November 11) was a holiday known as “Singles Day,” and it was created by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group. It fittingly falls on November 11, or 11/11, because all the 1’s represent singles. It is an anti-Valentine’s Day in which people are encouraged to buy gifts for the singles in their lives.

And “buy gifts” is exactly what they did.

Singles Day easily surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the world’s most lucrative online shopping day. By 11pm local time in Hangzhou, China (where Alibaba is headquartered), the company had surpassed $9 billion in sales. By comparison, U.S. consumers spent $2.9 billion globally online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to ComScore.

So we’ve got some catching up to do. And you can do your part to inch us closer to that $9 billion mark by making sure your website is set up to take advantage of the boosts in traffic you should see between Nov. 27-30.

So in honor of 11/11, here are 11 tips for maximizing ecommerce traffic during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

1. Understand user experience

It can be easy to get caught up in the frenzy of driving traffic around the holidays, but don’t let that get in the way of providing your visitors with a first-class experience when they get to your site. To do this, it helps to understand how website visitors are using your site, which you can do with tools like usertesting.com. You can get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they browse your website.

2. Customize product photos and pages with holiday visuals

I was in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago, and nearly every billboard or bus stop bench I saw had an ad for a new television show that began airing earlier in the season. On more than one occasion, the promotions were for shows that had already been cancelled. They served as nothing but depressing reminders of projects that failed miserably.

Nothing says, “I’m lazy” more than having something that clearly shows you’re not paying attention. By that same logic, you can prove you’re not lazy by making sure that your product photos and pages are customized with holiday themes as the season quickly approaches. That way, people know that the content on your site is relevant and updated. It’s also a good way to play on people’s emotional connection to holiday imagery. Just don’t forget to remove the themes at the end of the season.

3. Think mobile

Last year, mobile shopping on Black Friday increased by 118 percent from the prior year, and 24 percent of all online shopping was done on a mobile device. That trend will only increase as mobile continues to establish itself as an easy way to shop online. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices, and take advantage of this trend by creating mobile ad campaigns.

4. Price sorting

In my family, we have price limits on how much each of us can spend on each other. I also have a friend who prepares his holiday budget on January 1 of every year, and then each month he stashes away 1/11th of that budget so that it’s there for him to spend come December.

I bring all this up to say that many people have budgets that they are trying to stick to for their holiday shopping. You can delight these website visitors by giving them the option to sort by price so they can instantly see what products fall within their budget.

5. Increase ad bids

If only you were the only one that knew that ecommerce traffic surged on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But, alas, this is common knowledge, and so CPMs will skyrocket. According to AdRoll, the average CPM for industry goes up 40-200 percent. As such, AdRoll recommends that you plan to increase your bids by up to 60 percent.

6. Offer coupons in shipping confirmation emails

Transactional emails – those messages that are triggered by a user’s behavior on your site, such as making a purchase – are typically the most read emails that a company sends. When someone makes a purchase on your site, they will be expecting a confirmation email letting them know that the purchase was made and that the shipment has taken place. While you’ve got their attention, why not remind them about some of the other killer deals you’ve got on your site?

7. After Black Friday, start getting people excited for Cyber Monday

The Saturday and Sunday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday are crucial. Your audience will quickly shift their attention from the hot deals of one manufactured holiday to another one. To maintain their interest and attention, you can deploy teaser ad campaigns or offer early bird discounts in anticipation of Monday’s events.

8. Make sure site is ready to handle uptick in traffic

Be careful what you wish for – if you want a lot of traffic, you better be prepared for it. You can lose visitors for life if they are greeted with an error message after clicking on one of your ads or social media posts. Take a good hard look at your back end to make sure it can handle what will hopefully be a surge in traffic.

9. Use holiday countdowns to encourage daily visitors and repeat customers

Doing something like “12 Days of Christmas Savings” or “30 Days of Holiday Sales” will get people to keep coming back to your site even after the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can either start your holiday countdown during this weekend, or you can begin promoting a future countdown to get people to come back to your site after they’ve taken advantage of the killer Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals you’ve offered them.

10. Delivery calculator

If someone is making a purchase on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, they should be fairly confident that whatever they ordered will arrive before December 25. But a lot of people have company parties or other Christmas gatherings earlier in the season, and if you provide them with a delivery calculator, they will know whether or not their shipment will arrive in time for the special event.

11. Give people what they want: Killer deals!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ubiquitous enough that people have extremely high expectations for the bargains that will be offered. Your website visitors are expecting free shipping, two-for-ones, and discounts of up to 50 percent. They want to know that the discounts they are getting are the best deals they will see all year.

The only way for you to succeed is by offering these types of deals. It may mean slimmer profit margins, but if your site is easy to use and you provide users with a phenomenal customer experience, you will win repeat business that will more than make up for it. Remember that you are always trying to delight your customers, and there’s no better way to do this on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than by offering them can’t-miss deals. Shopping during this time can be stressful, so try to do your part to give them something to smile about amongst all of the madness.

15 Tips To Tweet: Insights From Digital Marketing Thought Leaders

By | Digital Marketing | One Comment

TIPS TOThe world of digital marketing is wonderfully diverse and ever-changing. Business leaders have three basic approaches to this varied industry. One is to research, learn, and stay current on changing landscapes. The second would be to dive into digital marketing with a rough plan, get frustrated after the first failure and call it quits. And the final approach isn’t really an approach at all. It’s just to ignore the industry hoping that it is just a passing fad.

Hopefully you do not subscribe to that last group, or we would have to burst your bubble! Digital marketing is not going anywhere, businesses must either adapt or be left behind. Now, that leaves the two other approaches. Clearly, the first option is the best. But, you may be thinking that it’s too much time, too many resources, and too complicated to undertake.

Not so fast! While the world of digital marketing is constantly evolving, many core tips apply regardless of the place in time. We reached out to some of the brightest minds in the digital marketing industry, covering everything from SEO to social media, with one simple question:

What is your favorite (less than 140 characters!) digital marketing advice?”

Not surprisingly, these industry thought leaders did not disappoint. You’ll find their favorite tips listed below. If any, or all, strike a chord with you, Tweet it and share the knowledge.

On Digital Marketing

@ChadPollitt “Consistency is the key to successful digital marketing. Otherwise, the audience you build will not have their expectations met.” Tweet Me!

@nelsonjames “Don’t look for shortcuts. Almost all shortcuts lead to poor marketing tactics that will hurt your brand in the end.” Tweet Me!

@dustinheap “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket regardless of what that basket might be.” Tweet Me!

@lyena “Sometimes very simple observations lead to meaningful insights.” Tweet Me!

On Content

@shuey03 “Before you begin any content initiative, you MUST know the needs and pain points of your target audience and be ready to address them.” Tweet Me!

@amabaie “Visuals are more effective than just text. But the most effective visuals include text.” Tweet Me!

@Casieg “Look at your data when creating content.” Tweet Me!

@lyena “Become obsessed with pictures this year. Snap shots of your business, of people working there.” Tweet Me!

On Social Media

@ChadPollitt “If content is king then distribution is queen and she wears the pants.” Tweet Me!

@Matt_Siltala “Instagram is hot right now, and one of the most powerful tools for bringing the online and offline marketing worlds together.” Tweet Me!

@PapaRelevance “Organic reach on major social platforms will be reduced to rubble. Tune in to the paid content promotion ecosystem.” Tweet Me!

@PapaRelevance “I believe Twitter, Pinterest and the like will follow Facebook. You’ll need to pay for substantial exposure to your own audience.” Tweet Me!

On SEO and Optimization

@RavenJon “UX is quickly becoming the next big thing in marketing. The tipping point for #SEO was when they realized UX creates signals.” Tweet Me!

@lyena “Know your audience and understand what they want to accomplish on your website. Give them what they are looking for.” Tweet Me!

@DavidWallace “Just because Google says it doesn’t make it gospel. Marketing is war & Google is not your friend. Take what they say with a grain of salt.” Tweet Me!

Never miss a beat by following these Tweeps on Twitter. That way, you’ll be one step closer to staying on top of all Digital Marketing news, trends, and insights.

R.I.P. Google Reader – Five Recommended Replacements For Consuming RSS Feeds

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

google reader deathToday, July 1st, marks the death day for Google Reader, the highly popular RSS aggregator that several million individuals used as their go-to news source. Google’s announcement to shut down this service has been great for several other RSS aggregators and even prompted large companies like LinkedIn to purchase competing services like Pulse ($90 million acquisition price tag).

In digital marketing, we use RSS aggregators to not only stay up to date on our industry news, but we use them to stay up to date on each of our clients industries so we can better understand how to market their businesses as well as put together cutting edge content marketing strategies. For those who are feeling the pain of Google Reader’s death, here are five fantastic replacements that will have you back up and running in a matter of minutes!





Digg Reader

As you are setting up your new reader, you should also take this opportunity to check out this fantastic write up on Fast Company on how to reboot your news reading habits, so you can get the most out of the time you spend consuming news from your feed.

If you have other RSS aggregators that you’d recommend, please add them in the comments section below.

Image credit: Ektron.com


Five Initiatives of a CMO & How Digital Marketing Can Help With Each

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

cmo initativesChief Marketing Officers often times wear a lot of hats and have a long list of initiatives that they are responsible for, however, there are a small few that truly matter when it comes to marketing the business and ensuring a bright future for the organization and their employees. In today’s post, I want to talk about the five most important initiatives of a CMO and how digital marketing plays a crucial role helping them accomplish their initiatives.

Defining & Identifying The Most Strategically Important Clients

The first, and by far the most important goal of a CMO is to define and identify the most important “growth potential” clients. During the process, you should determine who they are, what their needs and pain points are, and how they prefer to consume information and be introduced to new ideas or concepts. The reason this is most important is because the success of all other initiatives hinge on this one initative. If you simply skip over this or get it completely wrong, chances are you’re going to be in some trouble down the road.

Performing this type of research is very time intensive, so I won’t go into it in this post, but here’s a nice write up by Jon Henshaw over at Raven Tools on defining your target audience and creating buyer personas.

Acquiring The Most Strategically Important Clients

After you’ve taken the time to clearly define your target audience and the customers which will not only bring you the most revenue, but will be the most profitable, acquiring them is fairly easy with several digital marketing strategies. Unlike older, outdated strategies, with digital, specifically SEO, PPC, and Social Media, you can put your message right in front of your most important clients and guess what? It converts at a higher rate and it’s cheaper acquire them too. Shhhhh… don’t tell your competitors 🙂

Retaining The Most Strategically Important Clients

Many will argue that client retention lies solely on the shoulders of the Chief Services Offer and their team of representatives, however, I disagree somewhat. Yes, client retention is heavily impacted by the front line employees and their leaders, however, with the help of the marketing team and focused content marketing initiatives, you can greatly increase the length of stay of each of your clients. Here’s one example of how to do this…

John (made up name) purchased a new marketing automation system from you. The system is fairly complex and has a steep learning curve. By providing a robust FAQ section along with video tutorials and written guides (all produced by the marketing team), you’ve increased the chances of John having a fantastic experience and staying on as a paying customer. If you didn’t provide such resources, John might have started looking for an easier solution online and stopped paying for your product after one month. This is just one of many ways to use content to improve the customer experience.

Growing The Amount of Revenue Coming From The Most Important Clients

Putting great emphasis on client retention as well as growing client accounts are two of the easiest ways for your organization to grow revenue and build a thriving business. There are two specific ways you can work to grow the amount of revenue your clients are spending with you. The first way to grow revenue from current clients is through remarketing. Smart marketers are not only segmenting leads they receive, but they are segmenting their customers based on what they purchased. If I purchased a golf shirt from the Nike Outlet, they could then send me promotions around golf pants, shoes, and other golf products that I might be in need of. These very targeted remarketing efforts always convert at a higher rate as opposed to a blanket promotion such as, we know you purchased something from us, we are having a sale on basketball shoes this week. As you can see, definitely not as effective.

The second way to grow revenue is through content marketing. Putting together ebooks, white papers, webinars or other targeted collateral or training that can be exclusively distributed to your clients for free is a great way to build awareness for your additional products or services. Again, if you segmented your list, you can send them collateral specifically geared towards something else they might need. This, coupled with a follow up call from an account representative to discuss opportunities has proven to be a very powerful way to grow the amount of revenue coming from each of your important clients.

Increasing The Perceived Value of The Products or Services Offered

The last initiative, which I feel is closely tied to the second and fourth initiatives, is to increase the perceived value of the products or services offered to your clients. This not only helps grow your client base, but helps retain your clients for a longer period of time.

To do this, you need to truly understand what your unique selling proposition (what makes you better than everyone else in the space) is and build internal and external campaigns to solidify it in the minds of everyone who interacts with your brand. If your front line employees don’t know what makes you different and consistently sell it to your clients, the perceived value remains the same or decreases over time. Content marketing is a great way to increase the perceived value internally and externally. Again, guides, ebooks, infographics and other digital assets can help you in your efforts.

As you can clearly see, a CMO definitely has their work cut out for them, however, by leveraging new technologies and marketing strategies, getting there is a whole lot easier than it used to be. Do you have any other tips on how to handle these five initiatives? If so, please share in the comments section below.

Image source: PRWeb

Ten Books Every Digital Marketer MUST Read

By | Digital Marketing | No Comments

reading a bookIn the digital marketing space, you are required to read a lot. If you don’t, you most likely don’t know your stuff and aren’t abreast current strategies and industry changes. Personally, I mostly read blog posts, however, I’ve also read several books over the last year which have helped me to gain a better understanding of the digital marketing landscape and have helped me to become a better marketer all around. In today’s post, I’d like to talk about ten books that I believe every digital marketer needs to read to help become a better asset to their organization and team.

(Note: I know there are going to be haters… there always are, who say that digital marketing changes too fast to glean anything from paperback books. To that I say, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that the foundational principles never change and you are wrong. So take your negativity and hating elsewhere.)

Marketing In The Age of Google – Vanessa Fox

Marketing in the age of Google focuses on helping you understand how marketing has changed over the last decade and what your business can do to gain more visibility in the search engines and help you connect with those seeking out your products and services.

UnMarketing – Scott Stratton

UnMarketing’s tag line is stop marketing, start UnMarketing which ultimately leads into discussions on listening to potential customers needs and engaging with them so that when they are ready to purchase what you have to offer, their logical choice is you.

Search Engine Optimization Secrets – Danny Dover

In short, Search Engine Optimization Secrets is pretty much the only book that SEO’s will ever need to understand how the search engines work and how to properly optimize a website. I have referenced this book hundreds of times over the last few years and is worth its weight in gold.

Web Analytics 2.0 – Avinash Kaushik

You can’t be a marketer without understanding website visitor and customer behavior, which is where Web Analytics 2.0 comes into play. If you claim to be a digital marketer and don’t know analytics, you need to stop claiming to be a digital marketer 🙂 In this book, Avinash runs through the basics of analytics as well as goes deep into advanced principles, metrics, and data to help you become an analytics whiz!

Content Strategy For The Web – Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach

BEST BOOK I’VE READ THIS YEAR!!! – Content strategy for the web was written for the marketer who wants to leverage content to build and grow their business. This book simply lays out what content strategy is, how to build a solid strategy, how to make smarter decisions about your content, and how to execute a strategy that drives real business value.

Ultimate Guide To Link Building – Garrett French & Eric Ward

SECOND BEST BOOK I’VE READ THIS YEAR!!! – If you’re an SEO, you’ve definitely been affected by the latest Google Algorithm updates and need to update your linking strategies. Well, Garret and Eric have just done it for you and all you have to do is read their book. This book shows you how to deploy a link building campaign that will help you attract quality links, drive more traffic, and dramatically boost your search rank.

Accelerate! – Arnie Kuenn

Accellerate is a fantastic book that provides its readers with a clear understanding of what it takes to develop and execute a powerful content marketing strategy, no matter how big or small your organization is. Arnie is a stud and I absolutely loved this book!

Optimize – Lee Odden

Optimize was written to provide all marketers a practical approach to integrating search, social, and content to boost your relevance and visibility online so that your potential customers can find you and engage with you. This book offers insight into customer centric strategies that in my opinion, will stand the test of time.

The Now Revolution – Jay Baer & Amber Naslund

The Now Revolution was a fantastic book to help marketers understand that real-time communication and social media have changed the way we do business. If you want to learn how to adapt your organization to meet the expectations of today’s customer, then this book is for you!

Real-Time Marketing & PR – David Meerman Scott

This is the first book of David Meerman Scott’s that I have read and definitely won’t be the last. Real-time marketing and PR helps you understand how to launch effective real-time communications in an “always on” world and generate a new stream of customers through this method of communication.

So there you have it. It’s probably time you get reading, don’t you think? What are some of your favorite books on digital marketing? If I’ve missed any that you really enjoy, please drop them in the comments section below.