Perspective, tips, and insight

Articles to help you improve your digital marketing

How viral videos can help reinforce your brand

Videos don't have to feature cute hugging cats or giggling babies in order to go viral. If you know your niche and your brand, you can make a clever video that will be popular with your audience.
For inspiration view these examples of recent, popular YouTube videos made by staff at universities for their niche audiences:

New alumni send-off
As a tribute to 2011's graduating class, Oberlin's President Marvin Krislov and other administrators playfully recreate Rebecca Black's video for her earworm "Friday."

Student recruitment tool
What's not to like about this feel good video? Purdue University's video about the "Compliment Guys" who shout out nice things to students passing by took off when it was posted to YouTube.

Online pep rally, part one
This Notre Dame anthem, created for a student-athlete awards banquet, was so well-received by alumni, students, and other members of the Fighting Irish family that its view count is over 300,000 and growing.

Online pep rally, part two
To bolster excitement for the basketball team, Indiana University fans Brice Fox and Daniel Weber express their school spirit with song and exciting archival game footage.

Nostalgic virtual tour
Combining stop-motion and colorful narration, the University of Chicago's Dean of the College John Boyer helps alumni revisit campus in this short, atmospheric video.

Improving the user experience with content strategy

It's getting close to your launch deadline. Lorem ipsum placeholder text that filled out the wireframes and comps are the only content in your CMS. You don't have a copywriter, but you have a tentative plan to convert some old brochures' text to create web content.

We've all been there. Your new website is up and running, and now you're thinking about the content.

When working with tight turnarounds and small budgets, content can be treated as a last thought, especially if your design and development team doesn't have content strategy expertise. The web has different content needs than print projects. The words you use to tell your company's story online—and how they're presented—need regular review and strategic improvements. Content is often the hardest part of any website project.

In her book Content Strategy for the Web, expert Kristina Halvorson points out that "content is not a feature." When content revision and creation is treated as an afterthought in the web design puzzle, its execution can make or break your website's success. If your website's content isn't well thought-out, the users can always tell. Most people visit websites to get information. If your website makes it difficult for users to get what they need, they'll end up frustrated, or they may go elsewhere.

Here are two ways you can start to make content strategy a part of your website's creation, redesign process, or ongoing maintenance to ensure a better user experience and bigger ROI on your investment having an online presence:

Never stop auditing.
There is no such thing as postlaunch when it comes to content. Keep an inventory of what you post and analyze where there are gaps. Review regularly and revise as appropriate. Use management tools (an Excel spreadsheet is a good place to start) to keep track of your content. Don't forget to measure the success of your content in terms of its findability and impact on your business. Do people come to your website and leave right away? Create personas to understand your users' needs, motivations, concerns, and goals. Make sure your content addresses how your company's products and services will solve your users' problems.

Curation is key.
Unify your content management process and focus on the user experience. Figure out what you want to do and then pick your tool to help you do it. Define the purpose and value of the content you choose to share on your website. Make sure your content reflects the characteristics of your company's brand. Develop an editorial calendar and establish processes. Create standards, including a style guide with content specifications and workflow with archiving and updating plans.

Best healthcare websites

Check out a newer version of this post! For more recent examples, head over to our latest healthcare website best practices.

Not every hospital is the same, however, all hospitals and health care providers should have a professional online presence. First and foremost, an effective medical website should be easy to use and full of information. The organization and presentation of this information must be strategic and intuitive so patients and other visitors can find what they need quickly. In today's health care market, a high quality website is expected by the general public.

Effective call to action designs

A call to action, also called a CTA, is an area on a webpage that prompts you to do something. Some times a call to action entices you to click a button or picture. In other cases it may make you want to fill out a form or contact a company representative for more information.

Learning to tweet: Advice for Twitter newbies

Last week at a small conference in Chicago, I was part of a panel discussion about tools and techniques for effectively using social media. The discussion covered tangible basics, including recommended tools for efficiency like TweetDeck and HootSuite, but the panel also delved into actual how-to advice for those in attendance who were just starting to build their brands on Twitter. This aspect, it seemed, was the biggest challenge for the new users.

Your website staff page: Why showing faces is important and beneficial

Check out an updated version of this post! Find current examples and even more great information: Using team photos to improve your conversion rate

Your website staff page: Why showing faces is important and beneficial.

Are there REAL people working at your company?

When your potential clients stumble upon your business's website, one of the first things they do is look for examples of your work. But what happens when they look at your team page and only see names of your employees? Some "About Us" pages don't even have their employees listed, some have their names and some have their pictures. Along with their just names or pictures comes bios and all that jazz, but who wins in the fight between names and pictures? When it comes down to it, your clients feel more comfortable knowing that they are working with a REAL person. Having images along with names on your "About Us" page helps clients realize this, which in increases your conversion rate. The article by unbounce titled "3 Ways to Increase Your Conversion Rate with Images [Case Studies]" put it this way:
"How can you create a better connection with customers if they won’t meet you in person the majority of the time? The answer is to use images wisely, both on the sales and service side of your pages. ... It’s hard to connect with a small business team with a huge list of names. Get personal with customers and allow them to connect with you more easily by implementing images."
This is completely true. I have some examples listed below and to come up with them was a little difficult.

Tips for Running a Facebook Contest

With over 500 million users, Facebook offers invaluable opportunities for companies to engage with their potential and loyal customers through pages. Though more than 70% of small businesses use Facebook (a 20% increase over last year), most still struggle to find different ways to take advantage of their social media presence beyond reinforcing branding and providing customer service.

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