ICYMI: Websites DMI Studios Launched November 2016

From Responsive redesigns to brand new sites, we launched four websites for companies all over Northeastern Wisconsin in November. Check out what we were up to last month!


New website designs by DMI Studios:

Responsive (mobile friendly) redesigns by DMI Studios:





Is your website itching for a revamp? Give us a call; we'd love to give you a new look.

Four Things We Can't Get Enough Of

Thanksgiving: the one time of year it's socially acceptable to stuff ourselves into gluttony. We just can't get enough pumpkin pie, turkey, dressing, and anything else that fits onto our plates. We're already in Thanksgiving mode, and that led us to thinking, "what else can't we get enough of?" There are some things, no matter the time of year, that will always love shamelessly.


Story telling

Compelling content, or story telling, in both web copy and social media, is one of the most important factors in marketing. Reading an interesting or moving story is far more intriguing than reading yet another blanket sales pitch. It shows WHY someone should buy your product or use your service. This is the time to pull at heartstrings, throw out a surprising stat, share new or relatively unknown information. The marketing world is moving away from B2B and B2C, and into P2P (Person to Person). Talk to your customers, as a person, like they're actually a person. Not like a marketer talking to a sales prospect.

To name just a few of our clients nailing this on Facebook:


CP Centers shares pictures and stories of their client activities and group outings, which shows families of clients and potential new clients the work the organization does, without outright sharing a list of services. They also recently shared a video for Giving Tuesday, showing what the impact of a donation is for the Center and its clients. CP knows they need to show their "why" for people to be willing to donate.


Happily Ever After shares pictures and stories of the Santuary's animals, both pre and post adoption. They share each dog or cat's picture and background story, making it much easier for them to be adopted. Because who doesn't love cat and dog pictures flooding their newsfeed? They also frequently share adoption successes when the animals find their forever homes. This has led to families sharing their own stories of how happy they are with their new pet.


Renewable Energies understands that outdoor wood furnaces aren't exactly the sexiest product to tout on social media. But they do understand that their customers are the backbone of their business. They share pictures and stories of their customers with their new furnace, and what kind of impact their purchase will have on their daily life, along with customer testimonials. These are great ways, beyond a list of benefit statements, to show why someone should buy their product.


We also have a few national brands favorite story tellers.


Taco Bell is a company that understands something extra has to be brought to the table (pun intended) if they want to make fast food exciting. Through humor and wit, contests, and pop culture references, they keep their accounts engaging enough for their customers to stay excited about their products.


By encouraging customers to share pictures of their families in their pajamas, Pajamagram tells their story through their customers' stories. Their clothing is also memorable because of the messaging: their products should be part of your family's traditions. This is their why;  they are so much more than pajamas, they are memories.

Behind the scenes looks

Like we mentioned earlier, P2P interaction is at the core of marketing campaigns. We love when we see brands share inside looks into their company. It shows that the company is full of interesting people and is more than just data on a screen, or sales getting shouted from the rooftops. Social media should be just that - social. When users see this more interesting side of the company, and the people behind it, it makes your brand stand out. They won't remember a boring page, but they will remember a company that looks fun. And they are more likely to engage with you if you're entertaining.


Which of our clients and what national brands excel at this on social media?

Lamers Bus Lines (client) on Facebook: 

Lamers does a great job of sharing employee spotlights, which gives their followers insight into not only their bus drivers, but also their office staff. Their coach bus drivers often share on the road pictures, giving customers an idea of the different places they can travel through their company. During the Pokemon Go craze they even shared pictures of the Pokemon hanging around their corporate office. People and experiences are far more interesting than busses, and Lamers gets that.

Hootsuite (national) on Snapchat & Instagram:

Hootsuite's Snapchat is not run by just one person. They often have takeovers from various employees and teams to give their followers different perspectives of their company. Their Instagram shows the employees engaging in team building activities, running their Twitter chats, and general office fun, which not only gives insight into the people at the company, but also shows off their unique culture.

Image-centric design

If a picture says a thousand words, what does your website say? Let's face it, imagery is dominating the web right now. If you aren't taking advantage of that, you're already behind the times. Whether it's part of a web design or social media, we love attention-grabbing visuals. Catch your user's attention with an impressive image, and then keep their attention with compelling content. Websites that are image-heavy, especially when those images are sharp, look really polished and contemporary. We also love when sites utilize their space with blocks of images, and use content to fill the gaps.

Recent websites we've created using these concepts:







Long form websites

Long form websites that require a lot of scrolling are no longer considered a "no no" in web design. Since most browsing occurs on mobile devices, scrolling is not only accepted, but expected. This design also makes navigation easier since it eliminates the extra clicks that are necessary to reveal content. (http://bit.ly/2fhujS5)

In fact, we love this design so much, we centered our Runwaysite program around it. Runwaysite websites are one page, long-formatted sites catering to small businesses. Some examples include:









So there you have it: four things we just can't get enough of in marketing. We'd love to hear: what can't you get enough of in your industry?


If you need help moving forward with content or graphics in your social media strategy, or if your website needs a fresh design, we would love to talk.

Five Scariest Things In Web Design

It's October, and the spooky characters and creepy crawlies are coming out of the woodwork. It's the one time of year where it's fun to get scared (or maybe not, we don't judge), and to scare others. But the scariest things we've seen, and we mean downright horrifying, are not clowns (don't get us started), or zombies, or ghosts. No, the heart-clutching, stop-in-your-tracks moments come from bad web designs. We're here to share the scariest elements we've seen in websites. It's for your own good, really.



  • Flash
  • Animated GIFs
  • Clutter
  • Blank or Empty Space
  • Unreadable

Flash

This first one is a bit tricky. The inclusion of Flash itself is not scary, but how it reacts on certain devices can be. Depending on your device, the use of Flash could leave a broken image or blank area on a website. Flash is also strictly forbidden on iOS. However, for sites like YouTube that still utilize Flash, there will be a "no Flash installed on device" alternative. Our advice? Use HTML5 Video/Audio, which uses the device's built-in media players, and doesn't require any additional installations. For a quick overview on how to set up an HTML5 video, check out http://www.w3schools.com/html/html5_video.asp.


Animated GIFs

We'll just come right out and say it. If your website is still touting homemade animated GIFs, they have got to go. They are distracting, they make your site look dated, and like it was created by an amateur. You don't want to look like you're stuck in the 90s, or worse, that you are not a professional organization. First impressions are everything. If your visitors take one look at your website and come to the conclusion that they can't take you seriously, it's not a good sign for your business. If you must use GIFs, make sure they are well-made, from resources like GIPHY.com, and keep your website quality a step above your Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Clutter

Ok, we know you've got a lot of information you want to include in your website. We all want to share everything our business is up to or has to offer. But when everything is thrown together haphazardly, or squeezed onto a home page, there is too much going on for your user's eyes and brains to focus. Where to look? What to read? It becomes overwhelming, and, rather than try to sift through every detail, your visitors are going to leave your site. Quickly. Decide what must stay, what can be transferred to a separate page, and what should be removed entirely. 

http://bit.ly/1N6Xajq

See what we mean? There is just way too much going on here.

Blank Space

No, not that kind. We know we just told you to de-clutter your website and/or home page, but make sure your site doesn't go too far in the other direction. If your website is just a few sentences of content and a lone image, with the rest of the page empty, it is not providing enough information. Your customers or leads are coming to your site for a reason. Chances are, with a page lacking substantial content, users are not getting what they came for. Without a second glance, they'll look for someone who can provide the information they're looking for. Make sure all relevant information, including your services or products, what sets you apart from your competition, and contact information is listed.

http://bit.ly/1N6Xajq

Look at all that open space! There are plenty of content opportunities that have been missed here.

Unreadable

There really is too much of a good thing. We all know the best way to capture someone's attention is through engaging or eye-catching visuals: something that pops on your page. But if your website is engulfed in popping visuals, it's hard to know what is the pertinent content to focus on. With super bright or clashing colors, your eyes will need a break quickly. Add to that difficult-to-read fonts or bright fonts against a bright background, and it's sensory overload. If your visitor has to squint or highlight all the text to read the page's content, they will likely abandon your website for another that is easier to digest. Your background and font colors should be complementary, and leave out "scripty" fonts. And Comic Sans. If you're not sure what to use, leave the decisions up to the pros.

http://bit.ly/1N6Xajq

Ouch. Excuse us while we give our eyes a rest in a dark room.


If you think you can handle one more terror, check out http://www.angelfire.com/super/badwebs/, which encapsulates just about everything we've discussed today all in one fell swoop.



We hope we didn't give you too much of a scare. But if we did, we are happy to calm you back down. If your website contains any of the above fear factors, contact us for a consultation full of treats - no tricks up our sleeves.

Is Your E-Commerce Ready for the Holidays?


The holidays are right around the corner. How does your e-commerce site rank against your competition? Whether your holiday sales strategy is set in place, or you are still working through some adjustments, we have five components to include to ensure your season is a success.


Responsive Design

Is your website Responsive, or mobile friendly? If not, now is definitely the time to make the conversion. This year, and going forward, the majority of online sales will come from mobile devices. If your website requires pinching and zooming, your customers will abandon your site for a competitor who offers a better user experience on phones. Not to mention, responsive websites receive preference in search engine rankings. Don't miss out on valuable sales because your online shopping experience is not convenient across devices, or because Google penalizes your site for not being mobile-friendly.


Load Time


Let's face it. As a human population, our attention span has diminished to mere seconds. If your website takes too long to load, visitors aren't going to stay around to wait for it. What are some ways to speed up your load time?

  • Make sure your images are the correct size. If they are too large, they will drag down the website's speed. 
  • Implement Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). "AMP makes web pages fast, and fast pages help with purchase conversions." Although AMP is not yet a requirement for websites, Google is starting to place a lot of focus on this feature. 

Organic Search Rankings


Sure, your customers (or potential customers) can easily find you by searching your company or brand's name. But can they find you by searching for your products? If the answer is no, there are some steps you can take to improve your search presence, to ensure you are also found through searches of non-branded terms.

  • Update your website content. Peruse your site, and take some time to pepper in additional keywords throughout your site (but be sure not to keyword stuff!). This is also a good time to beef up your content, especially on your homepage. Make sure everything is current and relevant, and provides the end-user the information they are looking for. 
  • Revisit your meta tags. Have you taken a look at your website's meta tags in a while? Now is an opportunity to update existing metas, and to add new ones. Make sure your meta descriptions have strong keywords, and your keywords are all still relevant. Don't forget about location-based modifiers within your keywords if you have a local, brick and mortar shop. 
    • Do your inside pages have their own meta tags added? If the answer is no, this could be affecting your search rankings. When your website only has meta tags in place for the home page, all other pages pull from the same meta title and description. Google sees this as duplicate content, which can, and eventually will, lead to penalties. 

PPC Strategy

As an e-commerce company, one of your biggest focuses is advertising your products, especially during the holiday shopping season. Do you advertise through Pay Per Click (PPC) methods? Whether you have a large digital advertising budget, or a smaller one, PPC is something to consider to boost online sales and to reach new customers. If you're already advertising with PPC, what does your strategy look like?

  • Do you have your budget set in place? If not, now is the time to develop your budget and have it approved. 
  • Are you creating new ads or are they already set in stone? You will want to create ads that are holiday and sales focused to attract the most shoppers. Don't forget to set up A/B testing! 
    • Google has recently launched Expanded Text Ads through Adwords. You now have the opportunity to write ads with two headline fields (up to 30 characters), and an expanded description field (up to 80 characters). This gives you much more room to play with ad content. 
    • Do your ads and their corresponding pages' content mesh well? If not, now is the time to either update page content to make sure the ads fit, or re-write your ads. 


Social Media Strategy

By now, we all know how crucial social media is for businesses of all sizes. If you're selling products online, you should absolutely be taking advantage of the accessibility of social media. The holiday season is a great time to not only promote your products through social media, but to also keep your customers engaged, and informed.

  • Share your promotions and sales through all of your social accounts. People will be looking specifically for deals throughout the remaining months of the year. 
    • Offer contests and giveaways for new or best-selling products to keep your customers excited. Ask them to Retweet, share, or tag a friend to expand your exposure. 
  • Highlight new or featured products with great visual content - videos are even better than still images. Let your customers know what's great about new products, and share with prospects why your brand stands out from your competition. 
  • Are you taking advantage of social advertising? Make sure to set aside some of your advertising budget for social media. 
    • Determine whether you will be promoting your page, CTA, or website through page ads, or if you will be promoting your content through sponsored posts. Who is your target audience and/or demographic? This is important to make sure you are reaching the right people for your brand. 




If you need help getting your e-commerce strategy top notch for the busiest sales season of the year, we would love to be your guide. Contact us to set up a time to talk.


What Impact Does Summer Tourism Have on Your Business?

If you are taking a vacation this year, especially if you are bringing children, chances are it will be during July or August. Are we right? These months are some of the most popular for getaways, and because of this, the tourism industry is booming in the summer. We're talking $3.8 billion in Wisconsin visitor sales 2015's 3rd Quarter. As a result, organizations impacted need to make sure their marketing is strong and focused to bring in the most business possible.



At DMI, one of our specialties is working with counties and their tourism groups. When we are approached by a county, city, or tourism group, the goal is not just to create them a website, it's to make sure their efforts are met with success. Whether it's through their website, social media platforms, or online search presence, we assist our clients with delivering their message to ensure they can share their area's gems to keep visitors returning, and ultimately, keep local businesses profitable.

Our tourism websites contain a client-controlled, customizable events and calendar tool that allows the client to keep a detailed, running list of upcoming events. This makes it easy for the county or tourism group to share events as they are planned, and easy for visitors to quickly see what they can attend during their stay. We also provide social media consulting on how to best reach their target audience and grow their following, and additional marketing services in Search Engine Optimization strategies to ensure their website appears well in search results.

For counties and tourism groups to be truly successful, they must be able to support the organizations within them. By sharing lodging and dining locations on their website, and promoting the businesses on social media, counties and tourism groups can easily draw visitors to their area. Partnering with several area businesses and putting together a giveaway is a great way to gain awareness surrounding the area's establishments, and builds excitement in travelers.

Because organizations like shops, restaurants, and campgrounds, are just as impacted by the surge in visitors to the area, their top priority should be marketing themselves well enough to attract both new and returning customers. This means their website should be current, informative, eye-catching, and easy to find in search results. People are searching on mobile now more than ever, which makes it incredibly important for websites to be Responsive, or mobile-friendly. Chances are, these searches are happening spontaneously and on-the-go. Don't miss out on opportunities because your site is difficult to navigate on a phone or because users can't find you online! If your website needs an update to a Responsive design or a boost in search results, we are happy to help you get there.

Smaller establishments that know they need to share their message, but don't have the need for event tools, or don't have as much content to share, may be wondering if there is an option best-suited for them. There is, and we have it! Our solution for these establishments (bars, food vendors, food trucks, etc.) is our Runwaysite program. Runwaysites are single-page websites that are both mobile and Google friendly, and are a more cost-effective way to easily share to-the-point information. Like our full websites, these are client-controlled, which allows the client to update content as needed, and change offers seasonally.

While summer is a crucial time for the tourism industry, marketing for your establishment needs to be year-round, though definitely amplified in these warmer months. If you need help attracting more visitors, we'd love to chat!

Does Your Park Need a Reservation Management System?

PaRkS - Parks Reservation System was created in 2009, the result of a collaboration between DMI Studios and two of our clients: Oconto County and Marinette County. Both counties found themselves experiencing the same frustrations with booking camping and lodge/shelter reservations. At this point, their procedures were entirely offline - reservations had to be made over the phone, or in person at the appropriate county building. They were both looking for a way to alleviate the crush of camping and shelter reservations at the first of the year and the piles of paperwork associated with the process.

After extensive consultation and planning, a solution was born to accommodate county workers, campers, and shelter-seekers alike, which eventually developed into the full-blown product that is now known as PaRkS - Parks Reservation System.


The back-end management of this system works as a huge time saver for county or park staff. It eliminates paperwork and significantly reduces the time and energy spent on tasks associated with reservations. Through this system, site administrators can easily view detailed reports about their parks, vary campsite pricing and minimum stay by season or holiday, create promotional codes to increase occupancy, track problem campers, maintain accounts for repeat customers, and allow users to cancel their reservation with optional penalty fees. PaRkS websites can also be used to broadcast important news and alerts to campers and/or those in the vicinity.

PaRkS' self-service model not only serves as a convenience to park or grounds staff, it is designed to accommodate the end-user as well. From their home and in their pajamas, or on the go from their phone, reservations can be made whenever and wherever it works for the camper. With the entire reservation process online, campers can easily choose which campsite they prefer by browsing all available options. As a necessary benefit to both campers and park staff, all payments within this system are made in secure transactions.

At DMI, we know how unique each park system is. From campgrounds, to shelter rentals, to pass and permit sales, to fairgrounds activities, every park and park system has its own special features to highlight. So when we created PaRkS, we made sure each website was 100% customizable. Campgrounds can indicate site-specific options like firewood or ice add-ons, or interactive grounds maps. Site admins also custom design the look and feel of their website. Whether they want it to match a different county site, or want it to stand out on its own, they have full say over design.

Want an idea of what current PaRkS websites offer? Check out a few recent sites for Wisconsin counties Fond du Lac, Washington, and St. Croix.


Fond du Lac County Parks & Fairgrounds:
https://www.fdlcountyparks.com

Washington County Planning & Parks:
https://www.washcoparks.com

St. Croix County Parks System:
https://parks.co.saint-croix.wi.us


Looking for a PaRkS - Parks Reservation System website for your park? We'd love to chat!

Is a Runwaysite For You?

Spring is the time for new beginnings: flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, baby animals are wobbling around, companies are getting Runwaysites. You read that right. Runwaysite websites are an affordable way to update an old website with a fresh and professional new look, to get found on search engines, and to provide accurate and current information to your customers.

Runwaysites have myriad uses, for small to medium-sized businesses. They are perfect to develop a much-needed presence on search engines, and to have a place to direct traffic to from a Facebook page. Because they are both mobile and Google friendly, your users will be able to easily find and navigate your website on any device.



Businesses hosting or attending large events, like those in the tourism industry, can use a Runwaysite as a call-to-action for the event. Instead of directing traffic to their full website, and then to a specific calendar event, a Runwaysite with an event-specific URL is much easier for the hosts to promote and the attendees to find. Because these sites are fully customizable, the header, color scheme, and/or logo can all remain consistent with the full website, but have its own content geared towards the event. Similarly, when attending conferences or trade shows, Runwaysites can be used to get key details front and center, but still provide more in-depth company information on a full, separate website.

Small retailers that want to sell their product, but don't have the need or funds for a full e-commerce site can benefit from having the online presence with a Runwaysite. Through this avenue, they can market their product, and build awareness for their brand, while directing sales through a third party provider such as Etsy or Shopify. Traffic can be directed from a Facebook page to give the consumer more information about the products, and then sent to the sales site.

While Runwaysites may seem to be most beneficial to small businesses, medium-sized companies can also use these, especially during a transitional period. Perhaps a business does not have the need or funds for a full website right away, but knows they will in the future. Runwaysites are the perfect stepping stone. Your brand will build its online presence, or get a professional-looking upgrade to an old site to attract the customers your businesses wants and deserves. When it comes time to transitioning into a full site, a Runwaysite can still be used as an event website to ensure the original investment remains useful.


Interested in a Runwaysite? Take a look at some sites to get an idea of what yours could look like.


http://www.runwaysite.com/

http://www.pioneerroofcleaning.com/

http://www.unit4you.com/

http://www.thebridalevents.net/

http://www.logs2life.com/

http://www.ridgeviewliquor.com/

http://www.nanlandllc.com/



Does Runwaysite sound like the perfect solution for your brand? Hit us up, and we'll be happy to chat!