How to Make 2017 The Best Year Ever

New Year, New You...or so the saying goes, right? In January, we all make New Year's resolutions or set goals for self improvement. Do you think to do the same for your business? When you sit down to create a game plan for achieving your personal goals, set aside extra time to plan out the business goals you'd like to accomplish in the next 12 months. Not sure where to begin? We're glad you asked. These tips are sure to get you on the on the right track this year.



Ask yourself,

How well do your website and business mesh?

Your website should not only be an impressive reflection of your business, it should also match your social media presence, in addition to offline marketing materials. Maintaining consistency across all communication channels will help ensure your reputability.

  • Do your logos and branding align online and offline? Any documentation that is used internally or for customers that contains old or outdated logos or brand messaging should be updated. This includes contact information, and updating new or former employee information 
  • Is your messaging and voice consistent? Any communication your brand puts out should have the same tone, whether it be digital (website, social media, email) or traditional (mailers, print advertising). If someone is looking at pieces of your print and digital promotional materials, side by side without any logos, they should be able to tell it's written by the same company. If it's unclear, now is the time for an update.
  • Are your pricing and services offered consistent? Take a sweep of your website, social channels, and any offline materials that references prices or services. Make sure everything is accurate across the board. 
  • Do your social profiles look similar? We don't mean posting the exactly same content on each social channel. They are separate for a reason. However, do your profile and cover photos match across each platform? Are your "About" sections consistent? Take a sweep of your accounts to make sure everything is true to your brand. 

Goals for 2017

  • Have a Responsive website design - If your website is not yet mobile friendly, put a plan in place to ensure it will be this year. By now, if your site isn't Responsive, it's likely hurting your business.
  • Update your Local Listings - Do a Google search to check all listings, and make sure they are all both accurate and consistent. Anything you see that has wrong information, such as address, phone number, hours, and spelling of the business name, should be updated.  While you're at it, make sure everything is updated on your Google My Business account, including pictures of your building.
  • Claim your social profiles - We know that not every social media platform is a good fit for every business. And we would never tell you to stretch yourself too thin by having an active presence on every platform if the majority of your audience is only on one or two. However, you also don't want to completely ignore something that may be a viable option in the future. Create an account on the big networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat) before someone else creates one in your name, and it's too late for you.



If you need help achieving your goals for 2017, give us a call. We'd be happy to help you get there.

Websites DMI Studios Launched in 2016

We have been busy at DMI! This year, we have launched more than 33 websites, including 8 Runwaysites, 8 Responsive conversion redesigns, and 17 additional new websites, among others. These websites have been designed for myriad industries, from small, local businesses, to government agencies, to large corporations, throughout Wisconsin and beyond. Here's a sampling of what we have been up to in the last 12 months:


Runwaysites

Responsive Conversion Redesigns

Additional Websites



No matter the size of your business, agency, or organization, we have a web solution for you! Whether you need to upgrade an existing website, or you need to start from scratch with a brand new site, we're your guys (and girls). Contact us today to get started!

Is Your Website on the Naughty Or Nice List?

Santa Claus is coming to town. Will your website earn you a shiny, new toy for landing on the Nice list, or will you get a giant lump of coal for landing on the Naughty list?

If you're not sure how to tell where your website lands, we're here to help with three guaranteed ways to end up on each list.



Naughty List

  • Not being Responsive (mobile-friendly) - enough with making your customers pinch and zoom already! They'll abandon your site, or worse, Google will penalize it (if they haven't already).
  • Use of Flash - Depending on your device, Flash could leave a broken image on your website. Plus, it's strictly forbidden on iOS.
  • Text-heavy design - Too much text is overwhelming to the eye. Break your content into digestible chunks, and eliminate the fluff, so your visitors want to read your content

       Social media bonus

  • posting ad nauseam without a strategy - If you're posting on social, it should be relevant and purposeful. "Happy Monday!" just won't cut it if you want to be seen - especially organically.

Nice List

  • Image-centric design - Include visually appealing images to catch your visitor's attention, and to leave a strong impression of your business. Your website will look sharp and contemporary.
  • Optimized for SEO - If no one can find your website on search engines, what's the point of having it? Update your meta tags, work keywords into site content, and keep close tabs on Google Search Console. Read more here, and here.
  • Quick Load Times - You've only got a few seconds before people lose patience and abandon your site. Make sure you're using correct image sizes to help keep load times minimal.

      Social media bonus

  • Strong engagement - If you have an active social media presence, you're doing something right. If your customers are engaging regularly with your account, you're definitely doing something right.


Is your website on the Naughty List this year? Give us a call, and we'd be happy to make sure you're on the Nice list in 2017!

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.