Posts by: total-admin

Mobile-First: What it Changes

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It’s a term you hear often now concerning websites: mobile first-indexing. Beginning July 1st, 2019, you’ll be hearing it even more. Google will be crawling websites and indexing them based on their mobile versions.

Now, there’s a lot of confusion pertaining to the effects this could have on business owners. Questions like: What do I need to change? Is being mobile-friendly good enough? How will my ranking change? These are questions business owners have coursing through their minds, and if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you should be concerned too.

There’s a laundry list of things that go into creating a mobile-first site—everything from initial design to your site’s content length—and those things will now all be primary factors in determining your site’s page ranking.

Confused? To put it simply, your website’s mobile version will be what Google uses to rank in search queries–not your desktop. 

Before we delve into the effects of Google’s new indexing method, we have to answer a couple of questions.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Well, it’s relatively self-explanatory. Think about the word indexing. It’s the term Google uses to define their process of ranking websites online. Desktop has been the primary version graded on in this process, but starting July 1st, Mobile website versions will become the main index. Hence mobile-FIRST indexing. It’s not eliminating desktop indexing—just prioritizing mobile.

Google is shifting its algorithm to crawl the mobile version of websites. So, if your mobile site doesn’t quite measure up to the competition, your business could suffer.

So, why is Google doing this?

The rise in mobile use is no surprise. Smartphones, tablets, and iPads have become more economical and practical for everyday life. Their ease of use and accessibility afford users with immediate information. In fact, over 60% of searches are done on a mobile device. So, it makes sense that Google is making the switch to mobile-first indexing. Therefore, sites that have adapted to the increase in mobile use will be rewarded with better page rankings and increased traffics.

What should I change?

Even if your site is responsive and nearly identical in its desktop and mobile versions, there are factors that should be optimized. Page load speed, content, structured data, and metadata are just a few of the elements that go into building a fully mobile-first site. Mobile-first sites combine search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts to create a simplified user experience that is easily utilized on mobile devices.

Overwhelmed? Understandable! It’s a lot of information to process and the prospect of redesigning a site to be fully mobile-first is daunting. The web has greatly evolved over the years, and mobile-first indexing has evolved with it. Google’s new method of indexing is meant to improve user experience

The world of page rankings and indexing is a complex one that few have mastered, but your creative experts and branding specialists at Total are among that few! We have embraced the lifestyle change mobile has caused, and Total designs every site for mobile. Our years of experience and passion for innovation have enabled us to give our clients real results and continually improve business.

Check out some of the Total Team’s work to see how we can transform your website:

Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC

HARBEC

MCK Building Associates, Inc. 

Contact us today to schedule a free, comprehensive analysis of your website! 

What do You Meme?

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“To meme, or not to meme: that is the question.”

Perhaps not the direct quote from Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet soliloquy. But we have to wonder: if the self-obsessed Hamlet was a modern-day advertiser, would he pose this existential question? Speculation aside, memes have swept the internet by storm with their relatability and simplistic model of humor. Advertisers have recognized the potential these viral images pose to attract Millennials and Gen Z’ers, and a few have even capitalized on this facet of the Internet. While some succeed, most fall short because creating a relevant and successful meme is no small task.

The history of memes is a complex one that begins in 1976. Coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, a meme is representative of one way cultural information can spread. The Internet meme as we know it wasn’t conceptualized until 1993 in the June issue of Wired. In its simplest format, a meme is an image with text over it. Something like this:

Oh yes, we’re throwing it back to the days of lolcats.

Memes have become part of pop culture and influenced other memes. They were originally shared by email, chat groups, or message boards, but now there are whole platforms—like Reddit and Tumblr— devoted to meme posting.

The benefits of using a meme on your social media are many. Memes produce an immediate reaction, are easily shareable and can be relatable if done right. An exemplary company would be Wendy’s. Their Twitter is full of pop culture references that play well to their audience, creating a unique voice that encourages customer interaction and feedback.

So, if memes can be such a good thing, why isn’t EVERY company doing it?

Well, comedy is at the heart of every meme. And let’s face it: not everyone is funny. Memes guarantee an immediate reaction—whether its laughter or disdain—and for memes to be effective, a brand must be incredibly in-tune with its audience. Memes are shareable, trendy, recognizable content that aims for the quick laugh and can either attract or repel consumers.

But come on—how hard can it be!?

Well, the answer is surprisingly. Using a meme to push product and build brand recognition can easily be construed as disingenuous, and companies who get it wrong often end up looking like this:

Even if you’re not a fan of 30 Rock, you get the point. Steve Buscemi dressed as a “youth” lugging around a skateboard doesn’t play. This is how some companies look when they post an irrelevant or misused meme. The word we’re looking for? Cringeworthy.

Who knew typing a few words over an image would be such a daunting task?

Trying too hard to be “hip and cool” results in cringeworthy posts that are unrelatable and turn-off the target audience. Millennials are far more than the avocado-loving, kombucha-drinking, napkin-killing stereotypes they’re often presumed to be. This generation, and the following Gen Z’ers, have created an entire culture around memes with genres, sub-genres, and niches that offer a form of catharsis. Memes have evolved from simplistic images with no relevance to becoming part of the culture. Self-expression, satire, and introspection are just some affordances of memes and understanding how—or even if—they resonate with your target audience is a crucial step in formulating your social media brand.

Internet humor is a fickle beast and its subjectivity makes creating the proper meme a tough task. Even the above Steve Buscemi may make you cringe or exhale sharply through your nose. It all depends upon the audience. So, how do you know what to post? Well, the experts at Total can tell you! Though we don’t post memes, our team of creative experts and branding specialists can take your social media to the next level, building brand presence and increasing business.

Contact us today for real results and a better brand strategy!

The Rise of the Influencer

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In the world of beauty bloggers, lifestyle accounts, and viral videos, a new celebrity has been born in the 21st century: The Influencer.

Kim Kardashian West, Huda Kattan, PewDiePie, Christiano Rinaldo, and thousands of other Social Media Influencers have shaped the future of marketing. What was once “the next big thing” is here to stay, proving its relevance and effectiveness in engaging a loyal audience.

But what is Influencer Marketing?

Simply put, it’s a hybrid between old and new marketing styles. Taking the age-old idea of a celebrity endorsement and combining it with the power of Social Media. But instead of using a famous actress or singer, online influencers are used.

Influencer Marketing is a common practice for internationally known brands. In fact, the rise of Influencer Marketing has enabled influencers to become celebrities in the traditional sense, gaining endorsement deals. Pepsi, partnering with Kendall Jenner, Sprint collaborating with influencers—like Lele Pons and Gerard Adams—and Stride Gum teaming up with The King of Snapchat, DJ Khaled, for a takeover campaign on the platform. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and almost every other social media platform are being utilized by brands to engage audiences and gain loyal customers.

So, how do we define who an Influencer is?

Well, there’s no clear-cut definition. The Urban Outfitters Halloween Costume, though a parody of the trend, was a clever and insightful play on what it takes to be an Influencer. Influencers encompass all facets of the social spectrum. Whether it’s beauty guru Huda Kattan or YouTube sensation PewDiePie, influencers can be anyone, anywhere, at any time. There is one common denominator these people all share: followers. The rise of Social Media has enabled anyone with a smartphone to become an Influencer capable of reaching millions.

And the followers are exactly who advertisers want.

The adage of “famous for being famous” is something reality celebs have taken to the bank… a few MILLION times. Influencers are the reality TV stars of the Internet Age. This attitude may seemingly fit, but these “celebs” have accrued a faithful following. Not only gaining popularity but more importantly, trust. Influencers put time, energy, and thought into every post, tweet, and snapchat. So, when they decide to endorse a product, it must be one they would actually use and feel would resonate with their following.

Influencer marketing is far more complex than a celebrity endorsement deal.

It’s not just attaching a famous name to a well-known brand. It’s cultivating a relationship and analyzing a very niche audience. This affords more quality leads and can even get the brand a more faithful following.

Perhaps the best—and most infamous—example of Influencer Marketing is the tragic Fyre Festival. What was marketed as a Luxury Music Festival quickly unraveled into one of the biggest event coordination blunders. Soaked tents, dirty mattresses, no water, and bread with salad dressing is the legacy of this once highly anticipated festival. But how did it get here? Well, through the help of Influencers like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Hailey Baldwin, Fyre Festival quickly became the most anticipated event of 2017. All it took was one photo posted to each model’s account. The post linked to a promotional video promising “…an immersive music festival…two transformative weekends…on the boundaries of the impossible.” The weekend was anything but. A genius Influencer Marketing campaign, but arguably one of the most poorly executed events in recent history.

Social Media Influencers have millions of people at their fingertips, and this new power has people asking the question: when a picture is worth a thousand words, why write more than a caption?

Alexa, How Does Vocal Search Work?

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Within the past five years, methods of vocal search have drastically evolved. The shift from simple speech-to-text to smart home devices—like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home—is changing the way search engines organize queries. More importantly, vocal search is shaping the way we request information and even our perception of search engines across the board.

But what is vocal search?

Well, simply put, it’s a function that allows users to search the web using a spoken voice command as opposed to typing. Pretty straight forward when you think about how advanced a device has to be to accomplish such a task. A vocal search can be conducted on both desktop and mobile devices by using a “wake” phrase like: “Okay, Google,” or “Hey, Alexa.” Searches can be done with a hands-free voice command or by tapping an icon. It’s a lot like Siri, and there’s not much difference between a regular typed search query and a vocal search.

So, how does a device understand your voice?

Well, it starts with familiarization.

Devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home “learn” your voice. They analyze the unique characteristics of your voice but also your behavior, browsing interests, and other personal information. How devices breakdown your speech pattern is categorized into five speech categories: Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, and Reasoning.

These components of speech are all examined by your smart device and incorporated into your search query results. Every colloquialism, accent, and pronunciation is absorbed and analyzed to create the most concise and accurate search results. Another factor is the language used when conducting a vocal search. The average person can type 40 words-per-minute(wpm) but speaks at an average speed of 150wpm. Vocal search affords the user a more specified search with less effort. So, sites that have a high volume of detailed content fare better in a vocal search query—a similar tactic used in SEO/SEM strategies. These longer search queries have wrought a new term: long-tail keywords.

This SEO term represents more specific phrases that resemble how people actually speak. When you conduct a typed search, your text is short and concise. If you’re conducting a vocal search, chances are your query is more lengthy and specific. These keywords have a better click-through rate, and, if your site incorporates them into your content, could improve visibility and impression share.

How is this changing search queries?

Vocal searches have become more relevant due to their integration with smart devices. Creating a “smart home” is a popular trend, and tech companies are running with it, looking to the world of Advertising to push their products and increase vocal search. From “Near Me” searches to looking up movie times, vocal search is becoming more and more relevant.

Another new term has grown out of the smart-home boom. In a world where sites live and die by SEO/SEM, the phrase “Answer Engine Optimization (AEO)” has joined the Digital Marketing milieu. To the joy of many Digital Specialists, SEO and AEO tactics tend to overlap, once again proving quality content that’s informative and well-written will boost your site’s page ranking and drive traffic.

Why are people using vocal search?

Well, this style of search drastically improves user experience. Since 2013, vocal search queries have risen exponentially, eliminating scrolling, typing, and even screens. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z’ers, users are appreciating the ease and precision a vocal search query offers, and Digital Marketers are noticing. Sites optimized for devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home can drastically bump up their search ranking. Google, Bing, and other search engines are now incorporating vocal search compatibility into their SEO ranking procedure. Because a vocal search query provides more detailed keywords—remember long-tail keywords?—content should be catered to help search engines find the best and most accurate information as quickly as possible.

But what are people searching for? How do I know what keyword phrases to use?

It all depends upon the demographic. Age, location, gender, and countless other factors are incorporated into optimizing sites for vocal search optimization. And how can you effectively optimize your site? Well, we won’t tell you—we’ll show you! The creative experts and branding specialists at Total will get your site results—building credibility and bumping up your search ranking.

Contact the Total Team to get the most out of your site and boost business! 

Getting Down with OTT

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Are you down with OTT?

Gone are the days of the big TV networks, and here to stay are the days of streaming services. Companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and many more are shifting the power dynamic, ushering in a new age of creative content: Over-the-Top (OTT). Now, broadcast giants are on edge, clamoring for a chance to grab their slice of OTT pie.

What it Means

Before we delve into the effects OTT has had on the resilient and adaptive world of advertising, we must give a quick overview of what it actually is. The name OTT, shorthand for over-the-top, stems from references to any device capable of going “over” a cable/digital converter box—think Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, gaming consoles, and even laptops—bypassing broadcast stations and relying on the internet to stream content. But within this shorthand, there can be confusion. Companies often muddle the waters between OTT and CTV (Connected TV). CTVs are devices connected to the internet—Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku, etc…— they allow OTT content to be streamed for your viewing pleasure. True OTT refers to the content streamed through an internet connected device. Your subscription to Netflix or Hulu and the content on those services is a more accurate description of OTT.

Where do advertising and digital marketing come into play? Well, agencies, like Total, are able to hyper-focus ads and personalize them for OTT content subscribers. By using data from a customer’s digital footprint, streaming services are able to track behavior. It’s similar to cookies tracking your browser history. Because OTT content is streamed through the internet, your habits are able to be tracked and information collected. The data accumulated from a subscriber’s internet habits are combined to specifically target ads to consumers. Demographic, behavior, time-of-day, and even geographic location all play a role in creating relatable and effective ad impressions.

So, how do the traditional TV Ads compare to OTT Ads?

TV Ad:

Through rating services, like Nielsen, TV sales associates are able to give a rough estimate and demographics of how many and who your spot will reach. It’s a guessing game really because you never truly know how many or who see your advertisement. When you sell to a TV station, you are sending your advertisement into a nebulous cloud with the hopes of it reaching your target demo and getting results.

OTT Ad:

This affords a far more direct method of advertising. Instead of casting a wide net, as the world of broadcast TV, OTT content providers are able to specifically target ads by tracking subscribers’ internet habits and patterns, like following a trail of breadcrumbs. This affords businesses with more quality hits compared to the guessing game of TV.

Some streaming services make advertisements a priority over subscribers. Think Hulu—they offer multiple subscription plans for customers that can play multiple ads before a show or none at all—it just depends upon how much you’re willing to pay. Compare this to Cable TV. You’re guaranteed to view commercials if you’re paying for providers like Spectrum or Verizon FiOS, but with OTT services, the amount of ads is limited to none. This gives the viewer more control but also proves a great advantage to advertisers.

And who are these advertisements most effectively reaching? The demographic all companies and advertisers are scrambling to attract: Millennials. By starting the trend of “cutting the cord,” Millennials have shifted the power dynamic and ushered in the Internet Age. This generation is developing spending habits and finding their brand. From hair products to cereal brands, Millennials are developing product loyalty. Cutting the cord is nothing new for this generation, and advertisers have adapted with surprising agility, using streaming services as a tool in predicting the habits of Millennials and hyper-focusing advertisements.

If you’re looking to “get down with OTT,” look no further! Your creative experts and branding specialists at Total are here for you. We’ll get your company on streaming services and hyper-focus your advertisements for quality results.

Contact us today!

Keeping Up with Conversion Rates

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Do you know your site’s conversion rate? If you have a Free Estimate, Trial Offer, Contact Form, or any other call-to-action on your site, you should know your conversion rate. When understood properly, this figure is capable of giving insight into your customers’ engagement level and the number of people who act on or perform your site’s desired action. From the moment your site loads on a screen, its agenda should be evident to the user.

But wait—what is a conversion rate?

Your site’s conversion rate is a percentage based on a ratio. There are two factors: people who actually “convert” (take action) and the number of visitors. If you’re thinking, “I know how many people act on my offer. I don’t need to know who doesn’t,” you’re wrong. It’s important to track not only your conversions but also the number of people who visit your site.

It’s like fishing. If you’re casting a net into waters teeming with thousands of fish and you only draw in five, your net may have some holes in it. That’s what your conversion rate tells you. Where are the holes in your net and how can you patch them?

Conversion Rate Basics

Calculating this number is simple: Conversions/Visitors*100. This will give your website’s percentage of conversions and let you know where your site falls on the spectrum.

The average website conversion rate sits at an underwhelming 2.35%. So, if your site reaches 50 people a day, only 1 person is acting on your offer. Though you may be pleased with this number, chances are, it can be better.

Tracking these numbers is crucial. If you’re clueless on your conversion rates, then you’re missing out on knowledge that could exponentially boost your sales, creating a sustainable business model. Your conversion rates will give you access to not only how many are engaging, but also who. This is far more important than attracting large numbers. Figuring out your key demographic affords a more effective marketing strategy, maximizing profits and streamlining your business practice.

The “How & Why”

There are many ways to increase conversion rates. The easiest, but least effective, is improving your site’s aesthetics. Spacing, color, and any other visual adjustments may boost your conversion rate by 5%. This is often the route most people take, but how long does that last? The answer—not very. While layout and aesthetics are important, this simple strategy is short-lived. Your site’s conversion rates will shortly plateau, and you’ll be back to square one. Building a high conversion rate should come before increasing overall traffic—quality over quantity.

The best sites have conversion rates of 11.45% or higher—rates many Total clients achieve every day. So, what does it take to get on this level? Well, some creativity is involved. Original content, new offer ideas, using a Conversion Rate Operating (CRO) Tool, changing the flow of your site, employing testimonials, videos, and speeding up your site’s load time are just some ways to boost your conversion rate. These strategies all correlate, optimizing your on-page experience and keeping customers coming back.

Wrapping Things Up

Feeling overwhelmed? There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful website, and you have to combine multiple strategies to create lasting success. Partnering with a Digital Marketing firm, like Total, is the best way to get your business results.

Total Advertising offers a comprehensive list of services, strategizing your Digital Marketing and creating a plan that will exponentially increase business. We do far more than boost conversion rates—though, we can do that for you. By combining creative content, efficient web development, SEO/SEM strategy, and every other aspect of Digital Marketing, Total will boost your business, increase profits, and give your company brand recognition.

Don’t let your site be average. Contact us today, and put the Total Team to work for you!