Posts about web design, site structure, coding, etc.

THE NEED FOR SPEED

The Real Deal with Bob Kehoe

A few years ago, we worked with a very lucrative Midwest-based property management company, who sought out our services for their website. At the same time in which we were enhancing their Internet presence, they were also changing their management software from an antiquated program (think second Clinton term era) to a more streamlined and user-friendly program.

Having developed close relationships with their IT staff, I was often kept in the loop as to the progress of the software switch. After the launch, the new program crawled to the extent that employees returned to the DOS-based Clinton era software. Unfortunately, the property management company was tied to the new program contractually, and it would be several months – and ‘excruciating” ones at that, according to the IT head – before the kinks were worked out. Meanwhile, prospects and anyone else wanting to access the company’s site had to have the patience of a saint or bounce – the majority of them bounced.

How Site Speed Affects Your Sales

Significant loading time can be a factor in making or breaking a sale or scare off prospects from making further inquiries into a company’s operations. In an infographic provided by Kissmetrics, the following data was revealed related to consumers and page load time issues:

Could your site benefit from loading faster? GET A FREE SITE SPEED ANALYSIS

 

  • Nearly 50% of consumers anticipate waiting 2 seconds for a web page to load
  • 25% the users bounce from a website if the load time takes more than 4 seconds
  • 79% of shoppers were less likely to purchase from a site based on its subpar performance

 

Additionally, Amazon reported that a 100-millisecond increase in page speed translated to a 1% increase in its revenue. In 2010 Google announced that page load time is part of their ranking algorithm. If all this isn’t enough to convey the significance of page load speed to a business owner, I don’t know what is.

 

HOW DO WE REMEDY A SLOW WEBSITE?

In the end, our overall goal is to have our clients up and running come the day to go live, glitch-free and optimized. We want our clients’ to profit from our work on their websites and for their consumers or viewers to spend quality time purchasing their goods or services, not waiting to see what they have to offer and, in the end, go somewhere else.

 

The Leverage development team tests the speed and usability of your site before launching, and is able to diagnose and fix page loading problems your site may currently be experiencing, whether they be due to a lack of image optimization, files that need to be compressed, web hosting, setting up browser caching or minification of Java and CSS files.

 

To talk to one of our design experts on how your design or coding may be affecting your web site speed, contact us now by phone or form and we’ll get back to you right away with some answers.

Nuts & Bolts of Online Niche Marketing | Leverage Marketing

When I was a young teenager – think between 13 and 15 years old – pickings were slim for a lot of my peers when it came to generating income independently.

 

Too old to completely rely on an allowance from your folks and, with the minimum age to work a proper part time job being 16, too young to find anything steady and that paid regularly, my choices, as well as most of my friends growing up in my neighborhood in the early 80s, were basically regulated to paper routes, cutting lawns, and odd jobs and errands for neighbors and family members.

 

Danny was a junior high school friend of mine who found a unique approach to lining his pockets:  most Saturday mornings, a couple days a week during the summer and on the occasional school day off, Danny weighed and filled tiny boxes of screws, nuts and bolts for a company that provided supplies to a supply wholesaler that catered primarily to electrical and industrial wholesale companies.

 

This being junior high, Danny was the butt of many a wisecrack and often went by the handle “screwball” or “screwhead,” depending on which clique you were in. But I gave Danny a lot of credit: he was industrious enough – or jumped at the opportunity offered by a friend or family connection – to take on work for himself at a job that wasn’t the norm for your average young urban teen.

 

I am extremely loath to refer to the company Danny worked for as “off the beaten path” but, as I’ve seen over the years,  many a small business that caters to a specific professional sect  give little, if any, attention to their wholesale internet marketing.

 

The business owners or CEO’s rationale for this may be valid: their companies primarily attract vendors and companies with whom they’ve already established working relationships, companies already considering doing business with them, and their competition. Also, given the industry-specific nature of their operations, a niche marketing strategy with a thriving website isn’t essential and/or worth investing in.

a key to specialty marketing success is in the content

Yet Leverage has made many specialized business owners change their tune in this regard and reap rewards he or she never thought possible with their niche marketing and online presence.

 

A key to this success is in content, and this is where the specialized nature of the business works in their favor. Online, we have a canvas to be thorough in our description of the business, its products or services, and its operations. We also have the opportunity to educate site readers on the history and workings of the particular industry as well. Throw in continuous updates with industry-minded news and content, and that website becomes a destination for those vendors, prospects, and competitors and the company may be recognized as leaders in their field.

 

Recently, we broadened the Internet horizons for a data center equipment company, a document scanning business and data storage outfit. And these are only three specialty companies who have seen what informing prospects online can do for them, thanks to the Leverage touch. As a prime example, our client selling data center equipment has seen an 858% increase in organic traffic since May of this year.

 

While a company’s reach may be tailored to a specific group, the opportunities a well-constructed and informative site can provide can prove to be boundless in the long run.

 

To get help with your online niche marketing approach, Contact Us.

Insuring Optimum Mobility

Responsive Design for mobile shopping

© Solidsdman | Dreamstime.com – Mobile Retail Shopping Photo

For many folks, insurance is perceived as an evil, be it a necessary one or otherwise.

 

But a few days ago, I found myself actually amazed by insurance. Or, to be more specific, how that industry has embraced mobile technology.

 

A friend of mine works as a sales representative for a big-name commercial insurance company, specializing in small business liability and property coverage. Like many, he and I both alternated between shooting the breeze, feeding our faces, and tending to our respective smartphones when we met up for lunch.

 

At one point, he raised his fist in victory, having bound coverage for a 24-unit condominium – a $10,000 policy when all was said and done – with a few scrolls and punches on his iPhone.  He then gave me an impromptu demonstration, creating a full and thorough quote for an apartment building that was good to be bound from where we sat. From start to finish, it took him ten minutes, I’d say, to put the quote together.

 

“Even ten years ago, this would’ve taken us at least a day to get a quote like this together,” he said. “From here, I can e-mail a full proposal to a client and offer multiple coverage options. Anyone that knows just enough about quoting insurance to be dangerous and knows how use an iPhone can do this. I’m not kidding.”

 

He’s right. The fields he went through to enter the quote were simple to understand and simple to maneuver. And for me, the setup and design of the quoting program he used was as impressive as his ability to create a $4,500 apartment quote over a chicken sandwich and diet coke.

 

The availability of the technology at his fingertips – especially given the competitive nature of his profession – as well as the user-friendly mobile responsive design of the program is paying off for my friend with his bosses when they track his sales numbers.

 

Websites that are optimized for mobile viewing are seemingly becoming the norm these days rather than the exception; Google is now alerting users if a site isn’t mobile-friendly as opposed to indicating a site has mobile capabilities. To me, that’s saying something about the importance of mobile accessibility for both the myriad of businesses embracing the platform as well as their visitors.

 

Additionally, the program my friend used to generate the quote was, he said, the same as the one he used at his office and on his laptop. Today, one website takes care of both pc/laptop and mobile strati as opposed to separate sites for each individual use, which was the case early on in the mobile era.

 

While mobile operations are becoming more and more commonplace, we at Leverage have long been aware of its potential and the rewards clients can reap from factoring this into their overall online operations.  We incorporate mobile use into our plans for clients and see the rewards of its applications and designs as essential in the long run.

 

Case in point: a client of ours who switched to a mobile-responsive design saw his order volume increase more than 150% over the first six months of this year when compared to the same time period last year. Additionally, his order revenue nearly matched that, up 148% the first half of 2014 compared to the first half of 2013.

 

Seeing my friend make $10K over lunch on his hand-held device and watching clients up their total revenue by 148% YOY reinforces my belief that there are many other companies out there that haven’t begun to scratch the surface of the potential benefits from smart phone ecommerce and responsive design. We’re ready to start scrolling and tapping away on any size device when you are.

 

Your Mom Hates Your Site

Your mom may be a lot like visitors to your web site. She may not want to or be able to tell you the bad news — your site sucks. Your site could actually be a huge factor in why you’re not seeing leads, sales and other conversions. In fact, a new study by the Missouri University of Science and Technology has found that it only takes two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an opinion of your brand. Read more

Actionable Steps to Improve Your Website & Web Traffic in 2014

Audit and improve your website in 2014Whether it be a change in your lifestyle, family or business, the New Year is always a great time to start anew and make improvements. If you’ve resolved to improve your company’s website  and web traffic in 2014, we’ve got you covered. The best way to go about making real-life changes from any aspect is to first recognize and understand the problem. At Leverage we call this process the Audit phase. The most valuable thing you can do to start making changes on your site and get more traffic  is to audit it first. Once you gain awareness of possible problems, you can begin planning your solutions. Read more

How Important Is Landing Page Optimization?

Landing Page Heat MapIf your company relies on generating leads or selling products online, landing page optimization (LPO) is essential to your success. Depending on the size of your company, you could be losing thousands to millions of dollars a year due to something as miniscule as the text on your call to action button. Let’s take a look at some of the factors on your landing page that could boost your customer conversion rate between 20%-300%.
Read more

Before building the mobile version of your site, consider this:

People have access to mobile devices from virtually anywhere and shopping behavior is changing as well with the growing usage of smartphones and tablets. Studies and research have shown that consumers even prefer to use their smartphone/tablet at home, while watching TV instead of turning on their laptops or desktops. Many advertisers are only slowly adapting to this change by specifically targeting mobile users online. They are also often forgetting what happens after the consumer clicked on their online ad from their mobile device. Do they have a mobile-friendly site in place? What if the site doesn’t show up in the right format and the consumer leaves right away?

But before you begin to just blindly build out a mobile site for your business, you should be aware of two different ways to do so. You can either create a separate mobile website for your business or use a responsive design instead.

What is responsive design? Responsive design is an emerging trend among web developers which adapts to the device a consumer uses to view your website, whether it’s a tablet, smartphone or laptop. While a website built with responsive design automatically resizes for different devices, the advertiser still has to decide the content he wants to prioritize. Smartphone users might be more interested to find your contact information quickly, while tablet users just try to simplify their online purchases on the go or sitting at home on the couch. With responsive design you could focus on a click-to-call button for smartphone users, while the tablet site could prioritize the whole shopping experience, from selecting the product to an easy check-out process. If you wonder about the technical details to build a mobile-friendly site with responsive design, please read Google webmaster team’s blog post.

The illustration by Google below shows a quick overview and points out differences between the two approaches.

Google also helps you decide which mobile approach is best for your business with a few guidelines.

What you need to know, if you decide to use responsive design:

  • You don’t necessarily have to build a completely new site, if you want to use responsive design. A sophisticated web developer can implement the necessary changes and make adjustments. However, you should be aware of additional costs in terms of time and budget.
  • There will only be one URL for desktop, mobile and tablets for a site built with responsive design. If you built a separate mobile site, this site typically uses a different mobile URL. However, users should be taken there automatically if the desktop site has an auto redirect code enabled.
  • It is hard to determine what a responsive design for mobile costs as prices vary by developer and agency.

For additional information on how to build a mobile-friendly site, finding resources as well as testing the site, visit howtogomo.com.

 

Coding Series: Part 3 – Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking

Conversion tracking is important, but if you are selling multiple products at multiple price points to customers who are purchasing multiple units, it is much more tangible to track actual revenue generated from these purchases in order to determine return on advertising spend (ROAS). Ecommerce data is tracked through Google Analytics. The reporting functionality allowed with Ecommerce Tracking provides critical information into the behavior of your website visitors and is the only way to measure the sales cycle, including how many visits or days it takes for a purchase to take place.

Benefits: Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce reporting in Google Analytics will provide insight into which traffic sources are resulting in purchases, such as paid search or organic traffic, as well as the average value of a purchase, ecommerce conversion rate, purchases by day, revenue by geographic region, and the value of each website visit. This data can help you determine what marketing efforts are resulting in the most revenue for your business, which keywords convert best and are most cost effective, and who your target customer really is.

How It Works: Ecommerce Tracking

Ecommerce tracking works similarly to page view tracking in that data is sent to a Google Analytics server via a JavaScript Code. When a visitor submits a transaction to your server, the data is then processed. Once the transaction is processed, your server prepares a receipt to send back to the visitor. With the code correctly installed, the server will receive and process the transaction data. As the receipt is being prepared, some of the transaction data is extracted from the server and submitted to Google Analytics by way of the Google Analytics JavaScript. Simultaneously, a receipt is sent to the visitor’s browser while the ecommerce data is sent to Google Analytics. Google Analytics tracks both transaction data (transaction ID, purchase total, tax, shipping, etc.) and item data (SKU, product name, unit price, quantity).

Code Implementation: Ecommerce Tracking

There are two necessary steps in order to start tracking ecommerce transactions.

  1. Enable ecommerce reporting for your website's profile in your reports.
  1. Configure your shopping cart's receipt page to send ecommerce data to Google Analytics.

The first step is to simply enable the ecommerce reports within Google Analytics. In the profile settings of Google Analytics, you can edit the website information to specify that you have an ecommerce site, which activates the reports. There are other settings to consider if you have an international ecommerce site.

Double check that the Google Analytics code is correctly installed on your receipt page. Without this, you will not be able to track transactions because the ecommerce code is placed right within the Google Analytics JavaScript code. The JavaScript can be installed anywhere on the receipt page as long as it’s placed after the main Google Analytics page tag.

  • Sample Ecommerce Tracking Code

<script type="text/javascript">
pageTracker._addTrans(
      "order-id", // required
      "affiliate or store name",
      "total",
      "tax",
      "shipping",
      "city",
      "state",
      "country"
);

pageTracker._addItem(
      "order-id", // required
      "SKU",
      "product name",
      "product category",
      "unit price",  // required
      "quantity"  //required
);

pageTracker._trackTrans();
</script>

Technical Details: Ecommerce Tracking

If you take a close look at this code, you will see that there are three parts to the JavaScript. There are three distinct methods or actions for each section.

  • _addTrans() creates and stores all of the information about the transaction.
  • The _addItem() method adds an item to the transaction. You will need an _addItem() section for each product or SKU in the transaction. The order ID must match the same order ID in the -addTrans() method; otherwise, Google Analytics can’t tie the item to a transaction.
  • _trackTrans() method sends the data to Google Analytics by requesting the _utm.gif file once for the transaction and another time for each item in the transaction.

Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking provides reports on total revenue, conversion rate, average order value, product overview, product SKUs, categories, transactions, visits to purchase, and time to purchase. One of the main benefits to online marketing is being able to track all of your results, and with Ecommerce Tracking, you can tie sales revenue to performance and determine the return on investment for your marketing efforts. To find out more visit: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/gaTrackingEcommerce.html. If you have any other questions about Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking or how to install the code, please feel free to follow up with your Leverage Marketing account manager.

Google Reading Level

In my search to find out something new on Google today I stumbled upon Reading Level. Reading Level is an interesting feature that Google debuted in late 2010.

Reading Level is a way for a searcher to filter search results to a specific reading level. Google classifies the sites on Google.com “based primarily on statistical models we built with the help of teachers. We paid teachers to classify pages for different reading levels, and then took their classifications to build a statistical model. With this model, we can compare the words on any webpage with the words in the model to classify reading levels. We also use data from Google Scholar, since most of the articles in Scholar are advanced.”

Reading a bit more on the subject it seems that website builders/SEO’s are unable to update Google on what level of content the website is (beginner, intermediate or advanced).

Next I did the following ten searches on Google:

  1. Fly fishing
  2. Chemistry (2)
  3. Oxygen bleach (1)
  4. dress for success
  5. automobile maintenance schedule
  6. Wolong China Panda Preserve
  7. Cement Producers Association
  8. best practices for teaching (1)
  9. quotes about conformity (5)
  10. headphones

The number behind the query is the level that I found the first advanced search result in – no number indicates an advanced reading level did not appear on page one of my search query. As you can see, for the most part (90%) the uppermost ranking of SERPS appear to be reserved for beginner or intermediate users.

I wanted to be sure that I gave Google enough Advanced Results to choose from so I next did a search for process identification and mapping.

Although 93% of the results are identified as Advanced – Google chooses to show an intermediate reading level result for the first 3 SERPS.

What do you think? Do you think reading level has anything to do with SERP rankings? Do you think that Google chooses a lower reading level to be more relevant to what Google may believe most searchers are looking for or is it easier to optimize content for pages with beginner or intermediate level results?   We will continue to look into this phenomenon and keep you updated.

Coding Series: Part I – How To Install Google Analytics

This is the first post in what will likely be a five-part instructional series on valuable codes that can easily be installed, and if done so correctly, Google Analytics will provide substantial insight into your website traffic and your return on advertising dollars.

Google Analytics is one of Google’s free tools that allows advertisers to customize over 80 reports to track all activity on their website. Advertisers can gain key insights into what visitors do and how those actions contribute to the success of their business through these customizable reports focused on visitors, traffic sources, content, goals, and ecommerce.

Code Implementation: Google Analytics

Signing up for Google Analytics is simple and free, with four easy steps to complete before accessing a world of analytics. Go to https://www.google.com/analytics/provision/signup to get started. Once the account is set up, you can find your personal code snippet within the Profile Settings of your Google Analytics account.

To access your tracking code from Google Analytics:

  1. Log in at http://www.google.com/analytics.
  2. Select the profile from the accounts Overview page.
  3. From that profile’s Actions column, click ‘Edit.’
  4. At the top right of the ‘Main Website Profile Information’ box, click ‘Check Status.’
  5. The tracking code can be copied and pasted from the text box in the Instructions for Adding Tracking section.

Code snippet sample:

<script>
var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl/.” : “http://www.”);
document.write(unescape(“”));
</script>
<script>
try{
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);
pageTracker._trackPageview();
} catch(err) {}
</script>

For basic installation, copy and paste the code segment into the bottom of your content, immediately before the </body> tag of each page you are planning to track. You will need to update the “xxxx-x” in the sample above with your own Google Analytics account number.

Gauging Performance: Google AdWords with Google Analytics

In Adwords, a user’s action is labeled a “conversion,” whereas the same activity in Analytics is listed as a “goal.” In order for Google Analytics to calculate goal conversion metrics, you must create one or more goals.

Before setting up a goal, make sure you have the following requirements.

  • Name the goal: Specify a name that you will recognize when viewing the goals within your reports. Examples of names you might use include ’email sign-up’ or ‘article ABC download.’
  • Define the funnel: While funnels are optional, defining one can help you map where visitors drop off during the path to completing a goal.
  • The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics.

Setting up goals:

  1. Select the account that you’ll be creating goals for from the Overview page of Google Analytics.
  2. Find the profile for which you will be creating goals, and click ‘Edit’ under the ‘Actions’ column.
  3. Under the ‘Goals’ section, select one of the four sets to create the goal (each set contains up to five goals) and click ‘Add goal.’
  4. Enter the goal’s name so that you can quickly recognize it when viewing reports.
  5. Turn the goal ‘On’ or ‘Off.’
  6. Select the goal’s position. The pull-down menu allows you to select a goal’s position in a set so that you can control the order in which it appears from the ‘Goals’ tab in your reports.
  7. Decide which one of the three types of goals you want. This can be URL Destination, Time on Site, or Pages/Visit.
  8. Once you select the radio button for the goal type, a field for ‘Goal Details’ should appear.

Here’s a great example from Google on how to set the value of a goal:

“The value of the goal: Google Analytics uses an assigned goal value to calculate ROI, Average Score, and other metrics. A good way to value a goal is to evaluate how often the visitors who reach the goal become customers. If, for example, your sales team can close 10% of people who request to be contacted, and your average transaction is $500, you might assign $50 (i.e. 10% of $500) to your “Contact Me” goal. In contrast, if only 1% of mailing list signups result in a sale, you might only assign $5 to your “email sign-up” goal.”

Defining funnels:

After entering goal information, define a funnel if you’ve selected a ‘URL Destination’ goal type:

  1. Click ‘Yes, create a funnel for this goal.’
  2. Enter the ‘URL’ of the first page of your conversion funnel. This page should be one that is common to all users working their way towards your goal.
  3. Enter a ‘Name’ for this step.
  4. If this step is a ‘Required step’ in the conversion process, select the checkbox to the right of the step. If this checkbox is selected, users reaching your goal page without traveling through this funnel page will not be counted as conversions.
  5. Continue entering goal steps until your funnel has been completely defined. You may enter up to 10 funnel steps or as few as a single step.
  6. Click ‘Save Changes’ to create this goal and funnel.

Linking your AdWords account to Google Analytics will allow you to take advantage of extensive reporting options. It will also enable you to spot further ad opportunities by viewing AdWords conversions alongside Analytics goal/transactions. You can obtain detailed tracking information by creating customized statistics that will allow you to calculate return on investment.

To link:

  1. Add your AdWords username to your Analytics account as an Account Admin.
  2. In AdWords, select Reporting tab and choose ‘Google Analytics.’
  3. Select ‘I already have a Google Analytics account.’
  4. From the Existing Google Analytics Account drop-down menu, select the name of the Analytics account.
  5. Then, select ‘Link Accounts.’

Google Analytics is a smart web analytics solution that enables you to analyze website performance, gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaign, and create better-performing advertisements. To find out more visit: http://www.google.com/analytics/. If you have any other questions about the functionality of Google Analytics or how to install the code, please feel free to contact us or follow up with your Leverage Marketing account manager.

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