Jon Fox

Best Practices for High Converting Landing Pages

Let’s be clear about something. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marketing. Your company is unique, your goals come from those unique needs, and the way you target your audience should be supportive of it all.

These rules apply to landing pages, just like they apply to any other type of advertising; from social media ads to direct mail. So is a landing page right for your needs? Let’s take a look at a few factors.

The basics

If you’ve never used them before, landing pages work to optimize conversion and lead generation for your business. They provide a clean, simple place to direct customers who have clicked on your ads in places like search engine marketing or paid media. An important part of strategy is considering what ads brought a viewer to your landing page.

Landing page vs. website

Although landing pages can be designed to match the look and feel of your website, the two serve different purposes. While a website may be more informative, a well-optimized landing page has one main goal: to convert. Landing pages are more adaptable to quick changes, provide detailed traffic analytics, and are streamlined to persuade the visitor to act.

Best practices for information

In general, landing pages are kept simple. It’s a place to lightly expand on the ad that directed a consumer there, with a call-to-action that is up-front and easy to understand. This could be anything from getting a special offer, to unlocking special content–all in exchange for an email address or other information.

Ideas to keep in mind:

  • Focus on your offering. While there can be additional brand info, remember the consumer clicked to this page to learn more about the offer.
  • Main points “above the fold.” Although some people may scroll deeper into the page, others may want to cut to the chase right away.
  • Quick CTAs. Final action/lead gen forms should be easy to find and fill out. Keep requested info as simple as possible for higher lead rates.
Does this align with your brand needs?

After learning more about how a well-optimized landing page supports company outreach, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you looking to connect with more consumers?
  • Do you have something to offer in return for their info?
  • Do you have a strategy in place for how to use the data you collect?

If you can say yes to any of these questions, a high quality landing page is a useful next step to expanding your audience and growing your business.

Five Important Steps to Assess Your Website

If you’re considering updating or redesigning your website, there are five key steps that you should consider undertaking.

1. Heuristic Analysis: Evaluation of the user interface and assessment of overall site usability. The focus of this exercise is to outline what aspects of the site can be improved to enhance overall usability and business value.  You’ll want to examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”).  Areas of attention may include:

  • Navigation
  • Page Layout
  • Visual Design
  • Mobile Experience
  • Calls to Action/Interactivity
  • Forms

2. Content Audit: Next, you’ll want to look at your site’s content in order to identify content gaps and areas of emphasis from a content-perspective that can inform site enhancements.  Questions should include:

  • Does this support goals and/or have strategic value?
  • Is it factually accurate?
  • Do we like it?
  • Is it redundant or trivial?
  • Shareable?

3. Competitive Review: See how your site stacks up to the competition by comparing the site’s content and User Experience to up to four or five competitors identified by various stakeholders in your organization.  You can look at many of the same elements outlined above.

4. SEO Audit: Does your website conforms to best practices for high search engine visibility?  Work independently or hire an agency or consultant to

  • Ensure all on-page elements (meta data, etc.) that can affect SEO are in place
  • Identify any crawl errors
  • Identify opportunities to promote optimal site crawl

You can verify your review against Flightpath’s SEO checklist which can be found here: https://www.flightpath.com/resources/seo-audit-checklist/

5. Analytics Validation: Most site use Google Analytics or a similar platform to track website activity.  Work independently or hire an agency or consultant to identify what should be tracked at the website and validate whether or not it’s being done effectively.

Depending upon where you net out on these five important site aspects, it may or may not be time to initiate a website overhaul. Good luck!!

How to Create a Measurement Plan for a Digital Media Campaign

At Flightpath, an ever-growing percentage of our work involves deployment of business-building paid media campaigns.  While all campaigns are different, we’re typically using some combination of display, programmatic, paid social media advertising and paid search (SEM).   The one constant is the creation of a smart measurement plan that helps us understand the effectiveness of our campaign.

When we set about to create a measurement plan, we start by identifying our campaign audience – who are we trying to reach and why?  Then, we map out the following:

Objectives

  • Identify the business objectives
  • Why does your campaign (or website) exist?
  • Think of acquisition, behavior and outcomes

Goals

  • Identify goals for each objective
  • Requires critical thinking from management, marketers and analysts
  • Specific strategies we’ll leverage to accomplish the business objectives
  • Conversion goals are always of utmost importance and can range from an ecommerce transaction to a video view

KPIs

  • Identify the KPIs
  • Those metrics that help us understand how we’re doing against our objectives

Measurable Metrics

  • The specific metrics that will be monitored through the tools we utilize.

Targets

  • Targets are numerical values you’ve pre-determined as indicators of success or failure.
  • An absolutely critical step.

Segments

  • Identify valuable segments for analysis.
  • A group of people, their sources, onsite behavior, and outcomes.
Example Measurement Plan
Example Measurement Plan

Once all of these items have been identified and all the pieces are put in place, we kick things off. Every campaign requires a test and learn phase before we can ramp up spend and maximize conversions.  It’s important that expectations are clearly shared between client and agency.

Reporting is typically delivered on a monthly basis along with quarterly and annual reviews, though in many cases, such as acquisition campaigns, weekly reports are necessary – but the measurement plan remains our north star throughout.

 

How to Evaluate Different Aspects of a Brand’s Digital Eco-System

Evaluate digital eco-system diagram

With the proliferation of digital platforms and channels, it’s getting harder and harder for many brands to determine where to invest their digital marketing efforts and dollars. We recently blogged about guidelines for social media platform selection. Examining and evaluating the broader digital eco-system is a similar type of exercise. It begins with a clear understanding of your target audience and business goals. Then, you should ask questions like:

  • Where can you achieve the greatest strategic value?
  • What does the competitive landscape look like?
  • How are things trending?
  • How can you achieve the greatest ROI for your spend?

Insights gleaned should be validated by analysis of data sources including:

  • Website analytics
  • Search engine research
  • Social media conversations

At Flightpath, we find that a multi-channel approach delivers a multiplying effect that maximizes campaign effectiveness (1+1+1=6).

In order to ensure that tactics are working in harmony on an on-going basis, we recommend undertaking a quarterly eco-system review. This checkpoint will help to keep you on track to meet your goals. You can take a look at things like:

  • Recent Work
  • Highlights of results
  • New and pending initiatives
  • Areas of opportunity
  • Budget/burn rate

Taking this moment to review, measure and re-align on a quarterly basis can help ensure that your digital marketing efforts remain on track in an environment where things are always changing and evolving.

Guidelines for Defining Digital Marketing Strategies for the Digital Economy

Guidelines-Defining-Digital-Marketing

I recently received an email solicitation to enroll in the Digital Marketing Strategies for the Digital Economy program at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. The program’s marketing materials promise “to explore the latest emerging online marketing and social media technologies.”

Along with their pitch was a link to a video featuring Professor David A. Bell expounding on a number of topics that would presumably be covered in the course. I thought the professor did an excellent job articulating key points, so I thought I’d share them here…

Key Factors When Creating a Digital Strategy

  • Understanding the customer/consumer journey and how it’s changing
  • Changing business models
  • What is the right mix and array of tools that one should deploy to reach these customers and get them to buy our products and services

“We really need to come back to the fundamental which is ‘what is the process that the customer goes through?’” If you can develop customer insights, you’re likely to find success.

Challenges of Online & Offline Distribution

  • Creating cohesive online/offline experience is one of the greatest challenges in the digital economy.
  • Customers don’t care if they’re interacting with companies online or offline. The experience must be seamless.

Three Common Digital Marketing Mistakes

  • Forgetting the fundamentals of customers and markets
  • Being overwhelmed by tools without letting the tool be the outcome
  • Having a very narrow view of what it means for attribution

Your Audience Has a Voice

  • Creating the right kind of voice is absolutely critical
  • If you’re doing something bad or inauthentic it will immediately be known
  • What’s said about you by yourself, your customers or adversaries becomes a critical part of the conversation

Content Marketing Strategies

  • Creating an effective content marketing strategy is absolutely critical in the digital economy
  • Content has 2 prongs:

    1. The first is the content you deliver. It must have functional, emotional and symbolic value while also being authentic, personalized and transparent

    2. The second is content created when you activate engaged customers to create material which then drives the next generation of content

The authentic voice coming from the firm + content extracted from the voice of the customer is the marriage you should be looking for.

You can learn more about the Wharton course and see the video with
Professor Bell here:
https://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/for-individuals/all-programs/digital-marketing-strategies-for-the-digital-economy

The Value of a Comprehensive SEO Audit

The Value of a Comprehensive SEO Audit

At Flightpath, we create, redesign, refine and maintain dozens of websites every year. A core consideration that impacts all aspects of this work is ensuring that sites adhere to best practices for high search engine visibility (also known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO).

Throughout our planning, design, production, quality assurance and launch processes, SEO stays top of mind. When we’re getting ready for a release, we run everything through a checklist that assesses sites based on approximately 100 different criteria that all enter into the algorithms that reward (or penalize) sites.

Oftentimes we’re called upon to conduct a comprehensive SEO Site Audit. This may be for a site that’s been created by another agency or other 3rd party. Or it could be a site that’s had a lot of post-launch enhancement and is ready for a check up. Or it could be for an older site that may not have kept up with algorithmic changes over time. Either way, we return to our checklist and begin assessing the site based upon our all-important 100 criteria.

At a high level, here are some of the most important SEO optimization attributes that we’re assessing:

  • UX: including mobile friendliness page speed
  • Tags: including titles, meta descriptions
  • Page Duplication and duplicate content
  • URLs: including length, keyword usage and word separators
  • Links: including click-depth, navigation and link location
  • Page Architecture: including keyword location and content structure
  • Site Architecture: including languages, 301 permanent redirects and sitemaps
  • Social Media: including Facebook, Twitter and Google+ sharing
  • Site Verification: including Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools set-up

While some of these attributes are more important than others, they should all be attended to and revisited and checked up on regularly.

New Report on US Hispanics and Digital Usage

It was with fascination that I consumed the new report from eMarketer: US Hispanics and Digital Usage: How They Differ from Non-Hispanics—and from One Another.  According to eMarketer the “report examines US Hispanics’ digital usage, comparing it with that of the general population while giving special attention to variations among different Hispanic population segments.”  As Goya Foods is a key Flightpath client, this is an important set of research for us to activate upon.

Some of our key takeaways include:

  • Smartphones: An above-average proportion of Hispanics have mobile-only internet access.
  • Coupons: Hispanics making less use of the internet as a shopping tool than non-Hispanics do. Smartphones come into play when Hispanics seek bargains. Coupon usage (including digital coupons) is strong among Hispanics.
  • Social Media: Social media penetration is slightly above average among Hispanics, though Facebook penetration is a bit below average

chart_sm

  • YouTube: The availability of content tailored to specific audiences is clearly part of YouTube’s appeal for Hispanics.

The Digital Path to Philanthropy

How tech has changed philanthropy

General Assembly’s Digital Philanthropy panel. Our team at Flightpath is proud to be involved with a number of nonprofit organizations in helping increase their digital footprint and improving their communication initiatives, so we were eager to learn more about the ways technology has changed the concept of giving. The panel featured Mike Seiler, Jen Bokoff, Ariel Azoff, and Greg Levin, and was moderated by Julie Levy, philanthropist and founder of Why We Give. The emergence of social media and other technological advances has had a huge impact on philanthropy. It’s been a positive change in most cases — increasing awareness and a building a sense of community — but how far does a ‘like’ or ‘share’ really go in helping these nonprofits?

How technology is changing philanthropy for the better

  There are many new platforms that help nonprofits reach new supporters and mobilize existing supporters, but the biggest topic of conversation in the panel is also perhaps the most impactful medium: social media. Social media has given nonprofit organizations the ability to reach targeted audiences through advertising and promoted posts. Targeting capabilities have given organizations the ability to engage a younger audience, and has connected future philanthropists with a cause they’re passionate about. The rise of social media has also given organizations the power to quickly and effectively disseminate information. When a message is sent through social media, it has the power to bring people together to then mobilize them to take action. Technology has also reduced the role of intermediaries in philanthropy so supporters can donate directly to people and projects. People are often skeptical about where their money is going when donating to an organization. Removing intermediaries often gives philanthropists the opportunity to see exactly where their money is being used within a particular organization. Social amplification means that with the right content, nonprofits can get a lot of exposure. It also puts the power in the user’s hands. These days, anyone can be a philanthropist or an activist, which is great for empowering people and getting them to care about a cause. But is this amplification always reflected in a nonprofit’s success?

The role of ‘slacktivists’ in philanthropy

  Slacktivism consists of people who take action online by ‘liking’ a post or signing a petition, but don’t go very far beyond that digital action. Slacktivists are interested and perhaps involved on a surface level, but they aren’t known to do anything that requires more than the dragging and clicking of a mouse. As mentioned before, this social engagement guarantees exposure, which often leads to an increased volume of donations. The ALS ice bucket challenge is a perfect example of this. Close to 17 million people participated in the ice bucket challenge, and the social actions were reflected in the $220 million the ALS Foundation raised from the challenge. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. People are often overwhelmed with so many calls to action on social media that they aren’t sure where to focus their energy. This leads to a form of paralysis and the idea that ‘someone else will do it’. But many people find that social interaction is often a bridge to more action. A person is probably more likely to take real action after they’ve shared something. It makes sense — if you care enough about a cause to tell your friends and family about it, you probably care enough to make a donation. So it seems that slacktivism is the precursor to activism. As marketers, we’re all too familiar with this idea. The slacktivists are top-of-funnel customers who might engage but only in a passive way. But that ‘like’ isn’t meaningless. It’s the first step in to the sales cycle, or in this case, the path to giving. What can nonprofit organizations do to turn slacktivists into activists, and use technology to their advantage?
  • Tell stories. The demand for authentic stories is high these days, and a story that creates empathy and connection can be powerful.
  • Filter calls to action so people can make smart decisions.
  • Provide next steps. It’s easy to write a check, but what’s next? Sites like Catchafire match professionals with nonprofits that can benefit from their skill set. This allows people to help in a direct way beyond making a donation.
We left the Digital Philanthropy panel inspired by the panelists and moderator to seek out ways to create philanthropists out of everyone using the technology we have available to us. We look forward to the challenge of turning slacktivists into activists using the emotional power of storytelling to make an impact. Thanks to General Assembly for an enlightening evening.
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The New Flightpath.com is Live

As a digital agency that seems to always be working to capacity, it was somewhat of a struggle to get this all new Flightpath site launched (it’s the old story of the shoemaker’s children with holes in their shoes). But while we still shake out a few small lingering issues, I wanted to take a minute to note and appreciate the achievement.

We started with a competitive analysis – reviewing the best sites from the best digital agencies all over the world. Then, we thought long and hard about the story we wanted to express at Flightpath.com. Who are we as an agency? What are our core areas of expertise? What work did we want to share with visitors? How could we attract the best candidates for jobs here?

The SEO analysis, copywriting, design, video production, coding and QA stretched out over a considerable period of time but we always kept our eye on the ball. Contributions came from all over the agency. We’re super-proud of the end results and are already seeing our search rankings rise in Google as we bring our ‘soft-launch’ period to a close.

Of course, we realize that the launch of a new website is only the start of a storytelling arc and we’re already thinking of ways to change, enhance, improve and grow the site. Meanwhile, I’d like to express many thanks to our awesome clients who are a big part of the Flightpath story and kudos and congrats to the pros on our team on a job very well done.

Notes From the Post-it Wars

It was great that Flightpath was included in New York Magazine‘s recent ‘Reasons to Love New York’ special edition. As a digital agency based in NYC, we love New York too and were pleased to be part of their roundup.

The reason? We were included in a piece about a Post-It Art ‘War’ between our agency and some of our neighbors on 25th Street. (See scanned clip below — this wasn’t published online). For better or worse, New York reported that our neighbors ‘won the war’ and they’re probably right. Those guys did a great job and showed a tremendous amount of creativity. But I’m really pleased with the way our folks participated. We basically started the whole thing, showed a ton of creativity and resourcefulness, and kept battling as the months went on. — These are all attributes that I consider part of our agency’s DNA. We’ll see how this progresses in the months to come.

Continue reading “Notes From the Post-it Wars”

The Ever-Evolving Sophistication of eMail Marketing – Square Breaks New Ground

I often tell the story about the first client assignment I got when I first founded Flightpath back in 1994 – managing the nascent email (listserv?) list for Bon Jovi on behalf of Mercury Records.

Email marketing has certainly evolved since then but it took a very interesting new leap last week with the introduction of a new email marketing platform called Square Marketing. Yes. Square Marketing comes from the company that to date has been known as an innovator in the credit card payment space.
Continue reading “The Ever-Evolving Sophistication of eMail Marketing – Square Breaks New Ground”

Creativity, Collaboration and Consequence

My 10-year old daughter is a fifth grader in New York City.  I often reflect upon the fact that a lot of her school’s educational philosophy seems well-tailored toward molding/shaping people with the same kind of skills and attributes that we look for in new hires at Flightpath.

With that in mind, it was with great interest, that I read an e-mail from her middle school principal, discussing his recent experience in Boston where he attended the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) annual conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “Design the Revolution: Blending Learning, Leading, and Innovation.”

The conference website explains that “Independent education plays a leading role in the revolution changing the way the world thinks. The myriad ways we can learn and innovate knows no bounds thanks to new patterns of innovation, an emphasis on instructional systems, and increasing interaction with new people and ideas around the globe. This freedom comes with a responsibility to design a plan for success that includes thinking creatively, problem-solving differently, defining 21st century learning, and leading students into a future we’ve only glimpsed.”

These are the same issues we ponder on a daily basis at Flightpath.  How do we alter and improve patterns of interaction? What new tools can we leverage to better communicate among teams and groups housed within and without our physical headquarters? How do we grasp new trends and opportunities? How do we infuse creativity and innovation into every thing that we do? How do we measure, assess, and improve outcomes?

If a mantra of NAIS is that “ongoing learning keeps NAIS schools strong and innovative” that also rings true for the team at Flightpath.  – To that end, apart from other avenues, we’ve got Flightpathers attending a slew of conferences over the next few months including SXSW, ClickZ Live NY, UWestFest, and An Event Apart.  As part of my own professional development, I’m going to start keeping an eye on the NAIS website and try read their blog regularly. If early indications mean anything, it’ll be instructive to glean learnings, ideas and parallels from this forward-thinking group.