Facebook agrees: Quality > Quantity

It’s as if Facebook listened to a focus group of marketers complaining about ad targeting: “It’s getting brutal….social makes it harder, not easier….my dollars are already stretched too thin….how can I be sure I’m reaching the right people….and how do I know I’m spending in the right places?”

And then, Facebook looked deeply into its immeasurable well of data and said, “Welcome to lookalike audiences.”

What it is

A lookalike audience is a custom-made audience based on the characteristics of your current customer list, website visitorship, or Facebook fan base. The idea is that Facebook goes further than general demographics and interests, and looks at data to find deeper similarities within your audiences. You are then able to target new customers that fit into a precise profile.

3 data sets

When Facebook creates a lookalike audience it gathers data from 3 sources.

1) Your Facebook page fans: Facebook takes the individuals that already like your page and looks for similarities among them.

2) Your current customer list: By using Facebook Custom Audiences, you can upload a csv file or copy and paste your existing customer data and Facebook will find people who resemble that audience.

3) Your website visitors: Install a Facebook pixel on your site. Then you can create an audience based on people who’ve visited specific pages on your website.

Does it work?

Studies show that lookalike audiences can generate at least twice the number of customer conversions than standard targeting techniques, simple because the people you’re targeting share characteristics with users who have already interacted with your brand in some way.

This technique can be even more effective than retargeting. Why? Because rather than simply delivering ads to people who already know your brand, lookalike targeting builds a new customer base; essentially a clean sheet of paper that can be filled with new individuals, perceptions, and new selling opportunities.

Let’s talk dollars

Where budget is concerned, using a lookalike audience is very cost effective. This is because lookalike targeting does not increase the cost of delivering your ads. It just increases the likelihood of the ad content making an impact.

Think of it this way: Instead of delivering your ads to 50,000 people who may or may not be interested in your brand/product, you’re delivering your ad to 15,000 people who share similarities with your current audience and are very likely to be interested. This results in higher ROI.

Stay attuned

There are other advertising platforms that provide similar tools. For example, Google has targeting methods such as Custom Affinity Audiences and Customer Match that allow similar targeting based on your current customer data. It will be interesting to see how Google and other competitors respond to the advent of lookalike audiences.

But for now, Facebook lookalike targeting is one of the most valuable tools available. And it may signal the long-overdue shift in advertisers’ understanding that quality beats quantity.

Join us for a beverage to keep the conversation going.

Progressive web apps now being served

Progressive Web Apps

When Google says something is the next big thing, we tend to listen.

And Progressive Web Apps (or PWAs) are, in a word, it.

If you missed this news and were absent the day they had the PWA meeting at work, here’s what you should know.

The nutshell version.

PWAs can be summed up as a web page that can be hot-linked to the homescreen of the user’s phone, creating an app-like experience. Some recent technology enhancements and the increased power of newer smartphones and devices make it possible.

In slightly more technical terms, think of a PWA as a hybrid utility – a mix between a website and a native application on a mobile device.

Thirsty for an example? Here’s an example of a simple PWA that allows users to learn more about beer. Cheers.

Top 10 reasons they’re a good thing

Google (and us for that matter) like PWAs for these reasons.

  1. PWAs are fast to load
  2. They feel like an app
  3. They don’t require an app store to install
  4. They build search engine visibility
  5. They’re responsive
  6. They work with all browsers
  7. PWAs are linkable and not be hard to install
  8. They’re enhanced to work offline or on low-quality networks
  9. They stay fresh because of a background update function
  10. PWAs are safe and served via HTTPS

If you need a laundry list of PWA attributes, look at this detailed look at what Google says are the key elements of a good PWA.

How PWAs keep users engaged.

Studies have shown that in a consumer mobile app, you lose around 20% of the user base for every step a user has to perform before getting to valuable content or experiences.

It’s called the “funnel effect.” And it has huge implications. For example, what if the user has to do any of the following?

  1. Go to the app store
  2. Download the app
  3. Open App
  4. Sign up for the app
  5. Create something
  6. Post/Send to friends
  7. Overcome any other typical experiential roadblock

If each of these steps causes a 20% drop in users, the attrition rate is ridiculous. With PWAs, the first three steps are bypassed, allowing users to find value quicker and stay engaged longer.

Loading & Pushing.

People expect a site to load in 2.0 seconds or less, according to study. After 3.0 seconds, many are gone. Now think of a phone on 3G trying to load the heavy elements of a website. The words “clunky,” “glacial,” and “stultifying” come to mind. PWAs, by contrast, load quickly even in areas with poor connectivity.

Another great PWA feature is the ability to send Push Notifications to users who have added the PWA to their phone. Push notifications can increase CTR by up to 40%.

And now, for PWA drawbacks…

Since Google began leading the push for PWAs in 2015, development has been slow.

Cutting edge browser technologies are needed for a PWA to function correctly. Sure, the PWA most likely will still work on older devices and browsers, but the UX won’t be the same.

Apple is developing the required pieces for PWAs to function 100% correctly on iPhones and other iOS products. And because PWAs function similar to a normal website, a user on an iPhone can still reap the benefits of the PWA, even if they are unable to add it directly to their homepage.

Source links:

[1] https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2016/08/a-beginners-guide-to-progressive-web-apps/
[2] https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/getting-started/codelabs/your-first-pwapp/
[3] http://blog.gaborcselle.com/2012/10/every-step-costs-you-20-of-users.html
[4] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/speed-is-a-killer/
[5] http://andrewchen.co/new-data-on-push-notification-ctrs-shows-the-best-apps-perform-4x-better-than-the-worst-heres-why-guest-post/
[6] https://jakearchibald.github.io/isserviceworkerready/

Professional services firms: Brand your people

dcblog-brandedlikeacow

The longstanding argument in accounting, law, financial, medical, and other professional services firms is that the company’s brand has to transcend the identity of any one person.

 

Eponymous consumer brands like Gillette and Orville Redenbacher have invested big-time resources to emerge from the shadow of their originators, so professional services firms should do the same (right?) because the brand will ultimately earn more good will if it’s perceived as being greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Not so fast.

 

Why you should brand your best people

 

Yes, a central brand is important – and too many professional services firms ignore developing one. But we do not believe it’s necessary to abandon building the identity of everybody who lives under the logo.

 

Why should the people who make the brand breathe – in client and patient contact, new business development, and everyday conversation – take a back seat to the uber brand?

 

One response is, “If I invest in developing the visibility of key staff, whenever those people leave for another job, my investment has failed.”

 

Again, we disagree. We think developing professional identities and reputations for your best people is the best retention (and recruitment) strategy available. Who doesn’t want to work at a firm that honors accomplishment?

 

Getting rid of Either/Or thinking

 

So start by assuming that you can have both worlds: A strong, central brand identity with defined attributes – as well as individuals whose professional brand identities coexist with it in an interdependent way.

 

Big Picture

 

The first thing to do is get a sense of what the Big Picture brand looks like. There are plenty of experts in professional services branding (like us) that can help pinpoint the attributes, map the brand pillars, and build a strategy for it. But in our experience (and we’re not alone), this means selling the idea at the top. Without some top-down support to analyze what makes the firm tick, most branding efforts fizzle.

 

Small Picture: 3 ways to get started

 

Once an overarching brand strategy is established, you can develop individual identities beneath it. There are lots of ways to do this tactically. Here are a few:

 

  1. Blogs

Blogs play a big role in consumer decision making.

They also play a significant role in B2B purchase decisions. But good ones take time and planning. Start with an editorial calendar and see if you can brainstorm 12 topics, with a frequency of 2x per month for a 6-month footprint. Build some consensus around the content, the name, the approach. Identify potential authors to feature and byline. And remember that having a guest blogger or two can be useful.

 

  1. Video. Shoot a series of short segments featuring your internal stars. Keep each one to 60 seconds. Make it a quick, personal interview with the person focusing on one or two key professional insights. Again, keep it short, around the duration of an elevator ride. Bookend each segment with some animated graphics to lock the content into the parent brand. And because it’s important to say something 3 times, remember, less is more.

 

  1. Q&A. Create web pages with articles formatted as a Q&A, as you see in magazines like Interview and Rolling Stone. This makes it easy to read, scan, and get to know the interviewee as a person and as an expert.

 

There’s more, but every blog should know when to stop. For a conversation, contact us and we’ll buy you a cup of coffee.

Eyeflow: How do people scan your site?

dcblog-eyeflowIt takes 1/5 of a second for someone to form an impression of your site

 

In another 2.6 seconds, they will have located the content that interests them.

 

In that time span of 2.8 seconds the user has scanned the page, made some judgments, and is ready to move deeper into your site.

 

Or move on in search of a better site.

 

Our point: Every aspect of content placement on a home page or landing page has to be scrutinized because even the smallest decisions can affect performance.

 

So let’s take a look at exactly what’s happening in those 2.8 seconds and talk about a few of the essentials of eyeflow.

 

1. Scanning vs Reading

 

Scanning a page – as opposed to reading it – is how people seek content. Jakob Nielsen pointed out many years ago why we scan rather than read but the dominant reason is twofold: Time pressures, and the fact that reading a computer screen is tiring to the eyes.

 

When scanning, the eye generally makes short, rapid eye movements as it moves across a web page, seeking the touchstones and visual cues that signal the content environment is relevant and useful.

 

2. From Gutenberg’s “Z” to Nielsen’s “F”

 

Gutenberg’s diagram is the basis for how we are taught to enter a web page visually.

 

Our eye tends to move in a “Z” shaped pattern, starting in the upper left corner – because that’s how we read – and moving right, left, and right. [This explains why, in print advertising, the logo is often positioned lower right.]

 

But our exposure to the web – and especially to search pages – has reshaped our eyeflow into the form of an “F.”

 

As you’d expect from the shape of the “F,” – as opposed to a “Z” – the eye tends to look across the screen twice and then stop, rather than completing the scan in the lower right corner.

 

Nielsen pointed this out in 2006 – viewers often start in the upper left corner and go right. Then they come back and follow a second movement, also left to right. Then they return to the left side and scan vertically.

 

Side point: Viewer eyeflow can change based on needs. General browsing eye patterns are slower, and more random than information-seeking patterns, which tend to be quicker and centered on navigation. Search page eyeflow tends to have a “hot potato” effect. If you’re redesigning a site, usability testing can provide clarity around how your content is being scanned..

 

3. Type hierarchy matters. Big Time.

 

Viewers look for and read headlines as an instinctive process for locating the main message of a page.

 

Subheads tend to be scanned as viewers go deeper into subpages, looking for relevant content – so don’t write meaningless subheads. Make sure each subhead actually encapsulates the written content below it. This builds reader trust. And keep your fonts simple and consistent so readers begin to feel confident in the aesthetics and standards of the site.

 

4. White space

 

Clients tend to overfill web pages, forgetting that unoccupied space creates a sense of calmness, focus, and makes reading and visual digestion easier.

 

We advise clients to think of white space not just in terms of large areas, but also in terms of column spacing, leaving room around graphics, and even in terms of paragraph length. Short, one and two-sentence paragraphs surrounded by white space accelerate the read and make viewers feel they are getting somewhere.

 

The elements of commanding attention and directing viewers’ eyeballs to where they need to go is a big topic.

 

Too big, in fact, for a blog.

 

But if you want to get into it deeper, we suggest you stop by for a beverage.

4 NEW RULES FOR SEO

dcblog-panda

It All Comes Down to Content

You’ve heard it ad nauseam, but today, when it comes to being the highest ranked on a search engine result page, content really is king.

With Google’s new SEO algorithm introduced in Google Panda content is being scrutinized as never before.

Panda evaluates UX in its analysis of site content. So it’s not just the range of content your site features, it’s the quality. That means a lot of site managers need to rethink their content strategy.

The rules have changed. And now, SEO thinking has to change, too. Here’s a guide to 4 critical new rules of SEO as seen by the folks here at drinkcaffeine.

The “Best of the Best” Rule

To maintain basic competitive positioning in search hierarchy, your site content must be as good as the best results on any particular search page. If you can’t consistently maintain this standard against the keywords used to explore your category, the hard truth is you do not have the opportunity to rank.

Search is becoming a mature category. Lots of sites have good, unique content. But it’s not enough to get to the top. You should aim to be the absolute best and then some.

If you don’t think you have the content to fulfill the keywords that drive your site traffic and your industry, then go back to the drawing board and review what it will take to bring your content to the next level.

The Right Links

 In the new world of Panda, links matter. Panda will discern between links that are authoritative and ones that are not.

Google, again valuing the best user experience, favors sites that are organically linked to by users. In fact, if you’re not earning links organically, you may even be earning undesirable links that Google is penalizing you for by lowering your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ranking.

It’s an uphill battle to earn links with anything less than the best content, but there’s a reason why getting to the top of the hill is worthwhile. And users are already beginning to notice that top-ranked players on any given SERP have the goods.

Think mobile

User experience more than ever relies on mobile-friendly sites, pages that load instantly, and device rendering. Don’t forget this aspect of UX as you develop your site. Panda certainly hasn’t.

So how do you become the best?

The shifts in Google’s algorithm require us all to look in the mirror and examine content more critically than ever before. Here are some critical questions.

  • Do my pages answer specific questions or call outs that a user may be searching for? A user problem-solution model is a powerful way to earn user trust, and links.
  • What’s my site like from a UX perspective? Are pages loading quickly? Is the navigation really intuitive and based on what users want?
  • Where is my content being sourced from? Content that pulls from trusted, branded sources will be far superior to the content that has no anchor to solid data.
  • Am I communicating visually? As we mentioned, people want their information delivered quickly and efficiently. Tidbits of text information will seldom surpass the power of an infographic or graph.
  • What am I missing? What are the top SERP leaders missing that you can provide? This is how you’ll set yourself apart.

When it comes to building out your best content, we’re your search engine optimizers. Search drinkcaffeine for your best result.

 

 

An amicus brief on branding for law firms

dc-blog-lawfirm

You’re a partner at a law firm

You know the organization needs a stronger brand identity and a better marketing program to carry it forward. Relying strictly on referrals just isn’t cutting it.

But you have some problems. Nobody has time to focus on it because everyone’s taking care of clients. Maybe no one believes in it. And you don’t want to pay for an agency-led “branding process.”

The only thing tougher than getting attorneys to agree on anything is…well, actually, nothing is tougher than that. Not even getting cats to march in the Macy’s Day parade. But the individuality of lawyers doesn’t need to stand in the way of brand development for your firm.

If there are no objections, here’s a handful of 5 pointers

1. Don’t start with the logo. Evolving the firm’s logo may be long overdue, but it’s a patch, not a fix. Leave it alone until there’s consensus around the need for a clear brand, and what that identity really is. Then the logo will align.

2. Don’t get hung up on a slogan. Lawyers are very, very sensitive to language, and many will want to craft the firm’s message. We caution against it. There are some very strong law firm taglines out there but it’s important to know who you are before condensing it to marketing language. Insist on holding off on slogans until you know what attributes you want to represent.

3. Admit that every lawyer has his or her own “brand.” The widespread belief among lawyers is that clients hire an attorney, not a firm. So why build a brand around the entire practice? Answer: Because the well being of the whole is more important than the success of any single component – for recruitment, new business development, and industry reputation. To get over this hurdle, convince stakeholders that it’s possible to satisfy both objectives at once. Which brings us to…

4. Focus on content. In our experience, lawyers loathe fluff when it comes to marketing. So consider the following:

Start a blog. The content can be authored by different attorneys to showcase their expertise.

– Try a webinar. Build a presentation on trends, opinions, and fact-based legal experience. Record it and repurpose it as seminar content for businesses and B2B gatherings.

Do Q&A profiles with individual attorneys. A quick and easy way to create good content is to conduct interviews with attorneys and position the content on the firm’s website. This way, visitors can “hear” the attorney speak and get to know their style of communication and their way of thinking.

5. Think digital. A consumer survey done by FindLaw found that web-based searches for lawyers now outpace referrals from friends and colleagues, having increased from 7% to nearly 40% in the last 9 years. This is a recent development. A 2012 study still had direct referrals as the #1 way people searched for a lawyer or a law firm So consider:

Cultivate honest reviews from clients and request that they post them to primary lawyer review-and-rating sites such as avvo and martindale

Place geo-targeted banners on carefully selected websites rather than printing brochures and running ads in local papers.

Use LinkedIn. It’s a low-cost way of reaching people and without it you’ll seem small and irrelevant. So update your page and get clued in to best practices for law firms on LinkedIn.

In closing

Most law firms struggle with branding because they’re busy with clients (we get it), or there’s no one in charge of it, or there’s no decision-making tree. But you have to start somewhere. So contact us for a case study we think is a strong model for legal brand development.