website strategy

Planning a Website? Consider Growth-Driven Design

A business without a website is practically unheard of in this day and age. Not having a website severely limits your ability to market your brand. However, designing and building a website can be more difficult than you might think. The traditional way of building a website requires that you figure out exactly what you want your website to have and then launching the completed version. The problem with this method is that you’ll end up having to redesign it after a few years. This is especially true if it turns out that your website isn’t very user-friendly or needs additional features. It’s one of the main reasons that many companies are opting to use Growth-Driven Design instead.

What Is Growth-Driven Design?

Growth-Driven Design (GDD) is a website design methodology that uses an incremental approach. Instead of designing and developing a website and launching it after completion, GDD allows you to launch an incomplete site. The idea is to launch a site with basic functionality and to add to it over time. With GDD, you can continuously test the usability of your site and collect feedback. You can use this data to make changes or add features to your website over time. GDD consists of two phases:

Phase One

During phase one, you need to determine what your users want and need. With that in mind, plan a wishlist of features and functionalities you want for your website. Once a wishlist has been created, you’ll need to prioritize the list by features that will have an immediate impact. You will develop and launch your website to have those core features. Although not complete, your site should have the basic functionality to make it useable.

Phase Two

During phase two, you will analyze the performance of your website. Take into account things like user experience and goal achievement. You will then improve your website using what you’ve learned during specific increments throughout the future (such as every month or every two months). This allows you to continue to build your website even while it’s live.

See how Stevens & Tate implemented a Growth-Driven Design Strategy to help a client: DSI Spaceframes Case Study

The Benefits Of Implementing A Growth-Driven Design

At first glance, it might make more sense to wait until you completely finish the website to launch it. However, there are actually a number of advantages to using GDD instead. The following are some of the main benefits of implementing GDD:

  • Launch your site quickly

    Because the launchpad site only needs to have 20 percent of your wishlist’s features implemented, you’ll be able to launch it much faster. The quicker your site is up and running, the better (as long as it’s functional, of course).

  • Continuously improve your website

    With a traditional website design, what you see is what you get. Once it’s been launched, you’re done. You won’t be able to improve it unless you decide to do a major redesign or update. With

    GDD, you have the opportunity to improve your website continually based on the data you collect.

  • Minimize your risk

    You won’t spend as much money upfront with GDD since you’re launching an incomplete version. With a traditional website design, you’re taking a bigger risk because you’re using your entire design budget in one go. Your website could end up being a failure upon its launch, resulting in the loss of a significant amount of money. By building your website in increments, you’re taking less of a financial risk — especially since your budget can be spread across a longer period of time.

  • Avoid massive redesign projects

    With a traditional website design, you’re going to have to invest in a significant update or website redesign at some point in the future. This will be an expensive undertaking and it will be a necessary one. That’s just the nature of technology. With GDD, this will never be required since you’re constantly updating and improving your site.

  • Gain valuable insight into users

    GDD allows you to use what you learn about your users to continuously improve your site. At the same time, you’ll be gaining valuable insight into users that can be used in your marketing and sales strategies.

  • Evolve your site with your business

    Your business may change over time. With GDD, your website will be able to evolve naturally to keep up with all the changes your business experiences.

You simply can’t go without a company website, no matter how small your business might be. When planning your website design, consider implementing a Growth-Driven Design. Doing so will provide your company with a number of advantages over a more traditional design methodology. With a Growth-Driven Design, you’ll be able to adapt more successfully to the needs of your users, as well as your business.

Website Redesign Checklist
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brand development

Why Brand Development Matters and How it Works

Branding is more than just creating a logo and slapping it on a website or the side of a van. Developing your brand takes time, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results. Your brand makes you recognizable to consumers and without having it clearly established, your company becomes lost in the crowd. You want to impress your prospects and brand development does a lot of the work for you. Get ready to put your other projects aside, because right now, developing your brand matters most.

Developing your strategy

Brand development is a multi-stage process with the ultimate goal of building brand equity in a consumer’s mind. Brand equity is an intangible set of assets that cannot be tracked on a balance sheet. But, the value of that equity is the most valuable asset a company can own. Think about Kraft, Amazon, Apple, Steve Carell or Servpro. What emotional ties do you have with these brands?

Developing a brand must be part of the larger marketing plan for the company. It is often the biggest challenge, but the most critical. You don’t have to invest millions to develop your brand, but making the effort will pay off.

You first need an understanding of the clients you want to reach. Don’t assume you already know them, and instead take the time to do some research. You want to figure out your brand’s buyer persona. This includes your audience’s demographic and even their psychographics, such as their goals and motivations. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they want to see from you. From there, you can be sure you’re focusing your brand on the correct target audience.

Defining your brand

Next, focus on your brand definition. This definition can be in the form of a story or statement that clearly reflects what your brand is all about. Your marketing team will help you define what you are offering, how your target audience will benefit from it, what guarantees your offer, and what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. Remember to ask the question, what can this brand do or stand for that no other brand can say?

Think of what valuable services your company provides to customers that make their lives better. In order to compete with other brands, you need to have key differentiators that set you apart. Make a list of all you have to offer and then determine which unique offer stands out the most. This can be your lead differentiator you use in your branding when trying to appeal to your target audience.

Logo and Slogan

For your next step, you want to design a logo. Your logo should help convey your message to the audience you want to reach. Also, keep in mind that your logo is like the face of your brand, because it’s often the first thing people recognize. For example, if you think about Starbucks, McDonald’s or Louis Vuitton, their logo probably immediately comes to mind.

Now, you need to consider creating a slogan. This is part of letting your customers know what your company is about. Your slogan needs to be concise and relevant to your business. If you have trouble coming up with one on your own, consider using a slogan generator. You might also include your slogan in your logo, or create another version of your logo with the slogan in it that you can use, when suitable, to further establish your brand.

You know your buyer persona, you have your logo and slogan, now examine your company goals. How do you want consumers to see you? You need to make your brand strategy align with your goals and ideals in order to be consistent with your business. This step is important, because if you do not get it right, the rest of your brand strategy will fail. Take time to evaluate different possibilities and narrow it down to the one you think works best for you. This doesn’t have to be a one person job. Put together a team or get in contact with a marketing company for a fresh perspective.

Still unsure? Check out: The Brand Development Process Demystified 

Growing your brand

You’ve established your brand, but you’re not done yet. Now you need to help it grow. Put your brand out there for everyone to see. Incorporate it into your social media, SEO, ads and more. Specifically, focus on your website. Potential customers come to your website for a number of needs, so you want it to reflect your brand in the best way possible. Your new brand can also help you stand out at trade shows. The more public appearances your brand has, the more recognizable it will become. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of work it takes to grow the brand. It will be worth it when you start seeing the results of your carefully curated strategy.

Have patience while you wait for the results of establishing your brand. This is not an overnight process. So, take a look at your website and business analytics and continue to monitor them on a weekly or monthly basis. If your brand is a success, analytics will be able to show you how its helped your company flourish with growing numbers in connections and clients.

Going forward, continue to monitor your brand, conduct research into more growth opportunities and update as the market changes. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste by letting your brand fall behind. Better yet, invest in receiving help from a marketing company. Often, they know the best techniques and practices for your brand development. With them, you can be sure your brand has the best chance to excel in your industry.

buyer persona guide for business
A marketer's guide to advanced automation

A Marketer’s Guide to Advanced Automation

Using marketing automation solutions can greatly improve your marketing capabilities. Automation saves time on repetitive, mundane tasks, giving you more time to focus on more pressing matters. Additionally, automation helps improve the customer experience by making client data better organized and easier to access. However, using basic automation will no longer provide you with a huge advantage over your competition. Few companies exist that do not employ some kind of automation solution. If you want a real advantage, you need to begin using more advanced automation tools. The following are some of the advanced automation tactics that you should think about adopting:

1. Advanced Email Segmentation

Basic email segmentation, which involves sectioning your email list based on things like gender or information pertinent to your products and services, is quite common. However, the use of advanced email segmentation personalizes your marketing even more. Advanced email segmentation allows you to segment your email list even further based on things like content opened, location, engagement with your brand, the device used, their stage of the buyer’s journey, and more.

2. Date-Based Automation

advanced automation emailing

Many companies use action-based automation to deliver certain emails. For example, if a customer makes a purchase on your e-commerce page, you might automatically deliver a thank you email to their inbox. Many businesses use this basic form of action-based email automation. Another form of email automation worth using is date-based automation. Date-based automation tools allow you to automatically send off certain emails to certain recipients on specified dates. For example, if your opt-in form asks for a birthdate, use date-based automation to automatically send an email wishing a happy birthday to your leads and customers when their birthday comes around.

3. Lead Scoring

Lead scoring hasn’t quite caught on with the average marketer because it can take some time to set up. However, lead scoring helps make it easier to identify the quality of your leads. This, in turn, prevents your marketing and sales team from engaging with uninterested leads. It also helps prevent your marketing and sales teams from missing out on leads that were ready to convert. The way lead scoring works is simple. For every action a lead takes, or for every piece of information they provide, they are automatically assigned points. These actions or bits of information can be worth different values. For example, downloading an eBook might be worth more than liking a blog post on social media. Certain actions or information can be worth negative points as well.

You’ll have to decide at what point the total of their score determines that they are an MQL (marketing qualified lead) or a SQL (sales qualified lead). As you can imagine, having scores on all your leads can be incredibly helpful; however, your marketing and sales teams will have to work together to come up with a scoring system.

Learn more about how marketing automation can benefit you: How Marketing Automation Can Improve Your Lead Nurturing Process

4. Personalized Offers

Using an advanced automation eCommerce recommendation tool, you can automatically create dynamic emails that suggest relevant products to customers based on their past behavior. Some of these behaviors may include what they purchase, how much they spend, and how often they make purchases. The email is only generated after assessing the customer and it can go a long way towards increasing sales.

5. Chatbots

People often have basic questions when exploring a new website. A chat feature allows them to ask these questions without having to call or email you. Unfortunately, you may not have the resources to personally engage with visitors on your website 24/7 via the chat feature. That’s why you should consider implementing chatbots. Chatbots can be programmed to answer the most common questions automatically so that you don’t need a human to engage directly with every visitor. Even social channels such as Facebook are beginning to implement automated chat features.

Automation doesn’t just help make time-consuming tasks less time-consuming to do. It organizes valuable data, making it easier for you to improve your ability to engage with customers. Automation can even help improve the customer experience directly. Any business that’s looking to grow should go beyond the basics of automation and implement these advanced automation tactics into their marketing strategy.

25 Website Must Haves
types of digital marketing strategies

Types of Digital Marketing Strategies Your Business Should Use

If you have a website for your business, then there’s a good chance you’re familiar with SEO (search engine optimization). You know how the use of keywords can help increase your site’s exposure on search engines. However, when it comes to digital marketing, SEO is not the only valid strategy. In fact, there are many types of digital marketing tactics that you should consider employing in order to boost awareness of your brand and bring in more web traffic. The following are a few examples of different types of digital marketing to consider implementing into your marketing strategy:

Social Media Marketing

By creating a social media marketing strategy, you have the opportunity of reaching more people to expand your audience. Of course, you will need to do more than just set up some social media pages. First, you need to figure out where your target audience can be found. Different people use different social media channels, after all. For example, you’re probably not going to find an audience over the age of 60 on Snapchat. In addition to setting up a social page, you’ll need to post content, engage with relevant content posted by others, interact directly with users, and more. Social media is a great way to not only engage directly with your audience, but also to listen to what they have to say.

PPC Advertising

If you’re a smaller business owner with limited resources, the idea of PPC advertising may not appeal to you at first glance. After all, it stands for “pay per click.” While creating a website doesn’t cost much–and neither does running a social media page or posting content to a blog–eventually, you’re going to need to invest money into those strategies in order to expand your company’s reach. However, PPC advertising is something you have to put money into right away. Yet it’s something you should strongly consider doing because of how cost-effective PPC advertising is.

The way PPC ads work is you create an ad based around a keyword. You then bid on that keyword. Depending on your bid, your ad may show up on the results of someone who performed a search using your keyword. What makes these PPC ads so effective is that even though they show up and the user sees them, you don’t have to pay for them unless they click on the ad — and the amount you pay is the amount you bid. You’re basically only paying for results. You can run PPC ads on most search engines, although Google Adwords is the most popular. Social channels, such as Facebook, also offer PPC advertising.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the oldest types of digital marketing. It’s still around because of how effective it is. It has also evolved significantly over the years. Email marketing is a great way to build relationships with your leads and nurture them through the sales funnel. The data you collect from your email marketing efforts can be incredibly insightful as well. For example, you can track email open rates, click-through-rates, and more to identify what kind of content your recipients care most about and what types of calls-to-action are working. Email marketing also helps you maintain the relationships you’ve built with existing customers, turning them into brand evangelists.

Content Marketing

Last, but not least, is content marketing. Without content, none of your other digital marketing strategies are even possible. Content is king, as they often say. You need to create content that is relevant to your audience and that is helpful — not overly promotional. Content helps inform your audience about their problems and needs as well as introduce them to potential solutions. Common types of content that can be posted on your blog, your website, your social pages, in your emails, and more, include articles, images, videos, infographics, eBooks, white papers, and much more.

These four strategies along with SEO make up the five main types of digital marketing strategies you can implement. However, these strategies are incredibly broad. Each strategy can include hundreds of different tactics, if not more. Not to mention that for each type of digital marketing strategy to be as effective as possible, they need to work together. For example, social media marketing depends heavily on content marketing, while content marketing depends heavily on SEO. If your current focus is on SEO, consider implementing these other types of digital marketing strategies as well.

Integrating Social Media & SEO Efforts For Enhanced Search Engine Results

ad fraud detection

Ad Fraud Detection: Should you be worried?

Although running digital ads has never been easier and more cost-effective, especially with the ability to target audiences and through real-time bidding platforms, there is one big drawback: ad fraud is on the rise. According to the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), ad fraud costs the U.S. marketing industry alone almost $8.2 billion a year. Unfortunately, because of real-time bidding, committing ad fraud has become easier. Advertisers end up paying for clicks and exposure on specific pages that aren’t actually happening. To reduce the risk of experiencing ad fraud, the following is a brief ad fraud detection fraud detection

Simple Ways that Small Businesses Can Use Data to Build Better Customer Relationships

Ad Fraud Detection Tips

When you purchase ad space, be sure to monitor your ads to make sure ad fraud isn’t taking place. The following are a few signs that you should look out for that typically indicate fraud:


  • Your ads aren’t performing – If your ads are having no impact whatsoever and you’ve put a lot of resources into your ad campaign, then it’s usually a sure sign of ad fraud. An ad with well-crafted content, thoroughly researched keywords, and a carefully targeted audience shouldn’t have zero conversions or sales. This is especially true if you compare it to display ad campaigns you’re running on other channels. If a display ad on Facebook is producing 50 conversions for every 500 clicks and your other ad has 500 clicks and no conversions, it’s a giant red flag.


  • On-site analytics aren’t comparing – If your ad has short session durations and high bounce rates compared to an ad you’re running on Facebook, it could potentially be ad fraud. People that click ads will typically spend some time on the page, even if they’re not filling out the form.


  • Your click-through-rates are too high – Having a high click-through-rate is great, but if your click-through-rates are too high, then you should be suspicious. Anything over one percent is a sign of fraud that you’ll want to look into. It’s even more likely to be fraud if that high click-through-rate is accompanied by poor performance, short session durations, and high bounce rates.


  • Your ads’ clickers have data center IP addresses – If the clicks that your ad is getting are coming from data center IP addresses, it’s a sure sign of fraud. It basically means that the clicks are being generated from a hosted server and not a residential or corporate computer. You won’t be able to tell if this is the case unless you check the IP addresses of your clicks. Advertisers should check IP addresses regularly.

How To Prevent Ad Fraud

Consider using an ad fraud detection company. Ad fraud detection companies can verify that the ad space you’re purchasing is legitimate. They often use algorithms to create blacklists as well, thereby helping you avoid known scammers. When looking for an ad fraud detection company, look for TAG certification.TAG (Trustworthy Accountability Group) is an industry-wide initiative to fight ad fraud. Companies that are TAG certified have gone through proprietary background checks and review processes and are considered legitimate.

As ad fraud continues to be a serious problem, it’s important that keep these ad fraud detection tips in mind. Even then, you should be very careful when purchasing or bidding on ad space. However, as long as you’re careful, don’t let ad fraud prevent you from bidding on digital ad space — it can be a very effective way to reach your audience, after all.

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first party cookies

Why You Should Be Using First-Party Cookies Instead Of Third-Party Cookies

In order to effectively target consumers online, advertisers use cookies, which provide them with data concerning their online behavior. A cookie is a snippet of data that saves information about a user’s browsing history. This means that these cookies can provide a lot of helpful information to the advertiser. The thing is, there are two types of cookies that you can use — third-party cookies and first-party cookies. While third-party cookies can be very helpful to your advertising needs, depending on them may be a mistake.

The Difference Between First-Party And Third-Party Cookies

Usually, when someone visits a website, both a first-party cookie and a third-party cookie are generated. First-party cookies will be created by the website that a person visits directly. A third-party cookie is created by a party outside of the website. For example, if you visit a website that has third-party advertisements on it, any third-party ads that are viewed as part of the website by the visitor will generate their own cookies. These are third-party cookies.

How Behavioral Marketing Can Increase Sales

The Benefits Of Using First-Party Cookies

You can obtain a lot of useful data from visitors who come to your website. The following are just some of the ways that first-party cookies can help you obtain valuable insight as well as help to improve the website experience of your visitors:

  • Remember visitor session activity. For example, their logins, game scores, or what they’ve added to their shopping cart. This helps to improve their experience the next time they visit.
  • Remember their privacy controls and settings.
  • Profile users, segment them, and optimize your site for them to improve how your website engages with each visitor.
  • Use visitor behavior on your site for analytics, attribution, and verification.
  • Map your visitors across multiple platforms.
  • Cap the frequency of your ads.
  • Improve your ability to target and retarget your leads.first party cookies

The Drawbacks Of Using Third-Party Cookies

If first-party cookies are so helpful, why not use third-party cookies as well? If you’re running ads on other websites, wouldn’t the information you can collect on users of that site be helpful for a variety of different reasons? While this is true — you can collect and act on insightful data through third-party cookies — users tend to view them as an invasion of their privacy. First-party cookies at least help to improve their website experience, which means that they won’t be frowned upon nearly as much. Additionally, even if you plan on using the data you collect responsibly, people can actually block third-party cookies using the following methods:

  • Surf the web using a private mode, such as incognito mode, on their browser, which essentially disables third-party cookies.
  • Browse the web on their Apple devices using the Safari browser, which will automatically block third-party cookies.
  • Change their browser’s cookie and tracking settings.
  • Use software that enables anonymous communication, such as Tor.
  • Install an ad blocker extension to their browser.

Using first-party cookies makes much more sense. Not only do you have greater control over the data being collected due to the fact that you have full ownership, but first-party cookies have a longer lifespan. Although they can be deleted, they are not blocked nearly as often as third-party cookies are. Last, but not least, first-party cookies are more user-friendly since they improve the website experience.

  25 Website Must Haves For Driving Traffic, Leads & Sales

Trending in Marketing October

What’s Trending in Marketing for October 2019

Staying current on what’s trending in marketing is an excellent way to reflect and verify whether your marketing efforts are harmonious with the growth happening in today’s ever-evolving marketplace. We’re aware that keeping up with these trends can often be difficult given the abundance of information thrown at us every day. The following articles come from popular marketing blogs. They highlight current marketing trends that we think are worth paying attention to:

Noteworthy Marketing News

YouTube masthead ads hit TV app

YouTube is now introducing masthead ads for its TV app. The ads will play automatically and appear prominently on the app for a customized audience, depending on who brands are trying to reach. With streaming platforms outshining regular TV programming, this new feature gives brands a way to connect with their audiences whenever they launch the YouTube TV app. Read more on Marketing Land.

Snapchat extends video ad limit to 3 minutes, but viewers can still skip

Although Snapchat has typically been used for 10-second videos, they’re now giving marketers the option to run video ads up to three minutes long. However, users will still be able to skip the ads. Allowing ads to run for the longer timeframe allows companies to find out which viewers are more likely to watch the full ad without skipping. Adage has the full story here. 

Female CMOs are being hired in record numbers, report says

In the first two quarters of 2019, 48% of CMO appointments went to women, according to a report from Russell Reynolds. The previous record breaking number was 47% in 2016. However, with a high turnover rate for marketing leadership, these numbers are likely to fluctuate. In the first half of the year, 81% of CMOs were hired externally as outside sources would be more likely to have a broader focus in marketing. Find out more on Marketing Dive.

Improving Your Marketing Program

The Benefits of Inbound & Outbound Marketing 

There are two main types of marketing, inbound and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a strategy in which you position yourself to be found by your target audience. This provides them with the content they need to inform themselves and to move through the first stages of the sales funnel on their own (SEO and content marketing are both examples of inbound). Outbound marketing is more traditional. It refers to the strategy in which you advertise directly to a broad audience instead of waiting to be found by them (TV commercials, radio ads, and magazine ads are all examples of outbound marketing).

Many businesses tend to prefer one over the other. But, the most effective way to market to your target audience is to use a combination of both. To understand why using both is a valuable investment to your business, you’ll need to understand both types.

The Difference Between Landing Page vs. Homepage

Once upon a time, when the web was still in its infancy, the homepage was considered the most important page on your website. While the homepage is an essential component of your website, it shouldn’t necessarily be the first page that visitors see. The webpage functions more as a way to draw visitors into themarketing funnel than anything else. Unfortunately, many businesses focus heavily on sending new leads to their homepage, which can actually be a mistake. Doing so can confuse new visitors because they won’t know where to go from there. Instead, you should be sending new visitors to a landing page. The following is a breakdown of the main differences between landing page vs. homepage.

What is CPM Advertising and Should You Use It? 

There are many KPIs that you can track in order to judge the performance of your ads. One of these metrics is CPM, or cost per mille, which translates into cost per thousand impressions. CPM indicates how much you’re paying for every thousand impressions the ad is earning. However, there are other KPIs that you can use as well, such as CPC and CPA. These KPIs indicate how much you’re paying for your ads. When implementing a new ad campaign, you’ll have to choose which KPI to use, meaning you’ll have to bid in either CPM or CPC. The question is, when should you be using CPM advertising?

Recent Marketing Reports, Updates, and Trends

Study: Brand perceptions get bigger ding from social media than news

Verizon Media conducted a survey of over 2,000 Americans which showed consumers have a more positive view of brands that advertise on news sites rather than social media. 90% of consumers reported that coordinating with news content did not affect their brand impression. Meanwhile, 40% of consumers had a negative impression of brands that advertise near offensive content, such as user-generated social media posts. This is why brand safety is a serious matter for around 60% of marketers. More about the study can be found on Marketing Dive.

Noticeable drop in reviews showing in Google search results

Multiple Google search tracking tools report a drop in the number of search results displaying review rich results, due to a new Google algorithm. The drop is anywhere from 3 to 5 points, depending on which tracker you look at. This news matters for companies with pages that show review rich results. Thosecompanies should consider checking the new rules and updating their pages appropriately. If the review rich results no longer appear, it’s most likely due to the updated algorithm. Read more on Search Engine Land.

Facebook sees steep drop in loyalty as Twitter gains, survey finds

Facebook’s brand loyalty dropped from 8th place last year, to 24th place this year. Meanwhile, Twitter jumped from 23rd to 11th place. Digital brands also saw lower positions, while automotive, restaurant and retail categories saw a boost in loyalty. “Consumer loyalty is a key leading indicator of brand success, typically able to demonstrate results 12 to 18 months before traditional brand tracking of focus groups, according to the survey.” Facebook’s loyalty most likely dropped due to the occurrence of privacy breaches. Twitter has made significant changes for the benefit of users, which probably led to the higher ranking. Read the full article on MarketingDive.

25 Website Must Haves