Why It’s Important to Highlight CSR On Your Website

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

It’s an age-old question, with an answer that has long been unknown (kind of like the chicken and the egg – and really, what did come first?), but one thing we know for certain – differing opinions make for great conversation, and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to CSR.

At Blender, we’re believers that your website should act as your best employee; your spokesperson, your sales person, and above all, a reflection of who you are as a business. For businesses actively engaged in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) your website is the single best channel to extend the communication of your efforts.

So, if you’re actively engaged in CSR, but you’re not communicating your involvement, is it really happening?

It’s important to highlight CSR on your website. Here’s why.

It breaks you apart from your competition.

Every business should be performing some sort of regular competitor analysis, especially companies working in Investor Relations, and CSR is a great way to break apart from your competition.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are great examples of using CSR to differentiate themselves from competition. While both perform CSR in a similar way (these companies aim for sustainability in water usage), they’re taking hold of CSR communication on investor websites, knowing the impact it has on not only consumers, but investors alike.

CSR on your website 1

It increases sentiment of your business online.

Much like competitor reporting, most companies are also focused on sentiment about their business online. Positive sentiment can lead to an upward trend in revenue, while negative sentiment can lead to a downward trend in revenue (as these Korean tech firms experienced, for example).

Ask any Communications Manager and they’ll agree that positive brand stories should be in their arsenal to mitigate potential neutral or negative quarters. These positive stories are also excellent to release throughout the calendar year as your business goes through natural ebbs and flows.

Using CSR to increase the sentiment of your business online can not only impact the success of your business offline, but it can also impact the online sentiment of your brand with investors and consumers.

CSR On your website 2

It attracts talent (making your HR Department your BFF).

Picture this. You and your competitor have a job opening for the exact same position. You’ve posted within the same week, and you’re going after the same group of candidates. It’s down to a few potential candidates, and you have your eye on one target that you feel would fit so well within your company culture.

Now, picture yourself on the other end of the table. This candidate is deciding between yourself and your competitor, and they’re ranking the pros and cons of both companies – until they realize that you have a strong CSR program, and actively give back within the community. Your company encourages employees to volunteer, and has a number of partner non-profit organizations that you donate to each and every year.

Which company do you think this candidate would choose? The company that understands the importance of contributing to the community, or the company that doesn’t?

It’s a choose-your-own-adventure type of story, with your business coming out on top.

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It contributes to cost-savings (encouraging consumers to think the same) and acts as a natural PR story

One of the easiest places for a company to start engaging in CSR is to use it as a way to save on costs and overall expenditures. Whether it’s using less energy or using less packaging, these savings add up quickly.

A great example is General Mills. They’re on a path to reduce cost and energy savings, as they’ve installed energy monitoring meters on several pieces of equipment at its HQ. In doing so, the company saved $600,000.

General Mills went far and wide with PR for this strategy, focusing first on their website. It was included in all CSR material, and was quickly picked-up by publications around North America.

So, not only did this move increase sentiment of their business, it also contributed to cost-savings. It was a natural story for their PR team as well, circling back to an arsenal of content, if and when you need to mitigate neutral or negative sentiment online.

Conclusion

If you’re actively engaging in CSR and not highlighting your endeavours on your website, take note – the pros far outweigh the cons (really, are there cons?)

From differentiating your business from competition to engaging potential talent, the importance of highlighting CSR on your website is real. And, truly, it’s so easy.

To get started, just click here. We’d love to show you how we’ve helped businesses in your industry.

 

 

5 Common CSR Questions Answered

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has quickly become the buzz term that everyone in investor relations is talking about. Loosely speaking, CSR is the idea that a company of any size should contribute to a better society and cleaner environment, with the understanding that doing so will enhance business operations and competitiveness. With this often comes common CSR questions, so take – for example – Google Green. Google Green is a corporate effort to use resources efficiently while supporting renewable power. Not only does this program lower costs for Google as a business, it drastically impacts the bottom line; Google has seen an overall drop in power requirements for their data centers by an average of 50 percent.

Knowing that we’re not all powerhouses like Google (though the sky’s the limit!), any IR business can benefit from CSR.

That’s why we’ve put together common CSR questions we’re asked all the time. We love CSR so much, we’re here to help answer your burning questions about this area of opportunity for your business.

5 Common CSR Questions Answered

1. Why should I have a CSR section on my website?

This is a question that we hear often, and one that we always love answering.

Implementing CSR on your site will directly and indirectly improve your overall competitiveness in the market. Common advantages of a company that has CSR presence on their site, versus a company who does not, include:

  • Creating shareholder value, which strengthens stakeholder relationships
  • Enhancing brand reputation, both in the community and within the business
  • Improving employee recruitment and retention
  • Highlighting and showcasing responsible leadership

And so much more.

While your business might already be active within your community, it might not translate online. Showcasing a strong CSR section on your website has a plethora of benefits.

5 Common CSR Questions Answered 1

2. Where should I place my CSR section on my website?

When consumers seek out information about your CSR involvement and can’t find it, they assume it doesn’t exist. Make your CSR section on your website clear and easily available. If you’re not communicating responsibility practices, you run the risk of having consumers think you’re not participating at all.

We recommend giving your CSR practices a dedicated section on your IR website. Rogers is a great example; on their consumer-facing site, CSR is easily located as a drop-down beside “Contact Us”. It’s easy to find and even easier to navigate.

3. What should be included in my CSR section?

What is included on your CSR microsite or CSR section of your website is often dependent on your company or industry, but generally we recommend the following to be included:

  • Your history, business and overall economic impact of your CSR endeavours
  • Community Investment section, including a list of highlights from the past year (this could be overall funds donated, employee time spent volunteering in the community and more)
  • News and Media Relations section. This allows you to share dedicated press releases for your CSR activity, including contact information to get in touch with your Communications team
  • CSR report downloads from both current and past years
  • In addition to your News and Media Relations section, an active CSR blog will showcase authenticity from your business and differentiate yourselves from competitors.

What is included in your CSR site is dependent on your overall strategy and goals, though we suggest that you include these four points at minimum.

5 Common CSR Questions Answered 2

4. Who should be involved in creating your CSR strategy?

CSR strategy and implementation comes from your Leadership and Executive team, with involvement from Human Relations and Communications. For a CSR program to truly work, Leadership must pave the way and lead by example.

Human Relations is an important stakeholder in this process because they are often one of the key benefactors of a successful CSR program. A CSR program can be an aid to recruitment and retention, especially when you’re hiring in a competitive graduate market.

5. How can I stand out from my competitors with CSR?

The answer here is authenticity. Your investors and customers have excellent BS meters, so make sure that your CSR communication is authentic in nature.

Be honest about your efforts and activity, but also be honest in areas that need improvement. If you have areas of your CSR strategy that needs improvement, acknowledge this and provide updates along the way.

As you develop your CSR website (or perhaps take inventory of your current site), ensure you are telling your story effectively and honestly. Make customers want to share your content, and tell your own story. If you do not have CSR presence or if you’re not telling your story effectively, your customers might think you’re avoiding or hiding something entirely.

 

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5 analytics to know when measuring web traffic

How well do you know the people who visit your website? Do you know how they find you and what they do when they get there? You might already be measuring web traffic by keeping tabs on how many views you get each day but you could be tracking your user behaviour in far more detail. Website analytics—the measurement and analysis of all your website data—let you do exactly that. However, all factors are not created equal. Below we take you through the important factors to look at, why they matter, and what affects them.

measuring web traffic - engagement

FACTOR: Engagement

WHAT IT IS: The length of time that a person spends actively interacting with your website on their browser.

WHY IT MATTERS: While having a high number of page views can send your dopamine soaring (seriously, it trips the same pleasure centres as a workout, or a really delicious meal), that’s not really what matters. Ten thousand hits doesn’t mean much if each user only stays for the average 15 seconds. Yes, 15 seconds. That’s how long you have (according to this Time article) to get an investor’s attention before they move on to the next company.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Engagement hinges greatly on content. Mainly, what type and what subject. People will more likely watch a video than read an article. Newsworthy subjects invite longer engagement than time-honoured topics. Design plays into it too, as user-friendliness will keep a person interested longer. For ideas to increase investor engagement on your site, take a look at our post on the subject.

measuring web traffic - bounce_rate

FACTOR: Bounce rate

WHAT IT IS: The percentage of viewers that only visit one page before leaving a website. So, for this factor, a low rate is a good rate.

WHY IT MATTERS: A high bounce rate translates to a lack of engagement. If a user is engaged enough by the first page they visit, they are more likely to click through to another, and another, and to return in the future. Bouncers drive up your page views but if they aren’t engaging, they aren’t investing.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Again, we come back to content and design. User experience is always at the top of our list of priorities, as it is important for the majority of viewers. This study asked participants what causes them to leave a website, and why, and found that the majority of reasons fall under two categories: issues that reduce a company’s credibility (like not having contact info), and those that waste a user’s time (such as annoying ads). A website with a low bounce rate will have an intuitive design that guides users naturally to additional pages.

measuring web traffic - sourceoftraffic

FACTOR: Source of traffic

WHAT IT IS: The channel through which investors land on your website. Direct sources come to your site, well, directly. They do not pass go, they do not collect $200. They type your URL into their browsers and voila. Referred sources come through any external link that the user has clicked on.

WHY IT MATTERS: Different sources have a different level of investment in what you’re offering. A person who finds you through a search on Google is not the same as someone who clicks a link off a Facebook post. The difference here is active vs. passive sources: the Google-searcher has actively sought out information on a specific topic using keywords tailored to what they’re looking for; the Facebook-user, on the other hand, has stumbled across something they found vaguely interesting enough to click on, but wasn’t necessarily looking for. Active sources means engaged users. Passive sources means more bouncers.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Where viewers are coming from influences how they will interact with your website. In the example above, you can see that organic, search-engine generated referrals yield more engaged viewers than social media sources. Therefore, knowing your sources can help you determine how best to market your website. SEO will be the best way to target search engine sources and the keyword here is (you guessed it), keywords. Adding relevant terms anywhere they fit naturally makes you easier to find by your target audience. Be careful not to overstuff your content with repetitive words, though. Keywords should appear to be hardly working when, in reality, they’re working overtime. We have some SEO basics for you on our blog.

measuring web traffic - uniquevisitors

FACTOR: Unique visitors

WHAT IT IS: The percentage of views that are from new visitors.

WHY IT MATTERS: Unique visitors mean new eyes—eyes that belong to new potential investors. Like we said earlier, you need to consider more than just your total number of views when analyzing your website traffic. No matter how many times someone accesses your site, if it’s from the same device, they will only be counted as one visitor. So this metric gives you a sense of the size of your audience. If you’ve only been measuring how many visitors you have, as opposed to the percentage of them that are unique, you likely have an inaccurate idea of how many people you’re reaching.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: The issue of unique visitors is a tricky one—return users means you have reliable, engaged followers, but bringing in new traffic increases your viewership to a larger scope of people. Ask yourself what’s more important: the loyalty of a smaller number of followers, or the mass reach of as many users as possible? There’s no wrong answer, it’s all about what’s best for you and your website.

measuring web traffic - mobile_desktop

FACTOR: Mobile vs. desktop

WHAT IT IS: The functionality of a website on mobile devices vs. desktop computers.

WHY IT MATTERS: Everyone is mobile. This study shows that the average person accesses the web through 6 different devices and 12 different sources. These numbers are even higher with millennials. On top of that, users are often plugged in to multiple devices at the same time, making cross-platform usability increasingly important. Mobile optimization is crucial to every aspect of website analytics: the ability to attract a high volume of users, the ability to engage them with your content, the ability to drive them to visit multiple pages, and ultimately, attract them to invest in your company.

WHAT AFFECTS IT: Being mobile friendly affects website traffic in a major way, as 83% of people will leave your site, or switch devices, if it doesn’t function well on mobile. While the above study proves that people (as a whole) use their desktops more than any other device, smartphones are the most-used device among millennials. In order to keep up with the influx of mobile users, your site needs to work across all devices. Users are looking for a seamless, simplified experience. Even a small thing like a phone number that dials automatically when clicked can determine whether an investor will make the call to your company. Take a look at our infographic for a breakdown of the impact of mobile optimization on investor relations.

 

Conclusion

Web analytics is a cross-modal practice where each factor influences and interacts with the other. Knowing the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of user behaviour gives you insider knowledge that you can use to tweak and refine your marketing strategies. Check out our suggestions for the best resources out there to take your website to the peak of your industry and keep it there.

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4 common website design myths

Lightning never strikes the same place twice. Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis. Mac computers are immune to viruses. All of these statements have one thing in common: most people believe them, but they’re simply not true. When it comes to creating a website, it can be just as easy to succumb to common website design myths. With this week’s post, we aim to reroute you back on the path to stellar investor website design and point out common mistakes along the way.

 

website design myths 1

MYTH NO. 1: All of your website’s important information should appear ‘above the fold.’ That is, you should be able to see it all without having to scroll.

FACT: The fold does not exist.

‘Above the fold’ used to refer to the upper half of the front page of a newspaper. Literally the part that appeared above the fold. Apply this to the internet and we’re talking about anything on a webpage that is visible without having to scroll. In the early days of the internet, users weren’t used to scrolling, so website designers adhered to the trends to make sure viewers didn’t miss important info. It’s intuitive: what’s at the top of the page is what gets the most focus. People won’t think there’s anything below the fold, so they won’t know to scroll. Right?

Not so much. The fold died long ago, particularly when mobile was born. Websites crossed over to mobile, and smartphone apps were introduced, so we came to rely on the constant swipe of the index to bring a constant stream of new information to our fingertips. We became conditioned to scroll, so now we’re used to it. This has translated back to desktop—Apple even dropped the scroll bar from the side of your browser. Why? Because the fold does not exist.

In reality, we spend most of our attention below the fictitious fold (a whopping two-thirds), because we now intuitively scroll on websites, regardless of the device we are using. As long as your investor website design invites your viewer down-screen, you can trust that’s exactly where they’ll go.

 

website design myths 2

MYTH NO. 2: All content should be on my homepage.

FACT: Packing your homepage with a barrage of information will make most users bolt. With a homepage, think welcome mat as opposed to full-blown surprise party. This is your first impression. Your storefront window. Your launch pad into another dimension. Your gateway to the next frontier…

Okay, you get it. Don’t load your homepage with text-heavy paragraphs and long-winded explanations of what you’re all about. Do show this through eye-catching images and punchy headlines. Straightforward statements that sum up your vision and your industry chops are more likely to entice viewers to scroll and click their way through your site.

A homepage is like the cover page of a third-grade poetry booklet: a collage of snapshots of the stunning work held within its pages, not a down-to-the-syllable summary of each poem. Investors will seek out the information they need; all you have to do is guide them there. These are the companies we think do this best.

 

 

website design myths 3

MYTH NO. 3: As long as it works on desktop, the website is good to go.

FACT: The majority of investor website traffic comes from mobile sources, making this one of the most damaging website design myths of all. Whether on a tablet or a smartphone, more and more people are using their mobile devices as their primary access point to the internet. With the ever-changing release of new screen sizes, transferability and adaptability are the keys to accessibility when thinking about investor website design.

Being optimized for mobile covers more than just being easy to read. The layout needs to function, downloadable content should be easy to access, features have to load quickly, and e-newsletters need to adapt. The majority of consumers will move on from your website if it doesn’t operate well on mobile. Let’s make this a priority.

For more hard stats on the importance of mobile optimization, see this post on our blog. For tips on creating the best investor mobile experience, click here.

 

website design myths 4

MYTH NO. 4: A great design is all people want.

FACT: Bells and whistles do more to distract than attract. In other words, less is more. Highlighting your company’s strengths through simple, compelling images will get your story across more effectively than a visual overload of design elements.

Content is actually more important than design elements. Think of it this way: at a restaurant, outstanding service goes a long way to make up for bad food, but bad service can almost always kill a good meal. Same goes for your website: killer content will hold up a not-so-solid design, but an overactive design won’t make up for poor content. When content comes first, you will attract investors to the points you want to emphasize without over-doing it with design.

Want to know more about how to channel your content on your website to make yourself a major player in your industry? Download How to establish yourself as an industry thought leader though your website. 

 

Conclusion: Be simple, be accessible, be successful.

It doesn’t take much to create a website that will draw investors in and keep them there, as long as you do it right. Here are the key takeaways from what we’ve discussed to avoid succumbing to website design myths.

  • Stay up to date with user trends and how they interact with websites and access content
  • Increase the reach of your site through mobile optimization
  • Resist the urge to plaster your site with over-the-top visuals and bright fonts

How your information is delivered is just as important as what you’re delivering and falling victim to website design myths can derail you from reaching your final vision for your site. By following these points, you can bring what counts to the forefront: what you stand for, what you can accomplish, and why you’re worth the investment.

 

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What is a full service digital marketing agency?

Introduction: You have many options for your website project

If you’re considering a website redesign project or want help planning your digital marketing strategy, a full service digital marketing agency is one of the options you’ll come across in your research. The word is one thrown around a lot in our industry, but what does it really mean? Also, you may be wondering if it’s better to work with a full service agency or multiple niche agencies. This blog will cover the differences between the two and why, in our opinion, a full service digital marketing agency is the way to go.

Want to know some specific steps to take when choosing a website agency, or specific questions to ask them? Check out The Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency!

 

What is a full service digital marketing agency?

A full service agency manages all aspects of a company’s digital presence. While their services may focus on one area, such as website design or development, they also help clients with the strategy and execution of many other parts of digital, including social media, search engine optimization, content strategy and creation, and more.

what is a full service digital marketing agency?

What is a niche agency?

A niche agency, also sometimes referred to as a specialized agency, is a digital agency who only works in a very specific aspect of digital marketing. Often, companies turn to multiple niche agencies when thinking of reevaluating their website presence. It’s a possibility to hire one company to control your social media presence or, even more specific, to hire one company to control your Twitter, another company to control your Instagram, and so on.

Should I work with one full service agency or with multiple niche agencies?

A question many companies face once they’ve decided they want to revamp their digital presence is: ‘Do I hire several niche agencies, with one taking over Twitter strategy, one my website, one my Google analytics, and one my content writing? Or do I hire one agency that can help me in all of these channels?’ When making a choice, it’s important to think about your company’s goals. If you’re a larger company and your main priority for your digital presence is efficiency, then hiring different niche agencies may not work unless you have an employee responsible for keeping contact and communication open with each of them. However, the niche agencies are niche for a reason. Why wouldn’t you hire someone to control your Instagram who lives and breathes nothing but that specific social network? Unsure about what your specific goals are? No problem. Here’s a few points to consider:

Analytics and reporting

Niche agencies can dig deep into one platform for you and know exactly what to do with the data for that platform. Full service digital marketing agencies tend to look at analytics over the whole spectrum: what does the social media data vs. the website data look like, and what is that telling us?

What is a full service digital marketing agency?

One aspect or many?

Is your goal to gain exposure and followers on one specific aspect of your digital marketing strategy, or do you want to see what your digital presence looks like as a whole? Niche agencies are better at specifics for the platform you’re consulting with them on, while full service digital marketing agencies will look over everything.

Experience

Of course a niche agency will have a full service agency beat when it comes to experience, learnings, case studies, and feedback for the particular platform they work for, as they focus on it everyday. However, a full service digital marketing agency will be an expert in the digital space. If you want to figure out how these platforms can link together to align with your company goals, a full service agency will know how to create those pathways between platforms.

Brand voice

Full service agencies are more likely better at coordinating one brand voice across all your digital platforms, as they’re managing all of them and providing strategy. Niche agencies will be well versed and able to effectively speak to the audience for the one platform you’re paying them for.

What is a full service digital marketing agency?

Why we recommend a full service agency

In order to have an impactful digital presence, all aspects of it including your website, social media tools, presentations, and, for public companies, investor marketing materials, need to be effectively working together. Full service digital marketing agencies promise fluidity and cohesiveness when it comes to your company’s messaging, goals, and the way you to speak to investors. Multiple niche agencies will be harder to coordinate and sync together when looking at the digital components of your company.

 

Conclusion: Think about your company’s goals

As we said above, when choosing you need to first assess what your company’s main goal is in wanting to refine your presence on the web. Are 90% of your customers accessing you on Twitter or LinkedIn? If so, hiring a niche agency specifically for social media may work. If your website, presentations, email marketing, and more need to be synced up with the same brand voice, start talking to some full service digital agencies. Not sure what questions to ask any agency when you finally do decide? Download the Complete Checklist for hiring a website agency. It’s right below!



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7 reasons why companies hire website agencies

Introduction: Do I need to hire a website agency?

There are different routes you can take once you’ve decided that you want a new website or want to revitalize your old one. With companies like Wixx, Weebly, and WordPress (why all the ‘w’s? we wonder) offering you the build-it-yourself platform, it’s a valid point to wonder why companies hire website agencies. This week’s blog breaks down common reasons companies seek out an agency to help with their digital marketing needs. If you want more specific advice on what you need to be asking an agency once you talk to them, download The Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency. 

 

7 reasons why companies hire website agencies

1. Agencies are often one-stop shops

Many companies, especially publicly traded ones, go into a website redesign project imagining that new colours and crisper images are the only thing holding them back from better website traffic and more email signups. What usually ends up being the case, however, is that upon researching further the company realizes that what they’re really looking for is help with their entire digital marketing strategy. Beyond just a website redesign, this can include content strategy, social media support, opportunities for mobile optimization, as well as looking at the latest digital trends. A reason why companies hire website agencies is because they feel comfortable knowing one group can take care of their digital presence.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

2. Personalized support

While the DIY website builders have help lines and support pages, there’s thousands of people at once, from individuals to larger companies, who are learning how to use their service. Many companies choose to hire agencies for the personal touch of a client/vendor relationship. If we’re talking public companies, the space of website compliance and mandatory releases and filings can be tricky for anyone to understand. It’s helpful to know there are people standing by who do this for a living and are able to give personalized suggestions and assistance.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

3. Continued website maintenance

This is especially true for publicly traded companies, who are mandated to keep the public updated on their activities, and who publish news releases and company information frequently. Purchasing a monthly support package from an agency ensures that your website stays updated with all the information you need. Also, with the digital world evolving at the speed of light, your website may not be up to standards in a year from now, or might not render well on a new device that comes on the market. Website agencies are on top of the latest updates and trends, so will make sure your website is at the highest possible standard.

 

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

4. Safety and security

DIY website builders like WordPress are open source, meaning that the code of their website is accessible to anyone who wants to look through it. The sheer multitude of people with open access to the WordPress process inevitably also makes it an easier platform to hack into. Companies with sensitive information who want to make security of files a top priority often look to website agencies for their website project. Website agency servers are more secure, especially if they have build their own content management system (CMS) to create and update content.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies5. Design originality

Another reason why companies hire website agencies is for the in-depth approach many agencies take to learn about their client and their goals with a new website project. The DIY website builders implement click and drag systems, and anyone can buy a design they like the best. Companies seek out website agencies when they have specific targets in mind, or want their website design to be 100% original to their story. Most agencies have some sort of ‘discovery meeting’ or learning session before they begin design to get to know their client’s style.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

6. Expertise in the industry

We recommend that companies looking to hire a website agency should look for agencies with expertise within their sector. A company in the natural resources industry will have different website goals and a different content strategy than a retail company. Website agencies are often available for content strategy consultation, and can guide companies through the types of content their target market will want to see first.

 

 

7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

7. Websites get stale

If we can get away with this one without the cheesy music starting to play: a website is a living thing. Once a site’s finished, it doesn’t just sit there, looking perfect, forever and ever. In a few years, after the iPhone 64 has been released, your website probably won’t look so hot if it hasn’t been updated with the latest design trends. A reason why companies hire website agencies is because they don’t have the time to be thinking about how their website looks, especially on all the different devices out there. Website agencies are on top of the trends and latest updates (it’s our job). They think about this part and let you know if something needs to change so you don’t have to worry.

 

Conclusion: Think twice before you drag-and-drop

We hope this gave you a brief overview of some of the main challenges our clients face when they come to us for a website redesign. Though DIY website builders are a lot cheaper to build, factors like safety, constant maintenance, and keeping the site fresh for years to come are why companies hire website agencies to do the job. Think about the most important goals for your company and decide from there.

 


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How the Canadian Anti-Spam Laws affect IR communications

Introduction

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (or CASL for short) and their specific rules have been talked about a lot over the past few years, and many still have questions. How will CASL affect your public company, as well as your email lists? Are you staying compliant? This week’s blog breaks down the basics. For specific step-by-step directions, get a copy of our free Complete CASL Guide: how to keep compliant and grow your subscriber list.

Canadian Anti-Spam Laws affecting IR communications

What are the Canadian Anti-Spam Laws?

CASL is a set of laws that were passed in 2010 and went into effect in July of 2014. These laws are focused around keeping commercial messaging more truthful and less spammy. Three main government agencies are responsible for the enforcement of the laws, including the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), who will fine anyone who violates the new CASL laws. (yikes!)

What is CASL affecting?

CASL is aimed at regulating the way electronic commercial communication happens. That means sending emails, social networking messages, even text messages with a business purpose to clients, customers, or prospectives. We’re going to stick with the email laws, since that has the biggest affect on public companies. In terms of email, CASL dictates:

  1. The specific elements to include in each email sent for business purposes.
  2. Who you can and cannot continue to email based on whether or not they have given you express consent.

Get more specifics here: The Complete CASL Guide: keep compliant as you grow your subscriber list. 

Canadian Anti-Spam Laws affecting IR communications

What are the CASL rules for public companies?

If you’re a public company reading this blog, CASL will affect you! But let’s break it down. The CASL ‘Fast Facts’ site provides an easy three question survey on the matter of compliance. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these three questions, then yes, CASL applies to you.

  1. Are you using email, SMS, social media or instant messaging to send commercial or promotional information about your organization to customers, prospects and other important audiences?
  2. Do you install software programs on people’s computers or mobile devices?
  3. Do you carry out these activities in or from Canada?

Don’t worry, you have some time!

The regulatory agencies for CASL have set a three year grace period for all businesses to refine their email lists and get their subscribers compliant. So learn the steps and send ‘good with the law’ emails!




The Complete CASL Guide:




SEO basics to know before a website redesign

Introduction: Why everyone should know SEO basics

The majority of all internet traffic comes from search engines, especially from the big three: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Claiming your piece of that pie and directing searchers to your website is where understanding the SEO basics is so important. Although it’s a dream of so many to appear on the holy grail that is ‘Page 1’ of Google, it’s sadly not as simple as your target market searching the phrase ‘best mining company for investment’ on Google and seeing your company’s name first. (Wouldn’t that be great, though?) As you’re looking to redesign your website, you want to make sure that you’re not compromising your existing website’s SEO. What does that all mean? First, let’s learn the basics.

 

What is SEO?

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. It’s an aspect of marketing focused on growing your website’s visibility and authority in search results by taking into account a number of both technical and nontechnical factors (which we’ll get into below). An important part to note here is that SEO focuses on organic search engine results. There are also many paid ways to show up first on search engines. Your goal, however, should be to focus on where you rank in terms of organic traffic.

Why is SEO important?

Time for an analogy. Let’s go back to the ‘your website is your house’ idea from our Website Hosting Basics blog. Now think of search engines as the roads and pathways that lead cars, or website traffic (ha), to their desired destination. If there are no efficient roads that lead directly to your house, no one will be able to come visit you, or even find you at all. The process of Search Engine Optimization is like building multiple roads that point back to your house, making it more accessible and raising awareness that you’re home. The internet is so packed nowadays. Without optimizing your website for search engines to find you, you could be as good as invisible to Google and your target market.

What are some characteristics of websites with good SEO?

Keep in mind, there are entire Ebooks and marketing guides that get into the nitty gritty of what you can do on the technical side for better optimization. Here are five higher level items that search engines look for:

High quality content

High quality content

You want your website content to have a unique offering and a real value to it, different than the same 10 second spiel that’s on a thousand other competitor websites. The more useful content you have, the more likely people will stick around, as will search engines. Some good examples of high quality content can include industry articles, videos, and blog posts. Vary up your content, but make sure to have clear titles, headings, and descriptions.

Another important part of content in terms of the basics of SEO is in your keywords and keyword research. As search engines ‘crawl’ through your website, they’ll look for certain keywords that align with your offering. The more targeted and better your keywords are, the higher ranking you’ll receive when users search for that particular keyword. But BEWARE OF KEYWORD STUFFING. Search engine algorithms are smart, and they’ll catch you if you’re attempting to use the same keyword 30 times on a page. A good rule of thumb is to stick with one specific keyword per post or page.

 

Navigation

Navigation

Search engines have to be able to find clear pathways between individual links on your site and the pages they link to. It’s also just as important for your website visitors to intuitively navigate through your site. 404 pages are not good. Broken links are worse.

 

User experience

User Experience

One of the immediate killers of a website’s search engine ranking is when a site has a high bounce rate, or when people click onto your site and for whatever reason leave right away. A great user experience contributes to a lower bounce rate, or lower amount of people abandoning ship right away. Some factors contributing to a great user experience is the site’s functionality, ease of navigation, it’s look and feel, and (our favourite) accessibility on ALL browsers and ALL devices. (Have you checked out how your website looks on a tablet lately?)

 

SEO basics for your website

Links

Links and link building are probably the hottest (and hotly debated) topic when it comes to SEO. The basic logic is this: the more credible websites that link to your website, the higher authority your website will have. Theoretically, the idea is no one would want to link to a bad website. Many SEO experts believe that external linking is one of the most important aspects to know when it comes to improving your search engine ranking. External linking also refers, however, to your website linking to credible outside sources.

 

title tag and meta tags

Title Tag & Meta Description

You’re probably very used to seeing title tags and meta descriptions every day, even if you didn’t know their names. Here’s what they look like:

title tag and meta description

The title tag tells internet browsers, as well as search engines, what the page is all about. The meta description, then, gives search engines some more insight. To be golden for search engines, the title tag and meta description should directly address the question that’s being asked. For example, if your target market is searching ‘what are some gold production companies in Canada?’ and that’s you, your meta description should read something like ‘XXX is a gold production company in Canada specializing in XYZ’. This direct correlation helps search engines when they’re attempting to find answers.

 

Conclusion: Can I do SEO by myself?

We hope the SEO basics above can at least give you a head start when assessing your website. But remember, the world of SEO can be overwhelming, especially if you’re looking to review your metrics on applications such as Google Analytics. A professional agency can take all the guesswork out of Search Engine Optimization, and can easily find exactly what metric you’re looking for. They can also tackle some of the technical aspects on the backend of a website that can get pretty confusing.

In any case, remember that the key to good SEO is to continually assess your website’s performance and make improvements; tweaking the content strategy and user experience to get the best results. Good luck, and feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have!

 

8 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2016

Introduction:

Happy 2016! We’re fresh and ready and excited to be back. We’re kicking off a year of great content with some digital marketing predictions for the next 12 months and letting you know what those will mean for your company’s own 2016 strategy and planning. We wrote a similar post at the beginning of 2015, where we talked about mobile, social media, and content marketing. A year later it seems many businesses have adopted many of these strategies and platforms, but how will 2016 tweak and transform them?

 

1. A mobile-driven world

As we’re sure you know by now from our Mobilegeddon campaign mid-2015, Google released a mobile-friendly update that boosted the search rankings of mobile-friendly sites. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s hard to find on Google. The Google developer blog also released a statistic reporting that 94% of people in the US with smartphones search for local information on their phones.

2016 will see an even bigger reliance on mobile, and arguably will complete our transformation to a mobile-first world. Newer developments and trends such as app indexing, where your app information shows up in search results, and social media and video advertising taking over the mobile space will push our smartphones further into our hands and into the forefront of marketers’ minds.

 

2. Focus on personalization

Relevance is the word of the hour (or should we say the year?). With website users seeing thousands of pieces of content daily, it’s not just about thinking what they’ll relate to, but what they’ll IMMEDIATELY relate to and want to click. Some of the digital tools out there nowadays take out all the guesswork and easily allow companies and marketers to create in-depth audience insights by and tagging specific interests. The importance of personalization online will also lead to the rise of personalized marketing (also referred to as targeted marketing and one-on-one marketing). This form of marketing usually done through automation, makes a unique product offering to each customer.

 

Video marketing: sticking around and expanding

80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. (Source). I feel like we can just drop that statistic and end there. But I won’t.

This year, it’s not enough to create and promote a video ad on social media. Brands have gotten the hang of that already. (Seriously, have you taken a look at your Facebook feed lately? I’m looking at mine on my phone right now, and see a video ad for Wendy’s Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger, a Marvel sponsored ad about Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and a Universal Pictures trailer for the newest Tina Fey movie. All within a single swipe).

Video isn’t going away, and it will just get bigger. The ads will be even more prevalent than they are now, especially the ones “under-the-15-second sweet spot, long enough to convey a message but short enough to hold a user’s attention”(business2community). Just like app indexing, video ads are going to start showing up in Google search results more frequently in 2016. Seeing a trend?

 

Marketing automation

Staying ahead of the digital marketing game in 2016 means understanding marketing automation and experimenting with it. As social media expert Jeff Bullas writes, “human intuition and creativity is being enhanced by data”. Instead of randomly firing off a few marketing campaigns on social media and otherwise throughout the year, companies and marketers are now getting more strategic and more targeted with their messages. With billions of mobile moments happening each day, 2016 looks like the time to allow marketing robots to take over and expertly rapid fire your message out to the right people. You just won’t have the bandwidth to keep up with those companies going full robot.

Digital tools out there such as Hubspot, Marketo, and SimplyCast use their own algorithms to deliver email and social media campaigns, decide the best time to interact with users, and maximize the effectiveness of any other paid digital advertising campaigns. Looking into marketing automation is especially useful if you’re a smaller company trying to expand your reach and maximize your dollars.

 

5. Content Collaboration

User-generated content (or crowd-funded content) is on the up-and-up. We went to a great social media event at the end of last year with a panel of Vancouver experts in marketing and social media. The Global Marketing Director at Herschel Supply Co. Mikey Scott had a lot to say about how user-generated content promotes the Herschel brand. “The dream situation is when we can get users to create content for us…if we have product photos on Instagram, they’re from real users sending the photos to us. None of our #welltravelled photos to date are paid”. In speaking of the ‘well travelled campaign’, Scott refers to the company’s well-populated Instagram account that is “65-70% user generated”. “That’s how people get involved”, he said. “They didn’t even know they were marketing. There is a little thing about recognition that makes people want to help and do things for you”. 

As a company, think of ways to expand your content reach beyond just the daily blog post or company newsletter. Speak to your readers about generating content, look into relationship and influencer marketing (another big 2016 trend), and really reach people in the places they visit and read every day. Then offer to have them write about it!

 

Trusting data, not your gut

This goes hand in hand with marketing automation and how digital tools are now able to tell you everything from who’s looking at your site, to where they’re coming from, to what they’re into, to the next time they decide to come back. Phew. The sheer volume of data about your marketing campaigns, your customers, and your target audience is so great that most companies turn to other agencies who are experts at sifting through the info and figuring out what’s working best. One of the beautiful things about all the metrics being made available to us in 2016 is that companies no longer have to guess at what’s working with their digital marketing strategy and what’s falling short.

Getting all this big data is useless, however, if companies aren’t using what they know to make better decisions. The real prediction for this point should be: 2016, the year of the constant tweaking. Online metrics should be checked weekly, if not daily, and companies need to be making changes based on what converts better.

 

Finding your social network niche

When customers are spreading their time evenly amongst Facebook, Twitter, email, LinkedIn, Instagram, text message, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat (you get what we mean), it’s more important than ever this coming year to be able to talk to them on the channel of their choosing. Instead of spreading yourselves thin and posting everywhere, conserving resources and focusing in on where your target audience hangs out will be crucial in the New Year. Although social media automation like Hootsuite helps with this, what’s the use of maintaining a dedicated Pinterest account when you’re looking to target 50+ year old investors?

On the other side of that, however, are companies that are focusing their marketing efforts on newer, less saturated social networks such as Snapchat and Periscope when old faithfuls like Facebook and Twitter are getting too crowded for comfort. Understanding where your company operates best, whether it’s ‘in with the new’ or the tried and true, will be beneficial for you moving forward.

 

Moving beyond the listicle

Ironic, we know, as you’re reading this in a listicle post. (Hey, we’re only five days into 2016, these predictions stretch out the full year). While the 15 Ways to Bake Incredible Things with Cheese posts are still top performing internet content (thanks, Buzzfeed), we predict the rise and popularity of more long-form content websites such as Medium. Inc, and Mic.com. We’re still firm believers that quality work over quantity will succeed at the end of the day. Although our attention spans are shrinking, people are still willing to read quality pieces, as evidenced by the wild popularity and viral attention of many longer articles on Medium. Plus, we think it’s time people need to start sucking it up and read paragraphs again.

 

 

What did you think about our list? Agree? Disagree? We’d love to know either way. Shoot us an email at info@blendermedia.com or talk directly to us on Twitter @BlenderMedia.

 

How to survive the world’s worst gift

how to survive the world's worst gift

From: How to Survive the Holidays: the complete field guide

The Blender team has selected eight typical holiday horror scenarios and provided you with step-by-step solutions for survival and endurance during the crazy season that is the holidays. Read Scenario #1 below, or click the button above for the full online survival guide experience! (Looks and works great on desktop, tablet, and your phone!). 

 

The Situation:

It’s bound to happen at least once over the holidays. A really excited coworker/estranged family member/acquaintance gives you the most horrible gift you’ve ever received. Maybe it’s a giant t-shirt with their face on the front, maybe it’s a Stairmaster with a passive aggressive note, or maybe it’s a hand-me-down jacket that smells funny. How on earth do you muster appropriate class and grace?

 

How to Survive:

Step 1: Take a (brief!) moment to collect yourself and put your initial reaction aside.

surviving the world's worst gift

 

Step 2: State what the gift is out loud: ‘Oh look! A ____’. This gives you a moment to collect your thoughts and think what you’re going to say about it.

surviving the world's worst gift

 

Step 3: Compliment gift: **WARNING** Do not go overboard with a wave of compliments. Say one nice thing, even if it’s about the wrapping paper.

 

Step 4: Say thank you again and gently steer conversation away from yourself. “Who’s next to open?” “Are those grandma’s cookies I smell?” etc.

 

Step 5: Discard the gift. (or donate). Discreetly! If gift is homemade, hide somewhere out of the way unless the person who gave it to you is coming over. Then place it somewhere in the house.

surviving the world's worst gift

 

Words and phrases to avoid when receiving gift:

  1. What is it?
  2. Um.
  3. This is JUST what I wanted (this could lead to more similar gifts in future).
  4. Well isn’t this a winner!
  5. Any outdated phrases no one uses anymore that prove you’re forcing a replay (examples include Gee, thanks! golly, what a doozie…).

Words and phrases okay to use:

  1. So thoughtful!
  2. Thank you
  3. What a great colour!
  4. What a nice gesture.
  5. I can see you put a lot of thought into this.

 

Want more holiday survival goodness? Want to see all scenarios on a big beautiful website? You’re just a click away! (Button below). Remember, the site looks and works great on all devices, including your smartphone.

 

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