Website Best Practices: Part One

First impressions are everything. A person’s first glance at your website will allow them to form several opinions pretty immediately—does the website load, is the website easy to navigate, is the information clear and easy to read, are the content and visuals engaging? All of these questions will lead the consumer to decide whether or not they continue to investigate your site. So you need to make that first impression count. Here’s how.

Loading time

First things first, does your site load quickly? If there is a delay, it might be costing you visitors. 53% of consumers will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.1 Google recommends that your site load in 2-3 seconds. How can you speed up your load time?

  • Optimize images. Huge site banners are eye-catching and can induce FOMO, but what if they never load or take too long to load? 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if this happens.2Crop your images to the correct pixel size to fix this problem.
  • Enable browser caching. When users visit your site, the information will be saved, so it will load faster for them each time they visit your site.

Try using Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your site.

Layout

One of the most important parts of a website is its layout. If a user cannot find the things they are looking for, they will leave and probably never return. Here are some tips for creating a strategic site layout:

  • Search bar. It may sound ridiculous that we have to mention this, but you would be surprised how many sites don’t have one. In addition to helping users find what they are looking for quickly, you also can check Google Analytics to see what visitors are searching for. If there are searches that come up with 0 results, make sure you write some content to respond to this need. If you haven’t already, set up Google Analytics so you can take a deeper look into how your website is performing. Check it regularly to see where you can improve.
  • Contact information. 44% of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number.3 Our advice is to have a robust About Us page where you can house information about who you are as a company as well as contact information.
  • Clear navigation. Providing a clear way to explore your site is a huge part of what can make a website successful. 50% of site visitors will use the navigation menu to orient themselves.3Helping visitors find the information they are interested in will build trust, credibility, and also will help reduce your bounce rate.
  • Logo=home. Always provide a way to get back to the homepage. The most common way to do this is to make your logo clickable. When coming from a referral site, 36% of visitors will click on the logo to reach the homepage.3
  • Scrolling is in. Scrolling is second nature now; users expect to scroll on pages. 76% of users use the scroll bar, with 22% scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page.4

Search Engine Optimization

We’ve had a few things to say about SEO, but there is always more to write. We’re firm believers that data should drive your website content, but not dictate it. Repeating the word “attraction” 14 times on your page will not increase your SEO value, it actually will do the opposite. But writing content about your attractions—now that is helpful and interesting to visitors and will likely increase your SEO strength. Search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%.5

General tips

  • Blog it up. When used in addition to informative and inspirational content, blogs keep content on your site fresh and encourage further reading. If you have the resources to maintain a blog, we highly encourage it. 70% of consumers learn about a company through their blog rather than ads.6
  • Mobile-friendly. Your site should be optimized for mobile users. Almost half of internet usage is from mobile phones.7
  • Video is king. Videos are a great way to captivate visitors. They help persuade 73% of people to buy a product or a service.8However, the size of videos can slow your website down. To avoid this, we recommend uploading your video to YouTube and embedding it onto your site, rather than hosting the video on your own servers.

1DoubleClick2Adobe, 3KoMarketing4ClickTale5Search Engine Land6QuickSprout, 7SUPPLYGEM,8Animoto

Social Media best practices: Twitter

You know you should be posting to Twitter, but are you doing it correctly? For all those aspiring social media gurus out there, here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your Twitter presence.

Your page

Keep it simple. Complicated handles can keep people from tagging you in their posts. Why make it hard for them to help you get your message out? Keep your handle simple.

Clean up your bio. Does your bio reflect who you are as a DMO? It should. The bio is one of the first things a follower will see on your page.

Best practices

All the posts. Twitter moves quickly, so it’s important that you stay on top of what is happening. Post several times a day when you first start up your profile to keep interest up. Don’t let your page become static.

Retweet and reply. Keep the conversation going by retweeting travelers’ posts, glowing feedback, or relevant articles that align with your brand. When users post on your page, direct message you, or mention your handle in their tweet, reply as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that social media is a venue of customer service.

Measure your efforts. Take a look at your analytics regularly to gauge how your page is performing and see where you can make improvements. If you see that you’re adding or losing followers based on certain strategies or that some tweets are getting more traction that others, adjust your plans accordingly to get the optimal return.

What should go into a post?

Keep it short. Even with Twitter’s recent increase to 280 characters, most Twitter enthusiasts are keeping it short and sweet. Focus on communicating one message rather than trying to say it all. You can always include a link to your website if you have more to say. Make the link shorter by using a URL shortener, like bit.ly.

Use visuals. Images and video in tweets lead to higher engagements. You can add up to four images, so go ahead, post a bunch!

Host a poll. Want more engagement? Having a poll is a great way to get followers involved. Twitter users love a good poll.

Soft sell. Passion Digital recommends that 80% of your posts be conversational, while 20% be promotional. Constantly trying to sell your destination can feel spammy to users. Give them content that they will want to engage with. These interactions will get them even more interested in your brand, so when they do see a post about converting, they’ll consider it even more.

On trend.  Another way to get noticed is to look out for events and people that are trending. If relevant to your page, find an organic way to work the hashtag into your post.

Your Facebook Strategy: When and Why to Utilize this Platform

It’s no secret that Facebook is one of the most popular social media outlets. US consumers spend 2 billion+ hours per month on social media sites, accounting for 20% of online time and 30% of smartphone time.1 That’s a lot of time browsing, scrolling, and liking, and a lot of time you could be using to influence potential travelers to choose your destination for their next vacation. Here are some of the reasons we find Facebook to be an invaluable marketing tool:

Micro-Targeting

According to Forbes, Facebook currently has over 1.2 billion monthly users. The Facebook platform allows advertisers to shuffle through this massive audience to find their best targets. Age, income, location, gender, education, and more can be filtered so that the money you spend on Facebook Ads are being seen by the people you want to see them. Some of the lesser known micro-targeting options include relationship status, ethnic affinity, and generation. Tap into these to get even more granular, but keep in mind, the more you layer in targeting, the more your clicks or actions may cost, as you compete in a smaller space.

Engagements—so much more than just a click

Clicks to website are great, but according to SalesForce, it takes a minimum of six to eight touches to make a user become a lead. So all of the added value of brand awareness that Facebook Ads provide through impressions, shares, comments, likes—those are valuable. Tap into Facebook Insights to measure your advertising effectiveness on a grander scale, beyond just the click.

All of the ads!

In 2016, Facebook organic traffic dropped 52% and is expected to fall more in 2017. So how can you continue to build your Facebook audience and get eyes on your content? Ads.

Facebook allows you to tailor your ads to your specifications. Want to gain a larger audience for your Facebook Page? Promoted Posts and Facebook Like Ads will help you achieve these goals. Looking for more people to see your website? Carousel Ads, Website Conversion Ads, and Click to Website Ads will send them there. Want to promote content, a video, or photo? Try Promoted Posts, Mobile News Feed Ads, or Carousel Ads here as well.

So how do you accomplish this? Keep reading.

Opportunities and objectives

There’s a type of ad available to accomplish each of your unique goals, but the first thing you need to know is what those goals are. Clicks on your ad drive traffic to your site and encourage engagement with your brand, but don’t forget about the value of your ad impressions. The more times travelers see and interact with your brand, the more likely they are to convert—ad impressions on Facebook are a cost-effective way to introduce yourself and stay top-of-mind. Finding the right balance between exposing new consumers to your destination and getting them to take the next step forward is key.

Let’s talk targeting

Facebook gives you the opportunity to narrow your parameters as much as you’d like to help you reach your target audience—and it’s an awesome feature! Have you thought about including a remarketing pixel within your ad? The pixel collects data from the travelers that see and click on your ad, which enables you to build look-alike or custom audiences. Optimization is even easier when you have more information about who checks out your ad or likes your page. Advanced targeting tactics like this help you utilize your budget efficiently and effectively.

Imaginative integration

Utilizing Facebook to build trust and show off your brand personality gets easier all the time—especially with the new ways to incorporate Instagram. Consider increasing the eye-catching content and variety of ads you use on both platforms. Ads that include video and stunning imagery perform better than text-heavy ads and create an emotional connection with audiences. Facebook even offers a new twist on the old-school lead generation campaign, and makes it easier for interested travelers to sign up for a newsletter, sweepstakes, or other offerings.

1Source: The Nielsen Company

Tips, Tricks, and Trends: How to up your Search Engine Marketing game

You know that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a cornerstone of an effective digital marketing campaign. Simply investing in SEM is a start, but how can you keep up with the latest trends that help you reach your ideal target audience?

Let’s be real: The primary search engine used is Google, so we will keep our focus there for the sake of this post (although Bing has a lot of cool stuff going on as well!). Google is continuously improving their platforms, including AdWords, DoubleClick, and Analytics, to help businesses connect with consumers. Algorithms are updated to provide searchers with the most relevant information they’re looking for, and your ad strategy should evolve to keep up with these changes. For example:

Expanded Text: Helping You Rise Above the Competition

The higher character count of Google’s Expanded Text Ads offers businesses several advantages. Your brand messaging grows stronger with additional content—more characters means you can be more conversational when incorporating keywords. Because expanded ads are longer, they tend to push other ads further down the screen. Investing in SEM means that your ads may have the opportunity to appear at the top of the page and be viewed by searchers before pages that organically appear on the list. Our SEM experts have updated thousands of our clients’ ads in the last year to meet the new standard of expanded text, and have seen that expanded ads are delivering consistently higher click-through rates. Have you upgraded your ads to give consumers a better brand experience?

Accelerated Mobile Page: The “Speed Racer” of Mobile Search

When you’re on the go and searching on your phone, you may have seen results with a tiny lightning bolt symbol and the letters “AMP”. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) load faster, giving them a huge advantage. During the Google Marketing Next Live Stream, multiple speakers emphasized that time is of the essence—a one second delay in mobile page load can decrease conversions by 20%. Another stat from Google’s stream stated that 53% of all site visits are abandoned if a mobile page takes longer than three seconds to load. Ensuring your site has a speedy load time and exploring opportunities like AMP will help you reach more consumers with a more optimized experience.

What does this mean to you? SEM is all about providing the potential traveler the right information at the right time. Improving your website so that it loads quickly—regardless of the device used—will help your site become even more appealing to consumers and, in turn, you’ll reap the benefits of lower click costs and higher ad positions. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the increased space available for your ads gives you new opportunities to entice searchers to click to your page rather than a competitor’s.

Does #DeleteFacebook matter for brands?

You may have seen #DeleteFacebook trending on social media recently and read headlines like “User data leaks at Facebook pull tech further into political debate” on TechCrunch.com or “WhatsApp Co-Founder, who made billions from Facebook, says it’s time to #DeleteFacebook” on Fortune.com, reminding us that data privacy is a huge concern for consumers online. Fueled by recent information that data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed and improperly stored information from millions of Facebook users, the world is reacting severely, causing a panic.

Here are the facts

The good news is the feature that allowed the level of data access is no longer on Facebook as of 2016. (Source: Facebook) Their attention to growing concerns confirms that the Facebook team is focused on security and protecting its users from future inappropriate data harvesting. This incident is not the first, nor will it be the last, and Madden is committed to keeping you apprised of any new developments and communicating opportunities for awareness.

What does this mean for marketers?

When these types of events occur, we typically see Facebook usage go down and users searching for ways to protect their data. Facebook will likely implement new privacy controls that effect what types of information are available to marketers and users may take this opportunity to utilize them. Although these controls can have an effect on available data, Facebook doesn’t only track people when they’re using the site, they also use third-party data to identify user likes and behaviors to help marketers connect with their desired audience. While most users won’t quit cold turkey, some will, and that creates concern for marketers who utilize Facebook’s extremely valuable user data to market their brand.

A multi-platform strategy can minimize the impact of negative feedback on one specific platform.

Marketers focused on single-platform engagement with Facebook will start to see drop-offs and campaigns will start to lose viability. A multi-platform strategy can minimize the impact of negative feedback on one specific platform. Engaging content that is crafted for specific niches helps audiences connect with a brand and deliver consistent return on investment, resonating with readers, and creating a loyal audience. Your brand should be delivered with a consistent focus on values and authenticity to create connections with your audience that want to develop a special bond with your brand over another.

Here at Madden, we know that components of a campaign fit together like pieces of a puzzle, building to create a comprehensive strategy that will deliver tangible ROI and contribute to the overall success of your brand marketing. Learn more about our drive to help our partners build the perfect campaign here: Building a Comprehensive Digital Campaign