Getting Started With SEO & Inbound Internet Marketing in Wisconsin

If you’re trying to build a business online, advertising is essential – but traditional advertising techniques do not work online!  Entirely new marketing and outreach strategies are called for.  These techniques are known as Inbound Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Inbound marketing and SEO are separate principles, but they work hand-in-hand.  Knowledge of both is essential – but they’ll help you promote your website, boost your business, and build your leads list. That’s why so many invest in the services of a Wisconsin internet marketing company, like Marketing Metrics Corp.

In this guide, we’ll be covering the basics at a 101 level: why these techniques were developed, how they work, as well as how you can implement them on your own website.

  1. What Are Inbound Marketing And SEO?

Inbound marketing was developed early in the 2000s as the first crop of online businesses came to realize that traditional “push” marketing didn’t work very well on the Internet.  Most Internet users simply ignore banner ads and other forms of overt advertising or even install software specifically intended to block ads from view.  Likewise, while there is some value in using email for “direct mail” style campaigns, this too tends to yield slim results.

So, a new approach was developed: inbound marketing solutions also referred to as “content marketing.”

The principle behind it is simple:  Create a website full of resources and rich in content, which is likely to appear when users employ Google to search for products or businesses similar to your own.  So, rather than directly advertising yourself to them, you instead wait for them to come to you voluntarily.  Then, once they’re at your site, your high-quality content inspires them to stay and read about your products or services.

This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in.  SEO is the art of designing a website that is as likely as possible to show up near the top of Google results, putting your site in front of as many users as possible.  SEO drives inbound marketing but is ineffective without a site built for inbound.

So, from the customer’s perspective, the buyer’s journey looks like this:

  1. They independently have an interest in a product or service that you sell.
  2. They run a Google search for that product or service, usually a question related to it.
  3. The Google results include a relevant article from your website.
  4. They click on the link to your site, reading the article.
  5. Enjoying the content, they click through to other product or service offerings on your site.
  6. Depending upon where they are in their decision making process, they may either convert and send a RFQ or purchase a product online.

It’s indirect, but for over a decade this has proven to be by far the most effective way of driving traffic to your website, creating leads and sales.

  1. Six Steps To Getting Started With Inbound Marketing And SEO

Getting started with these techniques will require substantial preparation.  Plus, most importantly, it takes time.  Inbound / SEO takes time to research and prepare, and they also take time to show results.  Patience is required to see the proper payoff.

Here’s how to get started.

1 – Take an inventory of your assets and prepare for data tracking

If you’re truly starting from zero, there’s nothing to do here, but it’s better to lay some groundwork.  What marketing materials do you already have which could be put on your website and reused as content?  Good inbound content is not overtly promotional (aside from a call-to-action or CTA at the end), so look for materials that are primarily informational in nature.

Also, take whatever data you have on the results of previous marketing campaigns, and create a spreadsheet.  You’ll want to use them as benchmarks going forward when measuring the success of your new inbound campaigns.

2 – Create buyer personas for your target market

A buyer persona is a kind of character sheet, a generalized description of a typical person you’d want to target with your marketing.  This should contain all their basic demographic information (age, sex, location, etc.) but it can be as detailed as you want. The more detail, the better.  Job title, role in decision making, daily job responsibilities, fears, worries, hopes, goals, lifestyle, daily routine… the point is to understand your customers, based on data you have on them.

Good content is targeted.  Buyers want to feel like they’re reading materials written specifically for them, rather than something written to appeal to everyone.  All the content you make should target these personas specifically.

3 – Research your SEO

Good SEO can be the topic of its own article, but in brief: you want the content on your website to match up with what your buyers are searching for.  So use tools such as the Google Keyword Planner or SEMRush to discover which search terms are associated with your website – as well as those of your competitors.  In general, you want to keep an eye on your competition’s SEO strategies and adapt yours accordingly.

This SEO research will then dictate what topics, keywords, and questions you’ll want to focus on for your inbound content.

4 – Create a marketing strategy, content calendar, and goals

Once your research is done, it’s time to start seriously planning.  Your marketing strategy should outline what topics you intend to cover, and how they will be pitched towards your buyer personas / markets.  Remember to write content that will appeal to industrial buyers and specifiers throughout their decision-making process. Also, define stylistic elements, such as the “voice” used in your content.  Are you professional?  Casual?  Do you write in first-person or third-person?  Your content should be consistent in terms of its tone.

A content calendar is exactly what it sounds like, and gives you a guide towards publishing in months ahead.

Finally, create goals that are clear, concise, and measurable.  Use actual numbers whenever possible!  Don’t merely aim for increasing sales, aim to increase sales by 10%, or another specific figure.

5 – Start publishing content

Once the groundwork is laid, it’s time to start producing and publishing content.  Blog articles are the most common and popular form, but any form of media can be used in inbound marketing.  Articles, infographics, memes, videos, podcasts… vary it up so that you attract a wide audience.

Consistent publishing is key!  Ideally, something new should be posted once a week, and consider once-a-month to be the bare minimum.  Continuous new content helps push your website towards the top of Google searches.

6 – Measure, track, and refine

Inbound marketing is an ongoing process.  It’s never “solved.”  Track the results of your efforts and look to make tweaks to increase their effectiveness.  At first, you’ll be guessing at what content your readers want.  Use viewer numbers to fine-tune your targeting and choice of topics.

Then keep track of everything in a spreadsheet or similar program.  The longer you work on your inbound campaigns, the more data you’ll have to analyze and draw insights from.

Those are the basics.  Expect at least 6 months before you start really seeing results.  Inbound is a “slow and steady” exercise that gains momentum over time.

Choose Marketing Metrics Corp. for effective Inbound Marketing

Getting started in inbound marketing and SEO can be difficult – but we make it easy.  We’re Wisconsin’s top digital marketing agency, and we can deliver the full package.  We’ll help you design a great website and populate it with the content you need to stand out in Google searches, combined with the effective use of social media and other outlets.

Contact us online today to learn more or call (262) 691-9229.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Building A 12-Month Digital Marketing Blueprint – Straight from A Digital Marketing Agency

It’s nearing the end of the year and, if you’re part of a digital marketing team, that means it’s time to start thinking about your digital marketing blueprint for the next year.

Or, if you haven’t made a digital marketing blueprint before, now is the time to start!  Any digital marketing agency will tell you that companies that genuinely plan out their content marketing ahead of time are much more likely to succeed with their marketing, compared to those who only play it by ear.  Even if you’re part of a small company or startup, you can give yourself a big head start by putting together a content plan ahead of time.

Trying to create an overall plan for an entire year might seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds.  The key is to break the job down into a series of easily-performed steps.

8 Key Steps in Creating A Year-Long Digital Marketing Blueprint

  1. Assess your current market position

As Sun Tzu famously said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”  Self-assessment is a critical part of creating any sort of successful long-term business plan, but this is an area that is often overlooked.

You should take a step back and look at the big picture:

  • Where do you truly fit into your market?
  • What are the biggest strengths of your product, and the unique value propositions you use to convey those strengths?
  • What are your weakest points, or those areas where your competition has a clear advantage over you?
  • Focus on aspects such as your product’s utility value, price, customer experience, post-sale support, and customer loyalty.

Honesty is critical here.  No one has a perfect product which is better than everyone else’s in all respects.  Understand both the strengths and weaknesses of your operation, so that you can play to the former and avoid being hindered by the latter.

  1. Form realistic plans for the coming year

Knowing your current position, you can then start thinking about where you want to be at the end of the next year.  Form goals and objectives, and be sure that those objectives are clear, well-defined, and achievable.  Whenever possible, use numerical specifics.

In other words, don’t merely say “We want to improve customer experience.”  Have a metric, based on hard data.  If necessary, invent a metric for the purpose.  Start mailing out surveys, look at the results, and then say, “Our customer experience ratings should be X% higher a year from now.”  Same with sales numbers, or any other key performance indicator.  Don’t be vague; give yourself concrete numerical goals – and make them reasonably achievable.

Sure, plans may change as the year goes on, but start with concrete goals.  If possible, also sub-divide them into quarterly or monthly milestones which you can check off throughout the year.

  1. Start planning your marketing campaigns

Once you know where you’re at, and where you want to be in a year, you can begin drawing up plans for how to get from point A to point B.

This will, of course, be extremely individualized for each business and market, so an article like this can only provide rough guidance.  Hiring a digital marketing agency can make the planning phase go much more easily!  However, here are some broad factors to keep in mind:

  • Make or update your buyer personas.  Your buyer personas are a lifeline when trying to decide what sorts of marketing campaigns will appeal to your buyers.  Your personas should be as up to date as possible.  Remember, buyer trends can shift rapidly, so don’t assume personas from years ago are still accurate.
  • Create a timeline of campaigns.  Hopefully, you have a good idea of what major initiatives your business will be launching across the course of the year.  Start planning a timeline of campaigns to coincide with those initiatives.
  • Assign people and budgets.  Now is also the time to lock down your budget for your upcoming marketing initiatives and make assignments of who will be responsible for what aspects.

Remember to keep your strategies varied!  A good digital marketing blueprint should include blog content, videos, social media, possibly podcasts, and more.

  1. Audit your existing content

This is also the time to look at what’s currently on your website and decide what works vs. what needs to be thrown out or revamped.

  • Is the overall tone and style on-brand for your current corporate persona?
  • Do all your blogs and landing pages have clear calls-to-action?
  • Do you have any leftover landing pages referencing expired promotions?
  • Do the various CTAs and other audience-grabbing techniques still fit your revised buyer personas?
  • Is your content still supporting the buyer’s journey, with clear top/middle/bottom of the funnel materials?
  • Don’t forget to audit external media sources such as YouTube, if you maintain a channel!

Depending on the amount of content on your site, revising it may be a year-long process.  If so, start prioritizing the changes and then make that part of your overall digital marketing blueprint.

  1. Plan for new content

By knowing what’s on your website, and other digital platforms, you can start thinking about what new content will be needed to support your marketing strategies.  If you did your homework in Steps 2 & 3, you should be able to easily see what’s needed and layout a provisional content calendar that dovetails with your timeline.

However, don’t forget that repurposing content is also an option!  Updating old pages allows those pages to keep their existing SEO juice while making them more attractive to new visitors.

(This is a trick digital marketing agencies love to use because it keeps costs down.)

  1. Consider your self-promotion

Content marketing isn’t a purely passive activity!  You will want to have more specific outreach intended on guiding people towards your website and other content outlets.  In particular, plan for the following:

  • Email outreach.  Email is still among the most cost-effective promotional options available.  Plan on having a newsletter, or email promotions mailed out to your list regularly.  A marketing automation system can make this so much easier, so consider trying to fit one into your budget.
  • Social media.  Do your choices in social media outlets still match your buyer personas?  Have new social media sites opened recently that could be useful?  Survey the landscape and see if anything needs to change.
  • Keywords and SEO:  Have you updated your keyword target list recently?  Have you checked to see how you’re faring vs. the competition?  Now is the time to make those changes, if necessary.  Remember that voice search is growing in popularity!  Focus on natural-language keywords, phrases, and questions.
  • Paid ads:   Do you want to pay extra for PPC, banner ads, and similar paid promotions?  This can be tricky to calculate, particularly if you’re relatively new to online marketing.  A digital marketing agency can help you weigh your options!
  1. Prepare for lead management

Now that you have most of your content plans in place, it’s time to think about what will happen when your audience responds.  In particular, you want a clear set of guidelines for handling new leads, and how to encourage them to move through the conversion funnel.

Also, now is an excellent time to go through your CRM or lead database, clearing out any dead leads.  You don’t want them wasting your sales staff’s time.

Finally, investigate technological/automation options for increasing lead conversions.  For example, cart-abandonment emails and remarketing PPC ads are excellent at bringing people back to your site, if they left without completing a sale.

  1. Get your reporting in order

The last thing on the list is planning for oversight and reporting.  Based on everything else you’ve planned out, you should have a very good idea of what data you will want to gather, and which key performance indicators you’ll be focusing on.  Be certain you have a solution in place to collect and analyze this data!

So, set up your database and reporting tools so they’ll be ready for the new influx of data in the coming year.  If possible, have them ready to immediately start spitting out month-to-month and year-to-year reports so you can start comparing results as soon as your new campaigns begin.

Marketing Metrics Corp. Is Your Industrial Digital Marketing Agency

We have years of experience focusing on the industrial sector, helping organizations of all sizes add successful digital marketing campaigns to their overall outreach portfolio.  To learn more about how a digital marketing agency can help your operation succeed, contact us directly.

 

Best Practices for An Industrial Website Design That Generates Leads

Businesses in every field need a website to help generate leads – industrial businesses included.  Previously, the industrial sector had been less reliant on online marketing than most other business sectors, but that’s swiftly changing.  In a global, borderless economy, it’s more important than ever to have a website that distinguishes you from your competition and helps capture the best leads to help you keep your manufacturing business growing.

Chances are, you have a website, but it probably hasn’t been updated in some time.  In this guide, we’ll talk about current best practices for designing an industrial website as of 2019, and how to make it effective at generating leads.

The Best Practices for Lead-Focused Industrial Website Design

  1. Know Your Leads

Before you can optimize a website for lead generation, you need to know who your best leads will be.

The emphasis here should be on best leads.  One of the hard-learned lessons of Internet marketing over the past decade is that it’s relatively easy to get a gigantic list of names and email addresses – but that’s not always a good thing.  If you have a huge list full of poorly qualified leads who are unlikely to convert into customers, that will ultimately just end up wasting your sales team’s time.  They’ll spend far too much time chasing leads who aren’t worth the effort and potentially even allow good leads to slip through the cracks.

So, your website will ultimately be about gathering leads, but it will be focused on gathering the best leads.  This brings us to the central question: who are your best leads?  

Look through your customer database.  What you’re looking for are commonalities between your best customers, particularly from a long-term perspective.  What industries are they in?  Where are they located?  What is their spending capacity?  Who was the actual purchasing decision-maker, and what was their role in the company?  What do you know about those decision-makers personally?

As much as possible, answer these questions based on hard historical data.

Once you have this information, you’ll want to create a buyer persona.  Or possibly more than one if you’ve identified multiple distinct lead types.   A buyer persona is a sort of character sheet, describing who an ideal lead for your company is.  It covers their basic information but also attempts to dig into their psychology, such as pain points and life goals.  The more detailed you can make it, the better.

Then, as you’re going ahead with your industrial website design, you can refer to this buyer persona to make sure you’re always targeting those optimal buyers with your marketing efforts.

  1. A Quick Overview Of SEO

Search Engine Optimization – SEO – is at the heart of all business to bsuiness website design.  SEO is a series of principles for helping search engines (mostly Google) identify your site and place it high up on lists of relevant search results.  This is of critical importance!  Most people running online searches – upwards of 80-90% – will never click past the first page of results.  If you aren’t on that first page, you’re basically invisible to them.

There are several facets of SEO, but the most important revolves around the use of keywords.  Keywords are words or phrases that people are typing into Google which, ideally, should lead them to your site.  All the content on your website should be written to utilize these keywords, to help point Google towards you.

Fortunately, Google offers a free keyword discovery tool, to help you get started.  Look for keywords closely related to your site, as well as those of your competitors.  Additionally, pay attention to questions being asked.  Answering questions people ask of Google, which are relevant to your business, makes for extremely effective SEO.

There are several other aspects to SEO but we’ll touch on those as we discuss the actual industrial website design itself.

III.  Key Principles for An Industrial Website Design

Once you have buyer personas in place and lists of the keywords and questions they’re likely to be putting into Google, the website design can begin in earnest.

As far as the visual design goes, that’s up to you.  Your website needs to be reasonably attractive to visitors, but the actual aesthetics are less important than you might think.  Usability and creating a strong user experience are still much more important, particularly in a pragmatic field like industrial work.  Let form follow function.

However, you do want the visitor’s first impression to be good!  A typical website visitor decides within ten seconds whether they want to continue looking at a page.  So, do whatever it takes to hook their eyeballs in those first few moments, then get on with a more practical presentation.

Now, here are some more concrete things to consider with your industrial website design.

1 – Mobile-friendliness is a must.

You’ll want your website designer to utilize adaptive design in building your website.  That means the website can automatically reshape itself to fit whatever device the visitor is using.  It’s vital that the website be equally usable – and provide a comparable experience – whether the user is on a desktop machine or a mobile device.

This isn’t merely good design in terms of broad appeal.  Google heavily pushes adaptive design and will give SEO bonuses to websites that render well on a wide variety of devices.

Plus, as a corollary to this: be thumb-friendly.  Try to place interactive elements towards the center of your design because that’s where mobile users’ thumbs will be.  Avoid sidebars – especially sidebars at the left – whenever possible.

2 – Minimize the number of onscreen options.

As a rule, people become uncomfortable when they have too many options without good ways of differentiating between them.  This is sometimes called “choice paralysis,” and if you’ve ever spent more time staring at listings in Netflix than watching shows, you’ve experienced it.

Good industrial website design seeks to limit the number of onscreen options to around 6-9, at most.  There may be specific exceptions to this – particularly if you have an online catalog – but the basic website design should be as streamlined as possible.  You want to give your users enough choices to navigate effectively, without overwhelming them with too many choices.

However, this also creates a great opportunity for you to develop well-defined paths through your website.  You don’t want people browsing around aimlessly if you can avoid it.  You want to guide them towards becoming leads and customers.  Restricting their navigation options can be a highly effective way to guide them down the proverbial garden path.

3 – Give plenty of opportunities for visitors to become leads

To become leads, visitors must reach out and contact you or else give you a way to contact them.  This needs to be encouraged by putting calls-to-action (CTAs) in as many places as possible.  Many websites, for example, have a space on one side which is continually asking them to sign up for a mailing list.  Others make sure to put their own phone number front and center on every page.

Basically, a visitor should never be looking at a page that doesn’t give them at least one method of converting into a lead.

Also, landing pages are one of your best lead generation tools – and a prime focus of SEO.  A landing page is a self-contained page on your website which contains a specific offer, usually for a piece of premium content, in exchange for contact information.   The basic value proposition is: “You give us your email address and we’ll let you watch this highly informative video!”

These should use all the best tactics you’ve gleaned from studying your prime leads and utilize plenty of relevant keywords/questions to attract as many views as possible.

And speaking of creating content:

4 – Try to be at least as informative as you are “salesy.”

People expect an industrial website to be focused on selling a product or service, but don’t overdo it.  Websites which are wholly self-focused will tend to turn off visitors, especially younger visitors such as millennials.  You want to mix in plenty of content, which is genuinely informative, as you also push the virtues of your own products or services.

Again, this is where it helps to be informed about your buyers and their search habits. The better you know them, the easier it is to develop content that they’ll find compelling.

On the topic, also keep in mind that your content may be seen by many different individuals within a company.  Be careful about using too much technical jargon.  A visiting engineer might understand it – but what if their purchasing decision is being vetted by the buyer or CFO?  Even as you target your best leads, keep in mind that you’ll likely have a wide audience.

  1. Moving Forward with Your Industrial Website Design

This should give you a good idea of what to focus on as you continue to develop your website.  As one final tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment!  Utilize A-B testing, just as you would with product R&D to identify the most effective designs, layouts, and content types to reach your audience.

If you need more assistance in creating a great industrial website, Marketing Metrics Corp. is always here for you.  Our team collectively has decades of marketing and online design experience and we focus exclusively on the industrial sector.  We can help you make your industrial website design clean and responsive, with a great user experience, while still generating the leads you need.

Please contact us directly for a full consultation on our services.

 

Why Metrics Should Guide Your Industrial Website Design Strategy

If you own a Wisconsin manufacturing firm or B2B business in the industrial sector, it’s essential to put the proper research into the web development stage. Doing so can help determine what’s working on your site, what can be improved, and outlines what pages users are generating conversions. The right industrial website design team will also be able to collect the metrics needed to boost sales and ensure all of the information users are looking for can be easily found.

Let’s take a closer look at why metrics are essential for a winning industrial website design strategy.

Internal Search Queries

Google Analytics offers businesses a variety of tools to determine what potential clients are searching for. Such marketing metrics offer great insight into the terms users are using on your site (Equipment list, certifications, SKUs, sizes, services, technical specs) that they may be unable to find. You can also look directly at the internal searches made on your site and use these metrics to dictate your site architecture, making it easier for industrial buyers and specifiers to find what they’re looking for and increasing sales.

Paid Search Queries

If you have queries rolling in from paid ads and PPC campaigns but no clear landing pages to support them, that’s money out the window. By utilizing metrics, you can determine whether you need to create new product/service pages to support such traffic; in some cases, constructing a general industries page might also do the trick. By implementing these types of strategies at the website design phase your industrial company will quickly see a bump in qualified leads and new users.

Form, Chat & Call Data

Is your business tracking form or chat data and phone calls from potential clients? If so, you can easily utilize such metrics to build out your website. Do a bit of research: you might find suggestions for content to add, new industries to target, and additional applications to improve your website. Going in-depth and even reviewing chat and call transcripts can help you identify issues potential clients are having that can provide insight into your site’s architecture.

Heatmap Analytics

This tool enables you to determine which parts of your website are hot and which are not. By learning where people are scrolling and clicking for more data, you can improve all aspects of your overall design. This includes functionality and architecture, as well as your content marketing strategy. You can then use these results to construct a better user experience.

Let us be your go-to Wisconsin industrial website design team!

Having a functional and easy-to-use website is one of the best ways to generate leads and sales. To learn more about how metrics can boost your presence online, contact Marketing Metrics Corp. today! Call our team at (262) 691-9229 our fill out our online contact form.

What is Employment Marketing and why do you need it?

The 2017 unemployment rate is hovering around 2.6% in Southeastern Wisconsin. Many of our industrial clients have asked for help in creating and executing an employment marketing strategy for recruiting new employees. In this three-part blog series, we’ll explain:

1. What is employment marketing?
2. Why do you need it?
3. What tactics can be used to successfully recruit new employees and retain existing ones?

What Is Employment Marketing?

Employment marketing involves building a strong brand as a company and employer. The goal is to articulate what makes the company different or special.  The employer brand image impacts recruiting, retention, engagement, and overall perception of your company.  It should answer a very simple but important human resource related question: “Why should I work here?”

To be fair, many industrial company owners and HR professionals know the answer to this question but don’t have the marketing skills to communicate it – at least externally. In our work helping industrial clients with digital marketing, we see many examples of well-run companies with terrific cultures. Unfortunately, you would never learn this by visiting their websites or social channels.  The web presence is typically, sales-centric rather than being well balanced with employment marketing. In most industrial companies, employment marketing is done poorly, if at all.

Why Employment Marketing?

Imagine the competitive advantage you would have if you were able to consistently hire and retain talented employees.  But if you think recruiting for top talent in the industrial space is difficult now, wait until Foxconn and their suppliers start hiring thousands of employees in 2018 and 2019. The unemployment rate in Southeastern Wisconsin could dip below 2%.  The importance of marketing in the HR field is further validated by the fact that ten thousand Baby Boomers in the US are retiring every single day. In light of this phenomenon, businesses are facing a looming labor shortage, and competition for skilled workers will rapidly become fierce. The battleground for finding top talent is the internet which requires effective marketing. As a result, Wisconsin companies are researching various solutions that will help them find, hire, and keep top-notch talent.

Today, many potential applicants use the same tactics in job searches as they do when searching for a new product or service as consumers. They will search the internet to determine whether your company is worth considering as a potential employer. In fact, 77% of applicants will research your company (visit your website, social channels, employee review sites like Glassdoor, etc.) before applying for a position.  Employee review sites like Glassdoor enable employees to post good or bad comments about your company anonymously. So, take a moment to visit your website, social channels, and employer review sites like Glassdoor.  Do these sites accurately communicate why someone should work at your company?  Did you get a bad review by a former employee?  Employment marketing uses tactics such as positive employee testimonials to manage and present a positive narrative about your company.

How Do I Build My Company or Employer Brand?

To answer the question “Why should I work here?” you really need to answer a series of questions from a potential candidate’s perspective. These questions will relate to why your company is a good employer and a great place to work. To communicate effectively, HR departments need to partner with marketing, and use various marketing strategies and tactics (touch points), such as video, images, interactive websites, social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), blogs, targeted ads, and more.

In our next blog in this employment marketing series, we will discuss the various employment marketing tactics that we used to help one of the fastest growing industrial companies in SE Wisconsin present a robust brand image as a great employer.

About Marketing Metrics Corp.

We specialize in employment marketing for the manufacturing sector. We use unique and effective employment marketing strategies and tactics to boost your employer brand, meet your hiring challenges, and improve the overall experience for your existing employees. If you need help but you don’t have the budget for a full-time position, consider outsourcing this vital function. By outsourcing employment marketing, business owners and HR professionals can save time, and focus their efforts on more pressing HR matters.

To learn more about our employment marketing services click here.

To learn how to use effective employment marketing strategies and tactics to boost your employer brand and meet your hiring challenges, download our free guide now.

Download the Employment Marketing Strategy Guide now

Website Security

Raise your page rank, increase your traffic, and make sure that people want to reach out to you with HTTPS

An unsecure website can have negative consequences for your page rank, website traffic and the amount of data a user is willing to share on your website. HTTPS is a security protocol that uses SSL 2048-bit encryption to protect a user’s connection to the website. This ensures that any data transmitted to a HTTPS secured website cannot be tracked or stolen, and that the data is not corrupted as it is transferred.

Building a Trusted Brand

Google takes website security very seriously. In January 2017, Google Chrome started marking pages that receive sensitive user input, such as passwords or credit card information, as “Not Secure,” if they are not running on HTTPS. In October, Google expanded this practice to ALL pages that receive user input, including pages that contain Contact Us and Request for Quote forms. Pictured below is how a URL will be displayed after the changes are rolled out.

Savvy users will immediately realize that they are putting their personal information at risk by submitting information to an unsecure website, and 84% of regular users said they would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an unsecure connection. As security becomes more of a concern for Google, these “Not Secure” markings may become more visible

Protecting Your Users

You then have the question of security itself, which is a huge benefit, both for you and your users. Transmitting data over an unsecure connection puts your customers’ information at risk, leaving them open to identity theft and financial damage.

Furthermore, if the loss of personal information can be traced back to your website, you can be found liable in a court of law, fined and ordered to pay damages. Needless to say, data breaches are disastrous for a company’s image.

How do I find out if Google has indicated that my website is not secure?

The first step you should take is making sure your Chrome browser is up-to-date. To do this, open the Chrome Settings Menu by clicking on the icon with three vertical dots in the upper-right hand corner of the browser’s toolbar. If your browser is out of date, an option to update will be given in the menu options. If you do not see the option to update Chrome, you have the latest version. While most users will not have to manually update their browsers, it is important to double check to make sure you have the latest version. Staying up-to-date will keep your browsing information private and personal data secure.

You might not have even noticed it but when you use Google’s Chrome browser, there is an icon with a warning in the URL bar. When you click on the icon next to your URL in the address bar, you see the warning. Please see the example below.

These options are available in Chrome browsers that have been updated to at least v.62. Since the browser auto-updates, most users will be updated to the most current version. Any version after v.62 will still include all the security updates and features needed to ensure you are browsing safely and able to check the security of every site you are on.

How Do I Secure My Website?

Install a secure certificate

A secure certificate encrypts information between a web browser and a web server, so unauthorized people cannot view what is being displayed or submitted. If you are a current customer of ours, the good news is that your website is already running in https://. Secure certificates are installed on our customers’ sites, free of charge. Do you need a certificate? We can help. Contact us to learn more.

Secure your DNS

DNS tells the world where your digital assets, such as website or email server, are located. Marketing Metrics Corp uses Cloudflare as our primary DNS provider. Cloudflare handles the DNS for 38% of the internet’s websites and provides exceptional security and DDoS protection.

Install a Web Application Firewall

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) protects a website from malicious activity such as Cross Site Scripting (XSS) and malicious file uploads. Marketing Metrics Corp installs, tailors and maintains the security policies for our client’s WAFs, making sure their websites are safe and secure.

Need help from a website security company?

Keeping your website secure is good for your online reputation, future revenue growth, and your customers’ privacy. If you have any questions about the process and costs of securing a website, contact us today and take advantage of our FREE website review proces

 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

With increased attention from HR departments, media outlets [including the LA Times and the Wall Street Journal] and a historic lawsuit, we have received numerous calls from prospective and current clients who are concerned about their websites being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

What is the ADA?

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in places of public accommodation. Businesses both large and small are affected by the ADA. While Title III of the ADA is often known for its applicability to physical barriers such as lack of wheelchair access, acceptance of service animals, effective communication for hard-of-hearing individuals and accommodations for the vision impaired, its focus in the digital age has turned to websites. Where a website is heavily integrated with physical store locations and operates as a gateway to the physical store locations, courts have found that the website is a service of a public accommodation and is covered by the ADA. Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Target Corp., 452 F.Supp.2d 946, 953-55 (N.D. Cal.2006).

Why is website accessibility important?

In addition to mitigating the legal risk, there is an upside marketing-wise to making your website more accessible to the 39+ million people that live with a disability in the United States.

ADA Public Accommodations Website Accessibility TrialM

On June 12, 2017, a federal judge in Florida ruled that Winn-Dixie, a supermarket chain based out of Florida, was liable under Title III of the ADA. Its website was not compliant because it could not be accessed by the visually impaired via a screen reader. The Court awarded the plaintiff injunctive relief and attorney fees. The judge also ordered that Winn-Dixie make changes to its website to ensure compliance with the WCAG 2.0 standard. See below. Moreover, the court ruled that the Winn-Dixie website must be accessible by individuals with disabilities who use computers, laptops, tablets and Smartphones. Download and read the case here.
According to the WSJ, since the beginning of 2015 more than 350 US businesses from large retailers to small companies in all industries have been sued in federal court over website accessibility. Most companies settle for between $10,000 and $75,000 for legal fees & costs. They then must take on the cost of modifying their website to be assessable to the disabled. No doubt that the number of federal lawsuits alleging inaccessible websites will dramatically increase because of this ruling.

Is this a demographic I should include?

A recent study by Level Access presented at the CSUN 2017 Assistive Technology Conference found that people with disabilities in the age range of 21 to 64 represented a total market of $810 billion. They accounted for roughly 12% of the market in this age range. People with severe disabilities in the same age range represented a total market of $471 billion as well as accounted for 7% of the market in their age range. Since disability does not discriminate based on race, social class, industry or age a website should always be prepared to accommodate for this important population.
Having an inaccessible website will often result in disabled users leaving the site because of poor customer care and a perceived lack of understanding of their needs. In the same study mentioned previously, 85% of participants limited their web usage to sites they knew to be accessible. They were also more willing to spend money or engage in services with sites that were accessible to them, even if they ended up spending extra money.

How do I make my website compliant?

The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) provides a framework of how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. This was the standard that the Florida Judge used in his ruling on the Winn-Dixie case. It includes 12 guidelines that are organized under four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

Perceivable
  • A website will provide text alternatives for non-text content. This allows machine readers the ability to describe images to vision-impaired users.
  • A website will provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia. This allows hearing-impaired users to understand the content of videos and other sound-based media.
  • A website will create and provide content that can be presented in different ways, including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning. This means any user, regardless of level of ability, should be able to utilize the full scope of a website.
  • A website will make it easier for users to see and hear content. This ensures vision and hearing-impaired users will be able to easily access assistive tools and functionalities.
Operable
  • All a website’s functionality will be available from a keyboard. This allows users without mouse, touch, or vocal based inputs to use the full scope of a website.
  • A website will give users enough time to read and use content. This means users will not be denied access to content based off arbitrary time limitations that impede their ability to fully utilize a website.
  • A website will not use content that causes seizures. This includes flashing images, visual content with a strobe-like effect, and other visually triggering media.
  • A website will help users navigate and find content. This is done by a clear and concise navigation with proper labeling for machine readers and other assistive devices.
Understandable
  • A website’s text will be readable and understandable. This means text will not only be large enough to read, but also has a high enough contrast to be distinguishable from its background on a webpage. This also means that text on a website will be readable by machine readers and other assistive tools.
  • A website will make content appear and operate in predictable ways. Navigational menus, buttons and icons will provide clear and understandable messaging to make it easy for any user to navigate a website. Key pages on a website will be easy to access and any forms or interactive content will be usable by alternative methods described previously.
  • A website will help users avoid and correct mistakes. If a user encounters a dead-end such as a 404 page, the content of that webpage should allow the user to find the content they were looking for. Any interactive content requiring text input should have clear and explicit instructive text to alleviate confusion.
Robust
  • A website will maximize compatibility with browsers and user tools. A website should be able to be accessed from any web browser. A website will not require or will minimize the usage of tools such as Flash for its operation.

To learn more about conformance, visit W3C.

The Marketing Metrics ADA Compliance Solution

At Marketing Metrics Corp., we assist businesses in making their website accessible and compliant with the WCAG 2.0 standards.

  • Website Accessibility Audit: Our web team will fully audit your website and provide a detailed report on the state of your site’s compliance. This will include estimated costs to bring it up to compliance, a projected timeline of the work, and a detailed plan to correct the violations.
  • Get compliant: Our developers will bring the website up to current accessibility standards and test it (validation) with assistive technology tools and create a Website Accessibility Policy Statement
  • Stay compliant: We will provide future monitoring to maintain your accessibility compliance as new technologies and standards are put into practice

Wi-Fi Vulnerability Alert: What You Need to Know

Tips from Your Marketing & Security Allies

The recent revelation of a serious Wi-Fi vulnerability affects countless businesses and individuals. The potential for danger is so widespread that numerous people in web security have referred to Monday, 10-16-17, as Black Monday. All devices that support Wi-Fi may have been affected by this vulnerability, which enables attackers to decrypt WPA2 connections.

The Wi-Fi vulnerability is now being called KRACK, a shorthand term for the phrase “key reinstallation attacks.” Whether you are a business owner or someone who has provided any sensitive information online, this issue should be of concern to you. The team at Marketing Metrics Corp. hopes that everyone who might be affected will take this threat seriously, as well as take necessary action to protect their devices accordingly.

Understanding the WPA2 Wi-Fi Vulnerability

Researchers at a university in Belgium have detected a way that attackers can gain access to sensitive information. This information would be sent via a Wi-Fi network using WPA2, which is a protocol designed to secure modern Wi-Fi networks. In fact, according to Wigle.net, this protocol currently secures 60 percent of the Wi-Fi networks across the world. Essentially, any modern device that supports Wi-Fi is at risk of being affected.

Attackers could take advantage of this vulnerability to steal a wealth of sensitive information, including passwords, emails, chat messages, and credit card numbers. Additionally, attackers could inject malicious information, such as malware and ransomware, into Wi-Fi networks. Because the security risk is not with individual products, but with the general Wi-Fi standard instead, all products that properly utilize the WPA2 standard may be affected.

Which Products Are Affected

As more information about this threat is revealed, a growing list of products and vendors will be affected. Bleeping Computer is compiling and updating a list for your reference.

The following are just a few examples of the numerous vendors and products presently known to be affected:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Apple
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Amazon
  • Cisco

How to Protect Your Devices from a Wi-Fi Hack

This vulnerability could affect any or all the devices you own or use that rely on Wi-Fi. Using public Wi-Fi poses an even greater risk. Fortunately, the vendors that manufacture such devices are currently working on security patches which will be released as soon as possible. As these patches are released, everyone will need to update their hardware and devices. However, since the threat can be fixed via software updates, you should not need to replace hardware. When you update your devices, be sure to prioritize devices that rely on public Wi-Fi, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

These are some of the devices and hardware that users will need to update after the new security patches have been released:

  • Mobile phones
  • Laptops and notebooks
  • E-readers and tablets that access Wi-Fi
  • Home and office printers that rely on Wi-Fi
  • Routers used at home and in the workplace
  • Desktop workstations
  • Devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and NEST
  • Any other devices, electronics, and smart automation systems that access Wi-Fi networks

Automatic and Manual Updates for Your Devices

To continue protecting your devices, you will need to update them as more security patches are released. Devices such as tablets, mobile phones, laptops, and desktop computers should prompt you when important security updates become available. Depending on your settings, these updates might be implemented automatically or manually. We recommend that you check for these periodically, so you may catch updates when they are released.

Other devices typically require manual updates, including printers, routers, and devices that support the “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology. You might need to sign into these devices, so you can manually update their firmware. If you do not know how to update your router, contact your internet service provider for assistance. You might also want to refer to device manuals or search online to confirm whether certain devices are affected by the threat.

The ROCA Vulnerability

Another recent security threat that we want to alert you to is called ROCA. This vulnerability involves an attack on public key encryption, which could weaken the process of authenticating software when it is being installed. The threat affects numerous other systems that depend on public/private key encryption and signing. To fix this, you should update devices with software updates released by the respective vendors. Look for security updates created to fix ROCA issues for your workstations and devices.

Getting Past Black Monday… Safely

The term Black Monday was used this week because two major vulnerabilities (KRACK and ROCA) have the potential to be quite severe. It is vital to make these vulnerabilities known to your colleagues, families, and friends, so as many people as possible can update their devices before they are attacked. Please join Marketing Metrics Corp. in spreading the word about these two serious security threats.


Sources:

https://wigle.net/stats#

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/list-of-firmware-and-driver-updates-for-krack-wpa2-vulnerability/

https://www.wired.com/story/krack-wi-fi-wpa2-vulnerability/

https://www.inc.com/joseph-steinberg/major-vulnerability-in-wifi-update-your-computer-amp-phone-asap.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/krack-attack-wi-fi-vulnerability-2017-10

https://considertheconsumer.com/consumer-news/wifi-vulnerability-affects-almost-all-devices

 

How B2B E-Commerce Leads to a Better User Experience

In addition to increasing sales for your business, a well-designed online catalog and integrated shopping cart can lead to a better user experience. Why is this important? B2B buyers and specifiers expect the same user experience with your website as they do with their favorite B2C websites. Those who visit your online sales portal will either be returning customers or interested parties. Therefore, the user experience should be intuitive to ensure strong leads and sales.

By planning a e-catalog that impresses visitors, you are investing in the long-term success of your business. Such details are integral to your entire digital marketing campaign, and they will make a difference in how potential customers perceive your company. Remember: not all online catalogs and shopping carts are created equal. Marketing Metrics Corp. specializes in the integration of best-in-class technology platforms to create B2B eCommerce websites that today’s buyers and specifiers expect. If you are considering upgrading your current website to a rich-function, robust, user-friendly E-Commerce site that will rival leading B2C websites – give us a call!

Making It Easier for Your Prospects and Customers to do Business with You

One of the top reasons that an E-Commerce site is useful is that it streamlines the shopping experience. That can only be good for your business. Happier customers are more likely to make purchases, as well as return to your online catalog as a trusted resource.

If you are exploring the idea of developing a B2B E-Commerce website, consider the following points:

  1. Content: Each product should have a dedicated page providing specifications, supporting documents, brochures, videos, images, CAD drawings, etc. Do you have products that are complimentary to each other? Or they are an add-on? Include them in your catalog so you have the ability to Cross Sell/Up Sell. Offering an online catalog does not necessarily mean that you must display pricing. If you prefer, you may provide a request for quotation (RFQ) option for products. If you have a custom product, offer the user the ability to configure products on your website and then immediately download a 3D CAD drawing or send a RFQ.
  2. Product, Keyword & Faceted Search: An e-catalog may be equipped with an interactive search function, providing clients with access to a virtually endless stream of your products. Allow the user to quickly search by what is important to them including competitive part numbers that corresponds to your part numbers. Faceted search enables the user to quickly find products by specified material, manufacturer, dimensions, application, etc. Lastly, let the user narrow their search or choose the format of how the content is shown on the website.
  3. Pricing, Inventory, Shipping & Billing: Your online sales portal should also offer quantity discounts, inventory levels, various shipping options including using the customers own freight provider, and billing options including issuing a PO and /or tax ID number.
  4. Repeat Customers or channel partners: Create private logins for repeat customers or channel partners to show special pricing, unique content and order history.
  5. Make it Mobile: Google partnered with Millward Brown Digital to survey 3,000 B2B decision makers about their research and purchase habits. According to the study: 42 percent of researchers use a mobile device during their B2B purchasing process. Search activity for those using a smartphone has intensified. Google is reporting a 3X growth in mobile queries. B2B researchers are not just using mobile devices when they are out of the office; 49 percent of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for research do so while at work.

Remaining competitive is vital for B2B marketers and offering an e-catalog is one of the best ways to accomplish this. Today’s shoppers expect more choices than ever, so make sure you meet this expectation by giving your customers access to a solid online store.

Marketing Metrics Corp. can assist with all of your digital marketing efforts. We have a wealth of experience creating E-Commerce websites for distributors and manufacturers. Let your online sales get a shot in the arm with powerful e-catalogs.

You can reach us today at 262-691-9229 or fill out our online contact form for more information.