Web Design Tips: How to Increase The Speed of Your WordPress Site

Similar to other systems, a brand new WordPress functions seamlessly and is super-fast in its operations at the beginning. However, as the days go by, and the site’s usage increases, you’ll reckon that it becomes slower. These slow-downs are often as a result of your site gathering clutters that make WordPress heavier and subsequently slower. The good thing about it though is that you can get your site back to its best (both in terms of speed and performance) with only a few simple fixes and tweaks.

Here are 10 simple things to do to speed up your WP site.

1. Optimize Your Site’s Images for the Web

Generally, humans are visual beings which mean adding images helps make your site more attractive to users while also enhancing their engagement. However, images can also consume much of your web resources thereby resulting in slow load times. We all know how this can negatively impact user experience, right?

So, what should you do? Well, you can use various image editing programs such as Photoshop or Gimp to size down and optimize your images for the web. Alternatively, consider adding the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin that automatically optimizes any images added to your WordPress.

2. Add a Caching Plugin

If your website is hosted on shared hosting, chances are high that it’s competing for various resources with a lot others. As such, every time a user requests a page on your website, your server slows down as it initiates the resource-intensive PHP process. However, you can use a caching plugin to cut down most of these requests, instead showing a cached page. To make your website even faster, combine your cached pages with a gzip compression.

Alternatively, you can use a caching plugin such as the W3 Total Cache or Super Cache plugin to cache your WordPress pages.

3. Use a CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) helps you connect to various servers across the world. The network allows you to serve various WP static files such as style sheets, images and JavaScript from these servers. Some of the most popular CDN service providers include Amazon Cloud Front, CloudFlare, and MaxCDN. All these providers are easy to configure and work seamlessly with a majority of available caching plugins.

4. Optimize your WordPress Database Tables

WordPress uses a powerful MySQL database to store all your site’s data. As such, your site’s database is bound to gather tons of data that may not be of any use to you. Some of the common useless data your database might be storing include spam comments, posts revisions, non-usable tables left behind by plugins, etc.

While it is not very clear whether having these data in your database affects the load speed of your site, we recommend that you clean up your database just for the purpose of decreasing your backup size. You can use the highly-effective WP-Optimizer plugin to optimize and decongest your WP database.

5. Minimize Your Page Load Requests

Adding plugins to your site can immensely enhance your WP site’s performance. However, most of these plugins load additional style sheets and scripts that consequently increase your site’s load time. To avoid this, try to minimize the number of requests by staying clear of plugins that add too many scripts to your website’s header and footer. To point out such plugins, check your site’s source code to locate requests to the .js or .css files. For advanced WP users, try to combine all scripts loaded by your plugin in one script.

6. Use Excerpts on Your Homepage and Archives

By default, WordPress displays full articles (complete with images) on several key pages of your site such as the homepage, author page, and the archives. Of course, this can be detrimental to your site load speeds considering that each of these pages possibly have multiple posts on them.

A better approach to this issue is to only show summaries of these articles in place of the full articles which enhances not only your site’s speed but also increases your individual page views. Besides, using excerpts also offers an excellent way to avoid Google’s duplicate content penalty.

7. Adopt a Third-party Commenting System

Let’s admit it, we all love seeing our audience contribute to our blog posts as this translates to more user engagement that’s crucial in building improved relationships with them. Unfortunately, users are likely to experience a lag whenever they try to load pages that contain posts piled with comments. This is mainly attributed to the intense congestion experienced by your shared hosting server whenever users comment simultaneously on that post. To avoid this problem, consider adopting a 3rd party commenting system such as Disqus, LiveFyre, or even Facebook comments. These type of systems load asynchronously and only do it when users scroll down to the comment area.

8. Use Cloudflare to Shun DDOS Attacks

With DDOS attacks (Denial of Service) increasingly becoming more prevalent by the day, it’s only imperative that you devise a method you can use to stop them. This becomes even more urgent if your site is hosted on a shared hosting server. As such, get a CDN and a firewall from CloudFlare to protect your WP site from both DDOS attacks and MySQL injections that could pose an enormous threat to your site’s operations. CloudFlare is also capable of showing a cached version of your site to your visitors whenever your site is down following an attack.

9. Use Lazy Load for Videos Plugin

You’ll hardly get any content that’s more engaging than videos. Luckily, WordPress allows easy embedment of videos from numerous video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. But there’s one problem – most video players used today are likely to load slower than your site. The good news though is that a WP plugin by the name Lazy Load for Videos can solve this issue quite easily. The plugin helps to replace your site’s video player with a thumbnail and a clickable play button. This means that your video player only loads when a visitor clicks the play button. If your site curates videos, then this might be another must-have plugin for you.

10. Add Lazy Load Social Media Buttons

Having social sharing buttons for your posts can be vital especially if your aim is to create viral content. However, these buttons can slow down your site since they come with additional loadable images and JavaScript.

To minimize this effect, ensure that your social sharing plugins asynchronously load your social buttons. You’ll, however, find out that a majority of these plugins enable the same by default. If not, you’ll need to enable them manually. Some of the best plugins to use here include Share This and Add to Any WordPress.

Web Design / Development / WordPress Speed Overview

Looking at the list of the to-do things outlined above, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work needed to optimize you WP site for speed and performance. However, the sacrifice is worth it and pays handsomely in the end. You’ll surely reap more benefits compared to the cost of all efforts placed in carrying out the outlined tweaks and fixes.

Need Help?  No Problem!

Contact 92 West at 402.620.2633 or contact us by filling out a request for proposal form and we’ll send you a flat rate quote.  

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SEO Changes to Watch and Plan for in 2016

2015 went down as the year when Google introduced the “mobile-friendly websites” concept. 

2015 SEO Recap: 2 Main Changes that Impact Your SEO, Content Strategy and Web Design Efforts

Early 2015, Google introduced a new algorithm that brought about several key changes including a call for websites to enhance their mobile friendliness (Responsive Web Design or RWD for short) to accommodate the rapidly growing mobile user segment. Later in October, Google released yet another algorithm that’s based on artificial intelligence. In this latest release, Google showed its determination to improve search results for its users (displaying information based on perceived user intent).

2016 SEO Overview

So, what do these changes by Google mean for your business come 2016? Well, it’s time to get a better understanding of your audience thus offering only what matters most to them. Besides, it’s also critical that you become more available to your audience when it matters the most. You should also focus on delivering content that’s more contextual and useful; consider getting an app and a mobile-responsive site — mobile is the way to go. With all eyes now set to see what 2016 unveils, here are our seven key trends we expect to take center stage this year.

1) Mobile optimization will finally overtake desktop optimization in terms of importance

In early 2015, mobile searches surpassed desktop for the very first time. Announcing these findings, Google acknowledged that mobile and desktop traffic had finally tied, with this trend expected to continue into 2016. It’s predicted that desktop usage will continue coming down which, therefore, means mobile traffic will become more important in the next few years. And now with Google’s latest change to a local three-pack and claims that desktop-specific sites are no longer needed, it’s clear that Google intends to create better mobile experiences on all types of consumer devices.

2) Video content will offer more ROI than written content for B2C industries and brands

Written content is still considered to be the standard type of content for many businesses today. This is despite calls for incorporation of other formats of content that’s regarded to be a good idea for SEO and consumer satisfaction. A vast majority of brands and businesses sparingly use other formats of content such as videos, infographics, and images. As such, they only use them as peripheral additions to their written content. In this year, though, that trend is set to change as several new technologies will be introduced while video will outdo written content in various aspects such as effectiveness, reach, engagement and overall ROI. Video apps such as Periscope, Vine, and Snapchat are some of the tools that have enhanced the exposure and expectations of users towards more visual content. And now with Google’s supposed introduction of video ads, a lot more is expected as far as video content usage is concerned. As such, B2C brands that do not adopt this video content strategy might lose big to competition. Of course, B2B brands will be warming up to follow suit although their intake of video content might not be as urgent.

3) Aggregated content will lower reliance on news and event coverage

Twitter has for some time now been experimenting with a new innovative feature known as Moments. Through this feature, users can access aggregated videos, posts, and images of unfolding news stories and live events from a single channel. Simply put, users will now be able to compile whatever content they have for others to see firsthand as it unfolds. While this is a new feature on Twitter, the concept is not completely new as advanced algorithms are already doing the same, albeit involving a compilation of news stories from various sources that already have related pre-existing information. As a result, 2016 seems to become a year when content marketing will become open for everyone. This means that tutorial and opinion-editorial content will become more important for search visibility.

4) Digital assistants will have more influence on search queries

With digital assistants sending more and more queries to modern search engines, the common searches continue to grow more complex (think of Siri, Google Now and Cortana). Long-tail keyword queries especially those that mimic spoken dialogue are expected to replace the existing typed queries. As a result, sites that contain colloquial, conversation content might benefit more from these changes.

5) Google (and other SERPs) will give more recognition to social content

Google has already began indexing Facebook and Twitter content which means you’re likely to bump on a tweet or a Facebook post in your mobile search result. This shows that social content is increasingly gaining recognition and could soon be regarded just as important as any other content such as those from independent web pages.

6) Deep links in apps will become more significant

For quite a while now, Google has been indexing apps. This is part of their long-term plan as they consider apps to occupy the position of traditional websites as the future most popular and functional platforms. In 2016, deep links to apps (links that direct users to a particular section of an app or page) will become more important, just like their counterparts on the web. For this reason, having an app for your business (or simply listing your business on several apps) may mean a boost in your SEO.

7) Local searches are set to become even more specific

Looking at some of the developments that occurred in 2015 such as the introduction of wearable devices (such as Apple Watch) and a more sophisticated local indexing by Google, it’s certain that local searches are set to get even more local (specific). This means that business rankings could soon rely on more specific identifications such as neighborhoods or street corners.

2016 Search Engine Optimization Conclusion

With the landscape of SEO changing daily and the 7 trends listed above thought to cause the biggest impact, it’s time to look at your current SEO strategy and make changes accordingly.  Google, like Facebook, have changed the results to skew towards the “pay to play” game for businesses and are furthering their algorithms to incorporate “user intent” vs. who has the most backlinks for any given keyword.  A change in your SEO strategy to incorporate relevant content on a regular basis will be key toward your ranking success; among other factors (the 7 identified above).

Nonetheless, 2016 promises to be an exciting year for search marketers and thus worth looking forward to. If you need help or want to look into Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing as a service for you or your company please contact us at 402.620.2633 or at https://www.92west.com/contact/request-a-proposal today!

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Create a Winning Brand in 5 Steps

A brand is without doubt one of the most prized assets any organization, regardless of its size, can boast of. It’s, therefore, unfortunate to see some businesses overlooking the strategic and systematic position of their brand when formulating their business strategy. As such, a large number of organizations today fail to leverage the influence a brand can have on their business success.

Why should you invest in developing a solid brand?

  • It boosts your authority in your market. This way, your customers can rely more on you when making their purchasing decisions. This gives you an edge over your competition.
  • Having a strong brand makes you indispensable to your customers making it easy for them to always turn to your business whenever they need a product/service you offer. As such, it promotes customer loyalty which is important in hastening business growth while also shortening sales cycles.
  • With a strong brand, your organization will easily lure and retain the best talents the market has to offer.

While a branding and brand management takes quite some time to develop, strong brands tend to be sustainable once stable. For you to create a brand that realizes your company’s utmost potential, you’ll need to conduct a thorough research on what works best for your business.

Here are five essential steps to follow when creating a brand that benefits your organization.

Step 1: Begin with a clear strategy

Brand Strategy

As mentioned earlier, your brand defines your organizational success which, therefore, means any brand strategy you formulate should complement the overall business strategy. This way, you’ll realize that creating a brand and all that appertains it becomes a natural process for you.

Stakeholders’ Tasks:

What are your strengths? It’s a no-brainer that being a jack of all trades doesn’t pay in the end and thus trying to focus on a position that appeals to the right people will be your surest best if you’re to succeed in creating your brand. Understand your key competencies and subsequently create your brand and marketing strategy around them.

Step 2: Focus on only the relevant audience

Brand Strategy

Narrow down your audience and only work to build stronger connections and more meaningful conversations with only the relevant audiences. Be keen to understand their particular needs and motivations.

Stakeholders’ Tasks:

Is your brand reaching the right audience and does it appeal to them? Is your message too broad for your targeted audience? This way, you can understand your audience’s ideal solutions and subsequently convince them that your product/service offers the perfect solution to their needs. You can then build your message around the same.

Step 3: Create a solid brand platform

Brand Strategy

An ideal brand platform should clearly describe your brand’s personality, what it represents, its unique position as well as how you’d want your audience to perceive it. As such, it should include;

  • Brand Promise
    This is the pledge you make to your customers on what they should expect when doing business with you.
  • Brand value
    These entails the codes of conduct your brand observes each day. As such, all decisions in your business need to align to these values.
  • Brand personality
    These are the unique characteristics that audiences use to define your brand. Brand personality is, therefore, vital to building lasting relationship between your organization and its audiences.
  • Brand positioning
    For your audience to develop an attachment to your brand, you first need to understand what motivates them to take action. With brand positioning, therefore, you have to communicate and convince your targeted audience that your brand is superior to all others and that it can satisfy their needs perfectly.

Stakeholders’ Tasks:

Are you making the right promises to your audiences? Are your positioning your brand in that it stands out from the competition? Are your values and personality contributing positively towards growing customer loyalty and lasting relationships?

Step 4: Develop a compelling brand story

Brand Strategy

Everyone fancies good stories. This is because good stories tend to be inspiring, entertaining and most importantly human. In business, good stories are vital in connecting people to others as well as organization to customers.

Stakeholders’ Tasks:

Every organization has its own distinctive story that describes what it is, what it does, and why it matters. So, what’s your culture? What compels your customers and employees alike to come to you and stay? What’s your story?

Step 5: Create a matchless brand experience

Brand Strategy

Your brand offers your audiences an opportunity to experience your business. This, therefore, means that with a strong brand, your business can quickly leave a positive impression that lasts. This helps to create a particular positive perception of your brand by your audiences that enhances your organization’s reputation.

Stakeholders’ Tasks:

Have you tried experiencing your brand firsthand? Well, get a users’ end experience of your website, your reception area, your marketing collateral and even your outgoing mail message. What’s your experience? Impressive? Motivating? Disappointing?

Ready to create a brand?

As you can see, creating a brand involves a considerable amount of time and effort, which is something you, just like most others, may find overwhelming. Fortunately, you have the professionals at 92 West to guide you through the whole process and ensure that you build a truly relevant and compelling brand in your niche. We’ll make all the necessary connections and leverage your customers’ insights to help you identify various unmet needs. This way, we’ll help you define a unique brand that transforms your organization. Contact us today for more assistance.

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Omaha’s Best Web Design Company is Moving Downtown

We have had an amazing time in our Millard office this past five years (and we will miss everyone at 13504), but it’s time to evolve to the next step in 92 West’s growth.

New Office Features

  1. Most notably, the new office features a full photo / video studio which will allow us to completely service our client’s onsite!
  2. We’ll also have a much larger conference room
  3. Cool commons area if you just want to stop in and “kick it”
  4. A wonderful kitchenette for networking and of course an open house (coming soon).
  5. Additionally, we’ll now have an internet connection which allows us to upload files at a whopping 500 MBS! So… our 2 Gig trade show and video files will move lighting quick!.

Office Location

Moving is always an undertaking and we’ll be gradually moving into our new spot with our first day scheduled for the start of the year! Please feel free to drop in and see our new digs in January at 2626 Harney Street, Suite D, Omaha, NE 68131.

92 West
We’re in the Ideas Business!

2626 Harney Street
Suite D
Omaha, NE 68131

Branding
https://www.92west.com/services/branding

Digital Marketing
https://www.92west.com/services/digital-marketing

Web Design
https://www.92west.com/services/web-design

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
https://www.92west.com/services/search-engine-optimization

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The 4 Fundamental Steps of Conversion Optimization

Once upon a time, I was sitting in my office looking over data for one our new clients and reviewing the conversion project roadmap. The phone rang and on the other end was the VP of marketing for a multi-billion-dollar company. It is very unusual to get an unannounced call from someone at his level, but he had an urgent problem to solve. A good number of his website visitors were not converting.

His problem did not surprise me. We deal with conversion rates optimization every day.

He invited me to meet with his team to discuss the problem further. The account would be a huge win for Invesp, so we agreed on a time that worked for both us. When the day came, our team went to the company’s location.

We started the discussion, and things did NOT go as I expected. The VP, who led the meeting, said, “we have a conversion problem.”

“First-time visitors to our website convert at a rate of 48%. Repeat visitors convert at 80%!”

I was puzzled.

Not sure what exactly puzzled me. Was it the high conversion numbers or was it the fact that the VP was not happy with them. He wanted more.

I thought he had his conversion numbers wrong. But nope. We looked at his analytics, and he was correct. The numbers were simply amazing by all standards. The VP, however, had a different mindset. The company runs thousands of stores around the US. When someone picks up the phone and calls them, they convert callers at a 90% rate. He was expecting the same conversion rate for his online store.

Let’s face it. A typical e-commerce store converts at an average of 3%. Few websites are able to get to anywhere from 10 to 18%. These are considered the stars of the world of conversion rates.

The sad truth about a website with 15% conversion rate is that 85% of the visitors simply leave without converting. Money left on the table, cash the store will not be able to capture. Whatever way you think about it, we can agree that there is a huge opportunity, but it is also a very difficult one to conquer.

The Problem with Conversion Optimization

Most companies jump into conversion optimization with a lot of excitement. As you talk to teams conducting conversion optimization, you notice a common thread. They take different pages of the website and run tests on them. Some tests produce results; others do not. After a while, the teams run out of ideas. The managers run out of excitement.

The approach of randomly running tests on different pages sees conversion rate optimization in a linear fashion. The real problem is that no one shops online in a linear fashion. We do not follow a linear path when we navigate from one area of the website to the next. Humans most of the time are random, or, at least, they appear random.

What does that mean?

The right approach to increase conversion rates needs to be systematical, because it deals with irrational and random human behavior.

So, how do you do this?

The Four Steps to Breaking to Double Digits Conversion Rates

After ten years of doing conversion optimization at Invesp, I can claim that we have a process that works for many online businesses. The truth is that it continues to be a work in progress.

These are the four steps you should follow to achieve your desired conversion rate:

Create Personas for Your Website

I could never stop talking about personas and the impact they have on your website. While most companies talk about their target market, personas help you translate your generalized and somewhat abstract target market data into a personalized experience that impacts your website design, copy and layout.

Let’s take the example of a consulting company that targets “e-commerce companies with a revenue of 10 million dollars or more.” There are two problems with this statement:

  • The statement is too general about the target market (no verticals and no geography, for example)
  • I am not sure how to translate this statement into actionable items on my website or marketing activity

You should first think about the actual person who would hire the services of this consulting company. Most likely, the sales take place to:

  • A business owner for a company with annual revenue from 10 to 20 million dollars.
  • A marketing director for a company with annual revenue from 20 to 50 million dollars.
  • A VP of marketing for a company with annual revenue over 50 million dollars.

Now, translate each of these three different cases into a persona.

So, instead of talking about a business owner for a company that is generating annual revenue from 10 to 20 million dollars, we will talk about:

John Riley, 43 years old, completed his B.A. in physics from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is a happy father of three. He started the company in 2007 and financed it from his own pocket. His company generated 13.5 million dollars of revenue in 2014 and expects to see a modest 7% increase in sales in 2015. John is highly competitive, but he also cares about his customers and thinks of them as an extended family. He would like to find a way to increase this year’s revenue by 18%, but he is not sure how to do so. He is conservative when it comes to using new marketing techniques. In general, John does not trust consultants and thinks of them as overpaid.

This is an oversimplification of the persona creation process and its final product. But you get the picture. If you are the consulting company that targets John, then what type of website design, copy and visitor flow would you use to persuade him to do business with you?

What data points do you use to create personas for your website? I would start with this:

  • Market research
  • Demographical studies
  • Usability studies
  • Zip code analysis
  • Existing customer surveys
  • Competitive landscape
  • AB and Multivariate testing data

A website or a business should typically target four to seven personas.

Add Traffic Sources

So, you have the personas. These personas should impact your design, copy and visitor flow.

But how?

Let’s start by looking at analytics data. Look for a period of six months to one year and see the top traffic sources/mediums. If your website has been online for a while, then you will probably have hundreds of different sources. Start with your top 10 traffic sources/medium and create a matrix for each of the personas/traffic source/landing pages:

Now, your job is to evaluate each top landing page for each traffic source through the eyes of your website personas. For each page, you will answer eight questions.

The persona questions: Eight questions to ask

  • What type of information would persona “x” need to see to click on to the next page on the website?
  • What would be the top concerns persona “x” have looking at the page?
  • What kind of copy does persona “x” need to see?
  • What type of trigger words are important to include on the page for persona “x”?
  • What words should I avoid for persona “x”?
  • What kind of headline should I use to persuade persona “x” to stay on my website?
  • What kind of images should I use to capture persona “x” attention?
  • What elements on the page could distract persona “x”?

As you answer these questions for each of the personas, you will end up with a large set of answers and actions. The challenge and the art will be to combine all these and make the same landing page work for all different personas. This is not a small task, but this is where the fun begins.

Consider the Buying Stages 

You thought the previous work was complex? Well, you haven’t seen anything just yet!

Not every visitor who lands on your website is ready to buy. Visitors come to your website in different buying stages, and only 15-20% are in the action stage. The sequential buying stages of a visitor are:

  • Awareness stage (top of the sales funnel)
  • Research stage
  • Evaluating alternatives
  • Action stage
  • Post action

A typical buying funnel looks like this:

How does that translate into actionable items on your website?

In the previous exercise, we created a list of changes on different screens or sections of your website based on the different personas. Now, we are going to think about each persona landing on the website in one of the first four buying stages.

Instead of thinking of how to adjust a particular screen for John Riley, now you think of a new scenario:
Persona “x” is in the “evaluating alternatives” stage of the buying funnel. He lands on a particular landing page. What do I need to adjust in the website design and copy to persuade persona “x” to convert?

Our previous table looks like this now:

Next, answer all eight persona-questions again, based on the different buying stages.

Test your different scenarios

This goes without saying; you should NEVER introduce changes to your website without actually testing them. You can find plenty of blogs and books out there on how to conduct testing correctly if you are interested in learning more about AB testing and multivariate testing.

For a start, keep the five No’s of AB testing in mind:

1. No to “Large and complex tests”

Your goal is NOT to conduct large AB or multivariate tests. Your goal is to discover what elements on the page cause visitors to act a specific way. Break complex tests into smaller ones. The more you can isolate the changes to one or two elements, the easier it will be to understand the impact of different design and copy elements on visitors’ actions.

2. No to “Tests without a hypothesis”

I can never say it enough. A test without a good hypothesis is a gambling exercise. A hypothesis is a predictive statement about a problem or set of problems on your page and the impact of solving these problems on visitor behavior.

3. No to “Polluted data”

Do not run tests for less than seven days or longer than four weeks. In both scenarios, you are leaving yourself open to the chance of inconsistent and polluted data. When you run a test for less than seven days, website data inconsistencies you are not aware of may affect your results. So, give the test results a chance to stabilize. If you run a test for more than four weeks, you are allowing external factors to have a larger impact on your results.

4. No to “Quick fixes”

Human psychology is complex. Conversion optimization is about understanding visitor behavior and adjusting website design, copy and process to persuade these visitors to convert. Conversion optimization is not a light switch you turn on and off. It is a long-term commitment. Some tests will produce results and some will not. Increases in conversion rates are great but what you are looking for is a window to visitor behavior.

5. No to “Tests without marketing insights”

Call it whatever you like: forensic analysis, posttest analysis, test results assessment. You should learn actionable marketing insights from the test to deploy across channels and verticals. The real power of any testing program lays beyond the results.

If you follow the steps outlined in this blog, you will have a lot to do.

So, happy testing!

About the author: This guide was written by Khalid Saleh. He is the CEO of Invesp, a conversion optimization software and services firm with clients in 11 different countries.

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Restoring Firefox Extensions After The Firefox 43 Update

Update: Our extensions are now signed, so you should be able to download the most recent version of them & use them with the most recent version of Firefox without having to mess with the Firefox plugin option security settings.

Firefox recently updated to version 43 & with that, they automatically disabled all extensions which are not signed, even if they were previously installed by a user and used for years.

If you go to the add ons screen after the update (by typing about:addons in the address bar) you will see a screen like this

Extensions which are submitted to the Mozilla Firefox add ons directory are automatically signed when approved, but other extensions are not by default:

Only Mozilla can sign your add-on so that Firefox will install it by default. Add-ons are signed by submitting them to AMO or using the API and passing either an automated or manual code review. Note that you are not required to list or distribute your add-on through AMO. If you are distributing the add-on on your own, you can choose the Unlisted option and AMO will only serve as the way to get your package signed.

In a couple days we will do that submission to get the add ons signed, but if you recently had the extensions go away it is fairly easy to override this signing feature to get the extensions back working right away.

If you recently saw rank checker, SEO for Firefox or the SEO toolbar disabled after a recent Mozilla Firefox update, here is how to restore them…

Step 1: go to the Firefox settings configuration section

Type about:config into the address bar & hit enter. Once that page loads click on the “I’ll be careful, I promise” button.

Step 2: edit the signing configuration

Once the configuration box loads you’ll see a bunch of different listed variables in it & a search box at the top. In that search box, enter
xpinstall.signatures.required

By default xpinstall.signatures.required is set to TRUE to force add ons to be signed. Click on it until it goes to bold, which indicates that the TRUE setting is set to FALSE.

Step 3: restart Firefox

After changing the add on signature settings, restart Firefox to apply the setting & your Firefox extensions will be restored.

Installing These Extensions On a New Computer

If you are having trouble setting up your extensions on a new computer, start with the above 3 steps & then go here to download & install the extensions.

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Publisher Blocking: How the Web Was Lost

Streaming Apps


Google recently announced app streaming, where they can showcase & deep link into apps in the search results even if users do not have those apps installed. How it works is rather than users installing the app, Google has the app installed on a computer in their cloud & then shows users a video of the app. Click targets, ads, etc. remain the same.

In writing about the new feature, Danny Sullivan wrote a section on “How The Web Could Have Been Lost”

Imagine if, in order to use the web, you had to download an app for each website you wanted to visit. To find news from the New York Times, you had to install an app that let you access the site through your web browser. To purchase from Amazon, you first needed to install an Amazon app for your browser. To share on Facebook, installation of the Facebook app for your browser would be required. That would be a nightmare.

The web put an end to this. More specifically, the web browser did. The web browser became a universal app that let anyone open anything on the web.

To meaningfully participate on those sorts of sites you still need an account. You are not going to be able to buy on Amazon without registration. Any popular social network which allows third party IDs to take the place of first party IDs will quickly become a den of spam until they close that loophole.

In short, you still have to register with sites to get real value out of them if you are doing much beyond reading an article. Without registration it is hard for them to personalize your experience & recommend relevant content.

Desktop Friendly Design

App indexing & deep linking of apps is a step in the opposite direction of the open web. It is supporting proprietary non-web channels which don’t link out. Further, if you thought keyword (not provided) heavily obfuscated user data, how much will data be obfuscated if the user isn’t even using your site or app, but rather is interacting via a Google cloud computer?

  • Who visited your app? Not sure. It was a Google cloud computer.
  • Where were they located? Not sure. It was a Google cloud computer.
  • Did they have problems using your app? Not sure. It was a Google cloud computer.
  • What did they look at? Can you retarget them? Not sure. It was a Google cloud computer.

Is an app maker too lazy to create a web equivalent version of their content? If so, let them be at a strategic disadvantage to everyone who put in the extra effort to publish their content online.

If Google has their remote quality raters consider a site as not meeting users needs because they don’t publish a “mobile friendly” version of their site, how can one consider a publisher who creates “app only” content as an entity which is trying hard to meet end user needs?

We know Google hates app install interstitials (unless they are sold by Google), thus the only reason Google would have for wanting to promote these sorts of services would be to justify owning, controlling & monetizing the user experience.

App-solutely Not The Answer


Apps are sold as a way to lower channel risk & gain direct access to users, but the companies owning the app stores are firmly in control.

Everyone wants to “own” the user, but none of the platforms bother to ask if the user wants to be owned:

We’re rapidly moving from an internet where computers are ‘peers’ (equals) to one where there are consumers and ‘data owners’, silos of end user data that work as hard as they can to stop you from communicating with other, similar silos.

If the current trend persists we’re heading straight for AOL 2.0, only now with a slick user interface, a couple more features and more users.

You’ve Got AOL

The AOL analogy is widely used:

Katz of Gogobot says that “SEO is a dying field” as Google uses its “monopoly” power to turn the field of search into Google’s own walled garden like AOL did in the age of dial-up modems.

Almost 4 years ago a Google engineer described SEO as a bug. He suggested one shouldn’t be able to rank highly without paying.

It looks like he was right. Google’s aggressive ad placement on mobile SERPs “has broken the will of users who would have clicked on an organic link if they could find one at the top of the page but are instead just clicking ads because they don’t want to scroll down.”

In the years since then we’ve learned Google’s “algorithm” has concurrent ranking signals & other forms of home cooking which guarantees success for Google’s vertical search offerings. The “reasonable” barrier to entry which applies to third parties does not apply to any new Google offerings.

And “bugs” keep appearing in those “algorithms,” which deliver a steady stream of harm to competing businesses.

From Indy to Brand

The waves of algorithm updates have in effect increased the barrier to entry, along with the cost needed to maintain rankings. The stresses and financial impacts that puts on small businesses makes many of them not worth running. Look no further than MetaFilter’s founder seeing a psychologist, then quitting because he couldn’t handle the process.

When Google engineers are not focused on “breaking spirits” they emphasize the importance of happiness.

The ecosystem instability has made smaller sites effectively disappear while delivering a bland and soulless result set which is heavy on brand:

there’s no reason why the internet couldn’t keep on its present course for years to come. Under those circumstances, it would shed most of the features that make it popular with today’s avant-garde, and become one more centralized, regulated, vacuous mass medium, packed to the bursting point with corporate advertising and lowest-common-denominator content, with dissenting voices and alternative culture shut out or shoved into corners where nobody ever looks. That’s the normal trajectory of an information technology in today’s industrial civilization, after all; it’s what happened with radio and television in their day, as the gaudy and grandiose claims of the early years gave way to the crass commercial realities of the mature forms of each medium.

If you participate on the web daily, the change washes over you slowly, and the cumulative effects can be imperceptible. But if you were locked in an Iranian jail for years the change is hard to miss.

These sorts of problems not only impact search, but have an impact on all the major tech channels.

If you live in Goole, these issues strike close to home.

And there are almost no counter-forces to the well established trend:

Eventually they might even symbolically close their websites, finishing the job they started when they all stopped paying attention to what their front pages looked like. Then, they will do a whole lot of what they already do, according to the demands of their new venues. They will report news and tell stories and post garbage and make mistakes. They will be given new metrics that are both more shallow and more urgent than ever before; they will adapt to them, all the while avoiding, as is tradition, honest discussions about the relationship between success and quality and self-respect.

If in five years I’m just watching NFL-endorsed ESPN clips through a syndication deal with a messaging app, and Vice is just an age-skewed Viacom with better audience data, and I’m looking up the same trivia on Genius instead of Wikipedia, and “publications” are just content agencies that solve temporary optimization issues for much larger platforms, what will have been point of the last twenty years of creating things for the web?

A Deal With the Devil

As ad blocking has grown more pervasive, some publishers believe the solution to the problem is through gaining distribution through the channels which are exempt from the impacts of ad blocking. However those channels have no incentive to offer exceptional payouts. They make more by showing fewer ads within featured content from partners (where they must share ad revenues) and showing more ads elsewhere (where they keep all the ad revenues).

So far publishers have been underwhelmed with both Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. The former for stringent ad restrictions, and the latter for providing limited user data. Google Now is also increasing the number of news stories they show. And next year Google will roll out their accelerated mobile pages offering.

The problem is if you don’t control the publishing you don’t control the monetization and you don’t control the data flow.

Your website helps make the knowledge graph (and other forms of vertical search) possible. But you are paid nothing when your content appears in the knowledge graph. And the knowledge graph now has a number of ad units embedded in it.

A decade ago, when Google pushed autolink to automatically insert links in publisher’s content, webmasters had enough leverage to “just say no.” But now? Not so much. Google considers in-text ad networks spam & embeds their own search in third party apps. As the terms of deals change, and what is considered “best for users” changes, content creators quietly accept, or quit.

Many video sites lost their rich snippets, while YouTube got larger snippets in the search results. Google pays YouTube content creators a far lower revenue share than even the default AdSense agreement offers. And those creators have restrictions which prevent them from using some forms of monetization while forces them to accept other types of bundling.

The most recent leaked Google rater documents suggested the justification for featured answers was to make mobile search quick, but if that were the extent of it then it still doesn’t explain why they also appear on desktop search results. It also doesn’t explain why the publisher credit links were originally a light gray.

With Google everything comes down to speed, speed, speed. But then they offer interstitial ad units, lock content behind surveys, and transform the user intent behind queries in a way that leads them astray.

As Google obfuscates more data & increasingly redirects and monetizes user intent, they promise to offer advertisers better integration of online to offline conversion data.

At the same time, as Google “speeds up” your site for you, they may break it with GoogleWebLight.

If you don’t host & control the user experience you are at the whim of (at best, morally agnostic) self-serving platforms which could care less if any individual publication dies.

It’s White Hat or Bust…


What was that old white hat SEO adage? I forget the precise wording, but I think it went something like…

Don’t buy links, it is too risky & too uncertain. Guarantee strong returns like Google does, by investing directly into undermining the political process by hiring lobbyists, heavy political donations, skirting political donation rules, regularly setting policy, inserting your agents in government, and sponsoring bogus “academic research” without disclosing the payments.

Focus on the user. Put them first. Right behind money.

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92 West: An Omaha, Nebraska Based Advertising, Marketing and Web Design Agency

We are a branding, digital marketing and web design agency focused on helping brands discover their true voice.

A Team of Advertising, Marketing and Design Professionals

92 West is a close team of creative professionals based out of Omaha, Nebraska and was started by two brothers in the Summer of 2000. We are parents, gamers, runners, gardeners, fitness enthusiasts, friends, jokesters and more. We are specialists, not generalists. Our people are driven to deliver quality and honesty while partnering with good people and organizations to produce exceptional work that betters the world around us.

Our Advertising, Marketing, Strategy and Design Services

92 West | Branding, Digital Marketing, Logo Design, Graphic Design, Web Design, SEO, Mobile Application Development

We’re in the Ideas Business

Our passion is in the creation and development of inspiring ideas that will make your business successful. We use an array of innovative tools to understand your objectives, gain insights, and create ideas that bring brands to life. Our core services fall into three major groupings; branding, digital marketing and web design.

If you have a new idea or project you want to explore, you have come to the right place. Let’s Talk.

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Happy Veteran’s Day

Thank you to all the veterans who have fought for our freedom. We wish you all the best on this day as well as the next 364!

Action is Needed:

Want to truly show your support?  Donate to a charity that specifically helps Veterans.  Every dollar helps and it can be as simple as giving the money you would have otherwise spent on an energy drink or your favorite coffee house.  There are many charities out there, but here is a small list below that are dear to our hearts at 92 West.

Wounded Warriors Family Support
https://www.wwfs.org

Gary Sinise Foundation
https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/

USO
http://www.uso.org/donate

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Logo Design General Questionnaire

Omaha Logo Design

At 92 West, when we take on a new client (or even an existing one), we have a general questionnaire that we walk each client through to help us acquire the essential information to get our team on the right track.  The questions below help us craft the appropriate approach to layout / design / complete a client’s vision; which helps us build long lasting relationships.  

Corporate / Company Related Details

The questions below incorporate the information that you’ll need to understand the basics of their industry and the core reasons for the project.

  1. What is the background / history of the company?
    (If new, why was your firm founded and what is the motivation behind the creation of the business?)
  2. How would you describe your services and/or products?
  3. Why should a customer choose your firm over another?
  4. What are the long term goals of your company?
  5. Who are your main competitors?

 Branding: The Brand is More than It’s Logo

When designing a logo, you are not simply developing a logo… more over you are creating an identity that will extend into a company’s branding.  

  1. What adjectives should describe your business? Why?
  2. If your customers had to describe your company in one word, what would it be? Why?
  3. Do you have a current identity / logo?
    (If yes, then what elements, if any, would you like to retain? Also, ask why a change is needed.)
  4. Does your company have a tagline or slogan that should be in consideration as a design element?
    (The answer should be yes… if they don’t have one, I’d recommend having them come up with a three (3) to seven (7) word statement that correlates with their adjectives.)
  5. What font type preference (serif or sans-serif, script, bold, light, hand drawn, custom lettering), specific fonts, and colors would you like to use (or currently use.). Also, what font types, specific fonts or colors do you not want to use?

Project Related: Design

  1. Where will the logo be primarily used?
    (Building Signage, Stationary, Business Cards, Vehicles, Website, Social Media etc.)
  2. Do you have any specific imagery in mind for your logo?
    (icon, illustration, character, text, a mix etc.)
  3. What logos do you like? Why?
  4. What logos do you dislike? Why?
  5. (Please note that sometimes a client will love a logo and use that as a reference while it also contains elements of logos they dislike… explore it further if this happens.)
  6. What is the exact wording you would like to use in the logo?

Project Related: Demographics

  1. Demographics are key factors in deciding what and who you are design the logo for.  Focus on what appeals to the audience that is most likely to be interested in what the client is selling / producing.
  2. Who is your perfect client?
    (Everybody is not the answer… Look for age, race, sex, income, location, interests, job… look for their niche.)
  3. Who currently uses your product(s) or competitors product(s)?
  4. Are the customers you want today the customers you’ll want in 5 to 10 years?

Budget and Delivery Timing

Not all designs take the same time to deliver and dealing with an individual vs. decision by committee can greatly influence how much time it will take to bring the project to a finished state.  Typically, by the time we have a client in our office and we’ve discussed the budget and it’s a known variable… but if you don’t know… find out.

  1. Budget for the logo?
    (The budget will dictate what you can do… once you know that you can give a range of concepts, logo type (remember illustrations take a bit of time), revisions and when the finished design / corresponding branding guide will be delivered.)
  2. When do you need the final version(s)?
    (Sometimes the process only takes a few days and others require multiple meetings. Budget and schedule according to the client’s needs… most importantly… keep the schedule.  If the client gets off track then you have to let them know if it influences delivery… likewise… if items are out-of-scope… you need to let them know.  In the end, great communication will define how the project goes.)

Need a logo design or brand refresh? 92 West can help!

At 92 West, we do more than just deliver the logo; we deliver a solid start to a brand and can help any client develop that brand into a winning component of their marketing strategy. Be it graphic design, printing, media placement, digital marketing, web design, seo or sem… we have you covered.

Looking to create a logo? Contact 92 West at 402.620.2633 or request a quote today!

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Marketing Trends for 2016

Changes in Technology and attitudes are without doubt two of the key factors that shape marketing. The impact of the rapidly changing technology is particularly more intense in digital marketing, which makes it more difficult for a majority of brands today to keep up with the resulting changes.

What message does this send to competitive marketers that are already eyeing 2016? Well, it’s that time when brands need to get a little more creative with the kind of channels they choose for their marketing pursuits. In this post, we’ll look at some of the notable marketing trends that marketers should consider in their plans for 2016.

1. Relationship Marketing

The primary goal of relationship marketing is to help a brand develop lasting relationships and more loyalty amongst its customers rather than just focusing on short-term customer acquisition and making individual sales. With this, firms can develop stronger customer connections to their brands which in turn boosts the much-needed word of mouth promotions and organic lead generation. This, therefore, means that companies that focus on creating meaningful customer relationships and conversions easily develops brand advocates and loyalists.

So, how can a company personalize its outreach efforts to build better customer relationships? First, it’s easier than ever to obtain data that can help you develop sounder relationship-marketing plans. On the contrary, firms that still rely on the intrusive, mass-target approaches to their marketing pursuits are courting failure especially now that consumers are increasingly becoming selective in what they want to read or view. As such, it is also important for companies to maintain transparency between them and their consumers and target to build lasting relationships with them.

2. Automation of the Marketing Process

Did you know that marketing automation industry alone is worth $5.5 Billion? Well, this is a clear indication of how important the process has become to brands. Besides, it is also the leading method used in lead generations and prospect nurturing. Automating marketing makes it easier for marketers to schedule and automate various tasks such as social media posting, email management, content management, tracking different customers’ activities, etc. With this kind of automation, your business also highlights its growth of convergence that allows you to stay focused and profitable without compromising on quality.

Marketing managers and CMOs in any firm should, therefore, define a robust automation strategy that focuses on engaging prospects and shortening the overall sales cycle.

3. Location-Based Marketing Technology

Location-based technology is popularly used by event professionals and marketers to create interactive experiences and engage target users at a particular point. Today, various technologies such as iBeacons and RFIDs have made the process possible. iBeacons are small electronic transmitters with a capacity to detect nearby compatible devices using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. They can be used in merchandising areas, points of sales displays and retail stores.

Besides, iBeacons can also be used in events and conferences for attendees’ engagement such as in talks and exchanges sessions. The technology can also be integrated with platforms such as LinkedIn to connect participants and facilitate sharing of messages, which helps to curb delayed communication that is common with emails.

On the other hand, Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) are tiny electronic devices with chips and an antenna that facilitate the devices’ unique identification. RFIDs can be used by attendees in an event for communication and general engagements. Besides, event organizers and even brands can communicate with their targeted audiences using the technology.

4. Virtual Reality

The use of Virtual Reality Technology is expected to grow and have more impact on marketing in 2016. It is a no brainer that personalization and consumer engagement is now more important in marketing than it has before. With Virtual Reality, companies can engage their customers by offering virtual experiences to them and forming more personal relationships with them.

5. Ephemeral Marketing

The growing popularity of Snapchat is something that should interest any competitive marketer as we approach 2016. Marketers should no longer consider the platform as a tool for making fun marketing experiments. Rather, Snapchat is now already a “standard marketing platform.”

Snapchat has over time matured to become the ultimate marketing platform with popular brands such as ESPN and Comedy Central already using it to market and engage with their audiences. The platform uniquely converts advertisements into products which makes it difficult even for competitors to ignore. For this reason, it is vital for you as a marketer to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity and begin nurturing your audience on Snapchat come 2016.

6. Search Beyond SERPs

The number of search engines keeps growing each day with Facebook becoming the latest to show an intent to join this family comprising of Google, Yahoo and Bing. This opens a room for brands to make the best out of such search capabilities once they are introduced in social media platforms. Besides, the introduction of the buy buttons on social media platforms that is expected to take place in 2016 will help promote more convergence thereby making marketing easier.

In a nutshell, the introduction of advanced search capabilities and integration of payment methods on popular social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook will help to boost purchasing and ease marketing. Good marketers should, therefore, set sights on these expected developments to ensure that they take advantage of them in 2016.

7. The Internet of Things (IoT)

Wearable technology is predicted to see a significant popularity growth in 2016 with its adoption rate set to reach 28% by the year end. This translates to more available data for use by marketers as the Internet of Things continues to grow even bigger as a tool that marketers can use to engage and interact with prospects.

This shift in the manner in which marketers can source relevant information from their target groups will likely influence the ad creation process in 2016. This is because data collected from these consumers will be assumed to be behavior-driven and, therefore, representing their needs and preferences. This will make marketing increasingly accurate and more likely efficient.

92 West’s Conclusion for 2016

There you have it. The 7 key game-changing trends every marketer should consider when crafting their 2016 marketing plans. By the time 2017 comes knocking, we will already have made our observation and analysis, and as usual, provide you with the latest tricks for use in that year as well. 

Need Help? Great!  We are a Proven Digital Marketing Firm.

We have been doing this for years now and have a proven track record to show for it. So, if you’re facing any challenges in your marketing or any other related area, talk to us.  We are happy to help; even if you decide to go with someone else… we’d rather have you geared up with knowledge to make the best decision than go it alone.

At 92 West, we are determined to help you reach your traditional marketing and digital marketing goals. Let 92 West help you throughout 2016 and see your business goals succeed. Contact us today for more information.

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Digital Marketing with Creative Content in Mind

We all have heard this mantra before- right time, right person, right place and right message- but what exactly does “right message” in this statement mean? Well, with the ad industry increasingly shifting its focus to the more scientific capabilities of techniques such as audience segmenting, precise targeting and ad buying, the main casualty in the equation is certainly the ad creative aspect. But is it really possible for advertising campaigns to achieve maximum output where a particular brand has millions of prospects yet inadequate creative to match each of these prospects?

It’s time for real marketers to focus on building better relationships with consumers. In this digital age, users switch between their screens and devices and use smartphones both for communication and consumption. Besides, these users are increasingly viewing more videos with each passing day. The extended exposure to all these platforms and devices has forced a majority of them to selectively decide what to view and what not to see. For this reason, more users are using ad blockers to block ads, skipping the typical pre-roll videos or even hitting that “close” button.

So, why are they resorting to this? It’s simple. Most of these ads are irrelevant, uninteresting or not personal. On a smart counterattack, though, the industry has attempted to increase viewability by using tactics such as integrating native ads that are not easy to block.

However, consider this other alternative. Our proposal for an ideal digital strategy is that marketers ought to rely more on the data on the users available to them, which they can then use to evolve their approach with creative. This way, it’s possible to understand more about what these users like and what they don’t like.

Personalized Experiences to Get Real Results

What can help to make your marketing pursuits stand out when a majority of industries are pushing bulk ads? Well, personalization is your surest bet here. At 92 West for example, we utilize personalized messaging to ensure that our experience, that of our clients, in-house, digital and even in-store experiences are all in one sync. This helps to improve our interactions with all contacts involved thereby making the process more appealing to them on an individual level.

Creating personalized experiences is becoming increasingly important by the day especially now the world is rapidly turning digital. This has been prompted by the growing consumer’s dissatisfaction with generic marketing messages or canned email campaigns. Instead, a lot of these users want to connect with the particular brands on a more personal level.

It is now upon the marketers to provide unique personalized messages by using consumer intelligence that’s readily available to them. In a study conducted by McKinsey, it was found that a company’s digital marketing and sales initiative is capable of improving its ROI by more than 20% if only it puts more emphasis on data-driven personalization.

For a brand to enjoy more loyalty and awareness, it has to concentrate more on meeting its consumers’ expectations such as authenticity, contextual relevance, and reliability. It is, therefore, easy to tell why advertisers don’t seem to give them the attention they deserve- because typical digital advertising focuses more on delivery and little on creating meaningful moments.

The following are some of the tips that every marketer should use to get a more personal creative.

1. Creative is Crucial: Don’t let it be an Afterthought

It is imperative that marketers reach consumers at the right time and place, but having the right message is also crucial. It is only after these three concepts are aligned together that a particular ad can perform.

This means timing everything out and following up with the contacts when they take certain actions. For example, when a customer abandons his shopping cart, you need to make a follow up by sending them a friendly reminder within 24 hours. Besides, ensure that you monitor all your customers’ actions and their interaction with you. For example, the number of customers that open your emails or visit your twitter page, etc. Most importantly, maintain a humanized brand voice while communicating to/with them. Do not hesitate to ditch that soulless corporate act for a more authentic creative messaging.

2. Focus on the Small (Niche) Data

This could involve collecting data using methods such as self-report surveys that help you understand their preferences. Besides, you can also use progressive profiling where you only ask your customers a few questions every time they interact with your brand. You can then use the collected information to shape your media plans and for creative executions.

3. Personalize on Several Channels

As digital marketers, you can maximize your media exposure by utilizing segmentation with storytelling visuals and by keeping the copy light in the campaign creative. For instance, taking advantage of mobile location and the distance (proximity) as your target demographics are generally on the go. Layer that with unique messaging in the videos which in turn will engage the consumers.

As of right now (2015 for those of you who might stumble upon this later), consumers live in an on-demand world. Every aspect of life is a only a tap away. The most successful marketers are removing barriers (steps) that are required for customers to get what they want (your products / services) quickly. Advertising should remove mass messages and create personalized experiences that change in real time; causing a shift in they way digital marketers plan your strategy as well as how the data and audience segmentation is crafted as well.


Create impactful, meaningful messaging that will cause your demographic to act…. and most important… care.


Conclusion

In today’s on-demand world where customers can get anything done with a tap on their devices, a successful marketer is the one capable of removing deterrents that may be hindering the customer from getting that which they want more speedily. It is, therefore, important that advertisers eliminate the friction caused by mass messaging as well as remove irrelevance. They should consider using more dynamic creative tools that help to change their targeted messages in real time. This way, they can force media strategists to change how they plan their marketing campaigns, utilize data and segment their audiences for more personalized and impact full creative messaging.

At 92 West, we keep each of these items in mind while crafting a message that will impact your consumers. More important, we take all three of the elements mentioned above and create a compelling CTA (Call to Action) that also incorporates an offer that entices the consumer to act…and most importantly… care.

Call us today for a consultation on your branding, digital marketing and web design needs at 402.620.2633.

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