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Inbound Marketing Blog

February 24, 2020

Measure everything.

by Stephan Hokanson

The importance of metrics and looking past the numbers. I’ve gotten the same email every Friday for the last three years and I open it every single time. It’s not even pretty (I love a beautiful email) but I open it and click through. Every. Single. Time.more

January 14, 2020

Five tips on working remotely from an agency that does.

by Stephan Hokanson

Our staff doesn’t come into the office for days at a time, and we’re okay with that. “Work Remote” might be a distant second to “gig economy” as an over-hyped buzzword, but it’s definitely gaining ground. My agency, MINDSCAPE, is a midwest-based digital marketing agency that prides itself on being agile and adaptable, and we’ve been testing the Work Remote model for about a year. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things that could prove useful to other companies or departments who are evaluating remote work.more

November 22, 2019

Minds of MINDSCAPE - Google Tag Manager, What the Heck is it and Why You Need To Know

by MINDSCAPE

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

November 22, 2019

Minds of MINDSCAPE - How to Design a CTA that Converts

by MINDSCAPE

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

November 22, 2019

Minds Of MINDSCAPE - Brand Standards, What to bring to Your Agency

by MINDSCAPE

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

September 4, 2019

Minds of MINDSCAPE - Subfolder vs. Subdomain

by MINDSCAPE

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

February 6, 2019

Podcast Episode 10- Why CRMs Suck

by MINDSCAPE

In our final episode of the season, we get into the debate about CRMs. To start, we answer what is a CRM is and compare it to other methods, discuss the issues or limitations with using a CRM, and what is the best form of a CRM. more

January 30, 2019

Podcast Episode 09- Hate Change? Enjoy Irrelevance

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 9 we get in the weeds on the topic of change and irrelevance. Has the evolution of the business climate created issues for you? We've entered the time where things that once worked back then aren't relevant today, adapting to new changes and accepting help is the only way to succeed moving forward.more

January 23, 2019

Podcast Episode 08- Complexity Budget for Paid

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 8 we highlight the overview of creating a budget for paid advertising and explaining why online advertising is NOT a waste of money. We also explain the process of creating your budget, the methods you use to keep track of them, and determining when to change your budget. more

January 16, 2019

Podcast Episode 07- Page Builders

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 7 we have a featured guest, our very own Matt Brand, Senior Developer at MINDSCAPE. We discuss why page builders aren't always the best idea when creating a new website, such as the differences in limitations between page builders and code and how they are hurtful for your website's data and load time. more

January 9, 2019

Podcast Episode 06- Buyer's Landscape

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 6 we go over what the Buyer's Landscape is, how it has changed from the Baby Boomers to Millenials, how it has changed learning and flexibility policies, sharing your knowledge and adapting to new ways, and risks vs. reward.more

January 2, 2019

Podcast Episode 05- Goal Setting and Knowing the Numbers

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 5 we go over goal setting and the numbers that go along with them. We discuss Goals vs Wishes, how to create smart and measurable goals, what metrics should we put our goals around and how to measure the ROI of a goal. more

December 26, 2018

Podcast Episode 04- Paid Advertising

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 4 we highlight the topic of paid advertising, what are the first steps to take when starting a paid promotion, the warnings of fake companies that promise you quick results to the top page of Google and the difference between paid search vs social. more

December 19, 2018

Podcast Episode 03- Marketing & Sales Alignment

by MINDSCAPE

In Episode 3 we discuss the longtime battle of sales & marketing not working harmoniously, how to inform and educate the sales team on what a good quality lead is to transfer on, and tips to share on how they can work together.more

December 12, 2018

Podcast Episode 02- Old School Sales

by MINDSCAPE

Episode 2 discusses Old School Sales, how back in the say sales consisted of the famous "smile and dial" or going door to door. We go in the weeds about how that doesn't work anymore, due to our ever-changing technology landscape, and what new methods are dominating the field.more

December 5, 2018

Podcast Episode 01- Introduction Episode

by MINDSCAPE

Welcome to the first episode of the In the Weeds Podcast! This episode will give the introduction to the podcast with our CEO & Co-Founder, Pete Brand, and our COO, Jeff Bell. Join us as we discuss the history of MINDSCAPE and what you can expect to hear from our new podcast! more

October 25, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - How to Measure an Awareness Campaign

by Jeff Bell

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

October 11, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 5 Steps to Build a Consistent Stream of New Website Visitors

by Pete Brand

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise.  In this clip, our CEO and Co-Founder, Pete Brand, shares 5 steps you can do to build a consistent stream of new website visitors.more

September 4, 2018

Marketing, sales, and....beer? We call that HubSpot on Tap.

by Ashley Daniels

Save the date! Coming up on October 2nd is a sales and marketing event that you won’t want to miss named HubSpot on Tap! From 3:30 to 6:30pm, we will be serving up some marketing and sales tips and tricks accompanied by craft beer, unique cocktails and delicious food at The Knickerbocker inside New Holland Brewing’s Grand Rapids location.more

August 30, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a CMS

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

July 20, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 5 Signs a Chatbot is Good for Your Brand

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

June 28, 2018

Easy does it: how Sales Enablement helped Babbitt’s sell more with less effort AND improved the experience for their customers.

by Paul Ferrier

If a CRM is hard to use … no-one’s going to use it. Babbitt's Sports Center had a 21st-century business that was hamstrung by some 20th-century processes.more

June 21, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 4 Automation Tools to Streamline Your Digital Marketing Efforts

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

June 7, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - Your Landing Page Doesn't Suck, Your Form Does

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

May 24, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 3 Elements You Need for A Successful Email Campaign

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

May 10, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 6 Tips for Designing a Click - Worthy CTA

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

April 27, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 6 Digital Marketing Acronyms You NEED to Know

by Ashley Daniels

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

April 9, 2018

What GDPR is and why you should care.

by Stephan Hokanson

A few weeks ago, a client (who is far more technologically sophisticated than I am) was talking about GDPR and its impact on their business. Inspired by that conversation, I decided to create a quick overview of GDPR for those of you who, like me, are easily confused by lengthy acronyms. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a strategist and writer, not an attorney with international expertise in data privacy.more

March 29, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - How to Measure the Success of a Marketing Event

by Connor Manion

In our video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

March 27, 2018

Key Takeaways From My HubSpot Sales Services Kickstarter

by Jeff Bell

  Several weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the first ever Sales Services Kickstarter program hosted by HubSpot’s David Weinhaus and Dan Tyre. I have to admit, being an operations guy, I was somewhat hesitant because the last job on the planet I would ever consider myself to be qualified for, would be a sales job (Kudos to all you salespeople!) Nevertheless, my agency founders asked me to lead the initiative to build and grow our Sales Services so I accepted the offer and braced for what I expected to be a bumpy ride! After a five week online course, I’m happy to say that I not only made it through unscathed, I actually learned some things I’d love to share! 1. Sales Services are a natural fit for a marketing agency. Consumers are smarter and more empowered now than at any other time in history. According to Aligned to Achieve, 70% of a buyer’s research is complete before they reach out to sales. That’s a lot of research! And when that knowledgeable prospect reaches out to a salesperson and hears anything that doesn’t align with what they already believe they know to be true, that creates risk. And risk causes people to pause - that kills deals. more

March 22, 2018

5 Things to Expect Working with a Digital Marketing Agency

by Grace Johnson-Connor

 more

March 15, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - How to Measure the Success of Your Blog

by Ashley Daniels

In our new video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

March 8, 2018

Hate change?  Enjoy Irrelevance!

by Pete Brand

Last year, I attended an event where the speaker told a story that really just stuck with me. He shared  the highlights of a conversation he recently had with a “fifty something” male executive. The exec shared his frustration over the rapid rate of change that was happening in his business, "the market" and basically every aspect of the world.  He finished his rant by saying, “I HATE CHANGE!”more

March 1, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Marketing Emails

by Ashley Daniels

In our new video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

February 22, 2018

Our Environment Impacts Your Personas.  Ignore at Your Own Peril.

by Pete Brand

It’s no mystery that it’s critical to intimately understand the personas you serve if you want your marketing to be successful.  Once you identify where your personas congregate online, you can observe their conversations and identify the problems they’re struggling with.  More importantly, you can see the exact words they use as they search for solutions to their challenges. more

February 15, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE  - How to Organize Website Content

by Ashley Daniels

In our new video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

February 1, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - Buyer Personas

by Ashley Daniels

In our new video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

January 25, 2018

A UX Lesson with Trucks: GMC vs Ford

by Paul Ferrier

How do you impress a GMC truck owner? Have them drive a Ford. Ah, the classic brand rivalry that’s as good as any.more

January 18, 2018

Minds of MINDSCAPE - How to Prove the Value of Inbound

by Ashley Daniels

We are excited to announce the launch of our new video blog series, Minds of MINDSCAPE! In each clip, a member of our team will share a few words of wisdom about their particular area of expertise. more

January 10, 2018

4 Reasons to Choose WooCommerce as Your eCommerce Platform

by Ashley Daniels

Launching an eCommerce component of your business can be quite stressful. You want to make sure that you choose a platform that not only has an interface that is easy for your customers to use, but also one that offers a level of security and support that will provide you and your customers with peace of mind that they are safe while they are shopping.more

December 20, 2017

4 Must-Try Website Design Trends for 2018

by Ashley Daniels

The year is drawing to a close. You know what that means? The "best of 2017 " and "things to look for in 2018" lists are here! No matter your area of interest, there is a list for it: movies,travel, or web design (which is of course is one of our favorite topics here at MINDSCAPE). I asked our Senior UI/UX designers what they believe will be some of the biggest website design trends of 2018.more

December 12, 2017

5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your AdWords Spend

by Ashley Daniels

Here at MINDSCAPE, while we primarily work work to drive website traffic using Inbound Marketing tactics,  we are actually big fans of PPC. PPC is a fantastic way to bolster your SEO and media efforts. A well executed paid search campaign can give you insight into the keywords your audience is using when they search and what type of content resonates with them. more

December 5, 2017

"Please, for the Love of God, Stop Using Page Builders!" -  A Developer's Plea

by Matt Brand

I get it. Your website is due for an update. You've spent weeks, maybe months, designing what you'd consider the best web design to ever bless the internet. You want to share this design with the world and have them bask in its eternal glory. The problem is, you don’t know how to code.more

November 28, 2017

5 Signs a Chatbot is a Good Fit for Your Brand

by Ashley Daniels

If you’ve spent any time browsing the web in the last few years, you’ve probably encountered a chatbot. It popped up in the bottom corner of your screen and asked if there was anything that you needed help with. But that’s a very basic chatbot and in recent years they have come a long way. Now they are capable of making recommendations, qualifying leads and engaging visitors. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, take a step back and talk about what a exactly a chatbot is.more

November 16, 2017

Beating Big Business by Owning the Buyer's Journey

by Connor Manion

In a world where the average shopper can have Amazon deliver anything to their house in under two days, life is rough for a smaller e-commerce site. I mean, how are you supposed to compete with brands like Walmart, Target, and Nike? You're not going to make 12 billion ( Apple's total in e-commerce sales in 2016) in sales revenue by giving your team a good pep talk.more

November 13, 2017

The Cost of Selecting the Wrong CMS

by Ashley Daniels

A content management system or CMS, is at the heart of each and every website. It’s the thing that makes your website, well a website. So, choosing the right one for your business can be a huge decision. You want to choose one that meets your needs without breaking the bank.more

November 7, 2017

6 Tips for Designing a Click-Worthy CTA

by Mark Swanson

One of the key aspects of developing a good UX ( AKA user experience) on a website is outlining clear user paths (the series of pages that site visitors are most likely to view based on their needs and interests). One way to move people down a particular path, and forward in their buying journey, is with a well crafted CTA.more

October 26, 2017

Increasing Brand Awareness Through Speaking Engagements

by Amanda Brand

What tactics are you using to raise awareness for your brand and help move people along in their buying journey? Do you blog? Post on social media? Dabble in paid search? While those are all extremely effective tactics, sometimes one of the best ways of reaching your audience is getting out in the marketplace and interacting with them face-to-face. So if you are looking for another way to reach your audience, consider doing some speaking engagements!more

October 24, 2017

3 Examples of Why You Should Avoid the Latest Digital Marketing Trend

by Connor Manion

At somepoint in time, we have all fallen victim to trends that, in hindsight, have been...regrettable. Leg warmers, jeggings, man-buns, Crocs - I think we can all agree that we were blind to their incomprehensible trendiness. Luckily for us, following these trends only led to a few terrible school photos. Getting on board with the latest digital marketing trends, however, could have more...adverse effects. Let's take a look at a few popular digital marketing trends that are now being questioned. more

October 19, 2017

The Who, What, Where, When, and Why of Your Content Strategy

by Connor Manion

There are a lot of people out there with a lot of different opinions on what a content strategy is. In fact, many believe that a content strategy is just the "why" in the who, what, where, when, and why of the title of this post. I don't really care to argue semantics with other marketers,more

October 17, 2017

5 Tips for Keeping Clients & Customers Happy

by Ashley Daniels

As marketers, we spend a lot of time and energy trying to move leads through the buyer’s journey and keeping them happy all the while. But what about once someone is actually a customer? What steps are you taking to make sure that your happy leads convert into happy clients and customers?more

October 16, 2017

Why You Should be Using Heat Maps

by Ashley Daniels

Have you ever wondered what exactly people are looking when they visit your website? Or perhaps where they are clicking? Or if they are scrolling all the way to the bottom of a web page? If you've wondered any of these things, you might want to spend some time looking at heat maps of your web pages. more

October 12, 2017

How to Pick the Perfect Inbound Agency

by Connor Manion

Awhile back we wrote a blog post about how you can find success in your partnership with an inbound marketing agency . We didn't, however, give any tips on how to actually choose an agency. To give you some advice on this decision-making process, I talked to our CEO (and top salesperson), Pete Brand. Here is the advice he had to offer. more

October 10, 2017

How to Create Content to Get Customer Feedback

by Ashley Daniels

When you think about creating content for your business, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is creating content that will benefit your customers and help move them along in their buying journey; content like blogs, videos, and content offers. You know, all the things that we and other marketing blogs, spend a majority of our time talking about and dispensing advice on creating.more

October 5, 2017

10 Vlogs for the Aspiring Photographer and Videographer

by Connor Manion

I don't think I need to say how crucial video content is to a digital marketing strategy.  YouTube has over a billion users, and more than 500 million hours of videos   are watched on YouTube each day. Four out of five consumers believe that demo videos are helpful.  Including video in a landing page can increase conversion by 80%.  Using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line boosts open rate by 19%.  Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.  The statistics go on and on. The proof is there; video is an essential component to a successful digital marketing strategy. But you already knew that, didn't you?  You're problem isn't a lack of knowledge. You're problem is a lack of resources. You know what you should be doing, you just don't have the resources to get the job done.  Well, you're in luck. About 10 months ago, MINDSCAPE hired a photographer/videographer, and she shared some of the most helpful video and photography resources she has used to improve upon her skills - all taking the form of Youtube vloggers.  Let's take a look at these vlogs so you can begin your journey to becoming a better video marketer (and a better photographer).more

September 26, 2017

How to Measure the Success of A Marketing Event

by Amanda Brand

If you are a seasoned marketer or event coordinator, then you know know that even the simplest of marketing and networking events are often more than they appear. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that the event is a success! Take a free lunch and learn (like the ones we host each month) for example. They are a fun, laid back, information filled hour and half. Lunch and Learns are a great way to meet others in attendance and also leave with some great nuggets that you can immediately implement in your own marketing efforts. Sounds simple enough to pull off, right? But there is a lot more going on behind the scenes of this casual lunch event, than meets the eye. Let’s take a look! First we thought about our buyer personas. We considered who our ideal client is and how we can host an information session in a way that is appealing to them. Well, we achieved this by:more

September 21, 2017

Paid Web Fonts & Your Brand

by Ashley Daniels

One of the key elements of a brand are the fonts used in your print and marketing materials. Which makes sense because they are the thing that presents one of the most important things in your materials, the copy. I would be willing to bet you’ve probably spent a lot of time searching for and selecting the font that you feel best represents your brand and your message.more

September 20, 2017

Creating the Perfect Video Testimonial Part 2

by Connor Manion

Awhile back,  we wrotea blog post covering all of the prep work that needs to be done to shoot the perfect video testimonial...but we never actually covered the shooting part. I talked to our in house photographer/videographer, Rachel Cohen, for a little advice on getting the job done. more

September 14, 2017

Measuring the Performance of Your Content Offer

by Connor Manion

Measuring the performance of a content offer is one of the hardest things to do in digital marketing. Why? Because there are a million and one factors that play into a visitors decision to download your offer... and another million that contribute to whether or not they take action after. In this blog post, I'll take you through the vast majority of these factors and explain how they fit into the performance of your content offer. At the end of this post, you should be able to accurately assess the performance of your content offer and break down which areas of your campaign need attention. The Pieces of a Content Offer A content offer is an informative and relevant piece of content that you offer in exchange for a visitors personal information. This can be an ebook, a how-to-guide, a free trial or demo, or a tool or other resource. For a content offer to be successful, there are many other things that should be created including (but not limited to):  A CTA Button A Landing Page A Thank you Page A Promotional Email A Social Promotion Campaign A Follow-up Email Campaign Let's take a look at how these things play into the measurement of a content offer. Content Offer Clicks - CTA Buttons, Social Ads, Email Promotions One way to measure the performance of your content offer is with clicks. How many CTA clicks does your content offer have from your various avenues of promotion? This is not an indicator in itself of how well your content offer is performing, but rather an indicator of how well your ads, promotional emails, and CTA buttons are performing. What this can be an indicator of in regards to your offer is whether or not your idea hit the mark. How well is your offer resonating with your desired audience? A lack of clicks may represent poor promotional material, but it may also represent a missing of the mark. Conversely, a high number of clicks could indicate great promotional material, but it could also indicate an interest in the topic/tool/resource you have provided to your intended audience. It is up to you to look at your content and assess which is likely to be true. Click here for advice on desiging CTA's that convert! Content Offer Conversions - Landing Pages, Forms, the Offer When reporting on the success of a content offer, many digital marketers immediately jump to conversions. If the conversion rate is high, the content offer is a success. While lead conversion is often the primary reason for creating and publishing a content offer, the line of thinking above isn't very logical. High Conversion Rate ≠ Content Offer Success A good content writer can make even the most mundane and useless content offer seem exciting and worthwhile with a little copy writing finesse on the landing page. On the other hand, a bad landing page or a form that sets too high a price may lead to the failure of a riveting and informative offer. What does this mean for your performance metrics? Conversions really don't have a lot to do with the successful the offer itself is. Customer Conversions (and other lead actions) One last way many measure the performance of their content offers is with the actions leads take after interacting with an offer. How many visitors interact with the offer and then become customers? How many leads spend a significant amount of time on site after receiving the offer? How many take another step in their buying journey after receiving the offer? This metric, like those listed before it, has its complications. Your content offer might not be directly responsible for any of the actions your leads choose to take after interacting with it. Their intent to take a specific action may have existed before they chose to download your offer. If you have a lead nurturing campaign in place, it could also be responsible for the lead taking action. Any way you slice it, you can not directly correlate a leads actions (after downloading your offer) with the quality of the offer (this isn't 100% true, but we'll touch on that in a second). So How Do you Measure the Success of Your Content Offer? Like many other digital marketing efforts, a content offer is just one piece of a much larger picture. The success of the CTA button, the landing page, the form, and the follow-up email campaign are all the success of the content offer. And each piece tells you something new about your offer. Your promotional materials - social and paid ads, CTA buttons, etc. tell you how marketable your offer is. Your landing page and form give you some insight into whether or not your audience is interested in the information or the tool you have provided, and the follow-up campaign tells you how good of a job your content offer did at guiding your leads down the sales funnel. Looking at all of these metrics is important in assessing the overall performance of your content offer. And when evaluating individual aspects of your overall digital marketing strategy, you should consider what role they play in the grander scheme of things. That being said, there are a few things you can do to assess the performance of your content offer itself. Hypothesize, test, measure. Let's say you aren't receiving any form submissions on your landing page. You believe the copy is the problem, so you change it - you see no change in submissions. You reevaluate your landing page, and you believe the design is the problem. You change the design - still no change in submissions. Finally, you conclude that your form is just asking too much of visitors. You get rid of a couple of form fields and... still nothing. The problem might be that your offer is not as valuable as you believed it would be. Hypothesize, test, and measure the difference. This will lead you to a conclusion about your offer.  Provide a next step on the offer itself. If you give users a direct step to take at the end of - or in the middle of - your content offer, you can rate its performance based on how many individuals take the step provided. Sometimes assessing success is as simple as a survey. Yeah, it's that easy. Just send a follow-up email to those who interact with your offer asking them to rate it - better yet, ask them to rate it right there at the end of the offer or on the thank you page! Getting direct feed back is a sure fire way to know if your offer is successful. Regardless of how many clicks, conversions, and customers a content offer can be associated with, a bunch of one out of five's will point you in the right direction.  Start with a clear goal in mind. I don't think I need to tell you that having S.M.A.R.T goals recorded is important when launching a content offer. Hopefully, this post has helped you nail down the M, but regardless of what you have learned here, if you have a specific goal in mind, measurement is easy. Did you reach your goal? If no, then your offer under performed. If you met or succeeded your goal, then it looks like the offer did its job. I know that is egregiously simplistic, but this isn't a post about setting goals.   Conclusions we can draw about measuring content offer performance It isn't easy to measure the performance of an offer, but if you look at all of the different pieces that contribute to its success, you should be on your way to creating an amazing campaign. For the best results, remember to go through every possible cause for an outcome befoe making any changes.  If you'd like more tips on content offers, measurment, and all things digital marketing, consider subscribing to our blog. You'll receive an email notification everytime we publish new blog content, allowing you to stay up-to-date without having to run to google. Just click below to subscribe! more

September 12, 2017

4 Questions to Ask When Choosing a CMS

by Connor Manion

A CMS or Content Management System is a digital program or application that allows multiple users to create, edit, review, publish, manage, and archive the various forms of content that make up a website. Though, if you're doing research on them, you probably already knew that. There are a thousand different Content Management Systems out there, and it is hard to say if one is definitively better than the rest. Despite that, there is one that is definitively best for you. Asking the following four questions is a great place to start your search. Happy Hunting! 1) Is this CMS easy to learn and use? A big benefit of having a CMS is that with a simple password, anyone at your company can manage your website content. However, that benefit is useless if no one but the technologically-savvy no how to use your CMS. To get the most bang for your buck, you'll want to choose a CMS that is easy for everyone to learn and use. Non-technical individuals should have no problem navigating the system after a little training. Even if you plan on having one incredibly capable individual doing most of the work within the CMS, I strongly urge you to look for one that is at least somewhat user friendly. At some point down the line, you may want other, less technologically inclined individuals, to work within the CMS. If don't want to have to train them for two months straight before they understand what they are doing. 2) Does this CMS help maintain and even improve your current SEO rankings? If you want to improve your rankings with the search engines, or at least maintain your current rankings, you will want to check the SEO capabilities of a CMS before deciding upon it. Does it allow you to create meta-descriptions and meta-tags? Does it have a built-in SEO grader that allows you to see where you can improve your on-page SEO? If not, does it have integration capabilities with other SEO tools? All of these things are critical to developing and maintaining a good SEO strategy for your website. 3) Will this CMS grow with you? Another big question to ask when choosing your content management system deals with scalability. When you choose a CMS you aren't just deciding for right now; you are deciding for the years to come. Right now, your website might have 12 pages and two forms. But three years from now, who knows where you'll be? Choose a CMS that can support the growth you not only plan for, but dream of - best case scenario. If you have a 1,000% increase in traffic tomorrow, will your CMS be able to handle it? 4) Does this CMS keep your website safe and secure? You want your data, your content, all of your hard work to be as safe and secure as possible. While it is possible (in theory) for any website to be hacked, some content management systems offer more security than others. When making your decision, be sure to assess the threat your website faces from malicious sources and the effects a breach in security would have on your business. Here at Mindscape, we support multiple Content Management Systems including: BigTree (PHP) Wordpress (PHP) Hubspot (HubL) SiteCore (Enterprise, .NET) webTRAIN (Our own prioprietary platform on, .NET Magento (Enterprise, PHP) Shopify (Ruby) Volusion (.NET) We work with you to ensure the selection you're making is best for your company, your needs, and your future. It's not dependant on a specific language we can code.more

September 7, 2017

How to Measure the Success of Your Blog

by Connor Manion

In the digital marketing world there is no shortage of things to measure, analyze, and report on. It is all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of data your site generates. That being said, I've never become more lost in data then when I first began trying to assess the value of blogging. It seemed easy at first - look at visits and CTA clicks and you're done - but I soon learned there are a plethora of ways to grade a blog.  Luckily for you, you don't have to stumble through the data like I did. Take a look at the metrics below and decide what is important to you - and perhaps  more importantly become aware of the ways certain metrics can mislead you. more

September 5, 2017

Content Marketing: How to Save the Day Like Daenerys Targaryen

by Ashley Daniels

Photo credit : HBOmore

August 31, 2017

It is Your Data, Why Isn't it Your Account?

by Connor Manion

Paid Advertising is a great tool to use in conjunction with your Inbound Marketing efforts. But if you are looking to start a campaign (or if you're already in the middle of one), you could be in danger. While allowing an agency to run a campaign on your behalf, you run the risk of losing important data. How? PPC Client-Owned Accounts Versus Agency Owned Accounts When you start a paid campaign while in partnership with an agency, some agencies take ownership of the account. When you and the agency part ways, the agency will be in full control of your paid account - meaning you no longer have access to the data from your campaigns.  Why is it important to have ownership of your paid accounts? Adwords and Bing are actively running campaigns, the historical data they accrue not only helps inform strategic decisions, but it also helps the account itself improve over time. See, Google and Bing want to put the best, most relevant ads in front of their users. If your account has a history of successful paid campaigns, then costs may be lower, and it might be easier to hit your goals in things like search position. Thus, the loss of data that comes with parting ways with your agency can drive up costs (Ex. cost per click, cost per conversion), and decrease the performance (Ex. search position, conversions, clicks, impressions, etc.), of your future campaigns. How do you avoid problems with paid advertising?  Well, you could run your own paid campaigns from the get-go, but if working with an agency is a better option for you, you have a couple of choices. The first is to insist that the agency implement all campaigns using client-owned accounts. We can tell you as an agency ourselves that there is really no downside to this. Any reasonable agency should be fine with giving you ownership of the account. In fact, any reasonable agency should give you ownership of the account without you having to ask. If for some reason the agency MUST take ownership, add a clause to the agreement that states when the partnership ends, ownership of the account will be transferred to your company.more

August 29, 2017

Design Trend Alert - Big, Bold Typography

by Mark Swanson

Content is king. Websites should be designed to deliver content, not merely serve as pretty wrappers to drop content into. With this growing emphasis on content it’s no surprise that typography plays a major role in the user experience and is arguably the most important design element of your site. Great typography not only looks good, but is highly functional.more

August 24, 2017

4 Reasons to Rebrand Your Social Media

by Ashley Daniels

  Your brand is a bit like a puzzle. It's made up of many pieces that all fit together to create the overall perception that people have of your organization. In our blog post last week, 3 reasons your branding should evolve, we made the case for changing elements (or puzzle pieces if you will) of your brand gradually over time, rather than drastically changing everything all at once.   One piece of your brand, that can be updated relatively easily, is your social media.more

August 22, 2017

Your website isn't perfect. It's never going to be.

by Jeff Bell

Nearly every time we partner with a business on launching their site, we run into the same roadblock - they want everything to be perfect. Every word must be reviewed, every part and product entered, every page created. more

August 17, 2017

3 reasons your branding should evolve.

by Stephan Hokanson

The case for evolution: why evolving your brand is better than blowing it up. Re-branding can be fun. But it’s not fun like jogging with a weiner dog, it’s fun like being wide open on a Ducati 959 Panegali. That is to say, it’s a bit terrifying, and if something goes wrong, there are going to be serious consequences. Which is why I’d like to suggest a *different* approach. Instead of completely transforming everything about your brand like Shazam, allow your brand identity to change slowly and gradually in relationship to its environment.more

August 11, 2017

How an App Improved Mobile Sales & Customer Experience

by Ashley Daniels

 As anyone who is involved in the world of e-commerce knows, it's a tough industry. You have to deal with a variety of external forces that aren't necessarily going to work in your favor. You face competition from the entire Internet, competing with businesses all over the world who offer the same products that you do. And if you do break through all the noise and get someone to shop with you, they might be shopping from a desktop, phone or tablet. Then you have to make sure that no matter what device they're on, they have a great shopping experience. If they don't, that might very well be the only time that they shop with you. more

August 10, 2017

The Importance of Learning CSS Basics : A Word from Our Developer

by Ashley Daniels

We've all heard it a thousand times, "You have to walk before you can run". You have to learn the basic aspects of something before you can move on to the more complex ones. This holds true for almost everything in life, including learning how to write proper CSS (the style language that defines fonts, colors, margins, background images, etc. on a website).more

August 8, 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog

by Connor Manion

I've always liked puzzles. Crossword, jigsaw, sudoku — the process of bringing all of these separate pieces together to create something whole —  has, for me, always been a fulfilling one. This is probably one of the reasons I went into digital marketing. Email, social media, blogging, SEO — bringing all of these moving pieces together to form one cohesive strategy isn't too far from a sodoku or a jigsaw puzzle. But blogging itself isn't a puzzle. It's a recipe. And I absolutely hate cooking. If you're anything like me, you probably think that there is some secret strategy to blogging. That if you just put the words together in the right way, your blog post will suddenly take off, but that's not the case. Creating a successful blog post is more like baking a cake than solving a puzzle. You need to have all of the right ingredients, prepare them in the right way, bake your cake for the proper amount of time, and let it cool for a while. Alright, enough with these analogies. You came to this post to learn how to start a blog, so let's get to it! If you've already started a blog and are just looking for tips on Keyword research and SEO, skip to step 3. more

August 3, 2017

Using Drones to Capture Footage: A Word From Our Photographer

by Ashley Daniels

Recently, a hot topic in the photography and videography space is the use of drones. While the more widespread accessibility of drones has allowed people to capture footage that wasn't otherwise available to the regular citizen who didn't own a helicopter or plane. But as with many new technologies, there are debates around regulation and safety.more

August 1, 2017

5 Things I Learned from a Year of Blogging

by Connor Manion

  Exactly 411 days ago, I started work here at MINDSCAPE. I was incredibly excited to begin work as a writer and knew I had the experience and talent to make a difference - or thought I knew. While I was an experienced writer, I didn’t understand the colossal difference between writing content for a digital marketing strategy and writing news articles, reviews, and other non-marketing content. I spent my first two months intensively learning the ins and outs of SEO and keyword research under the tutelage of a strategist. I learned the specific MINDSCAPE blogging process under the senior content writer. And I picked up a few tips from the resident designers and developers. I was overflowing with knowledge and ready to take on the world. But alas, there are some things that training can’t teach you; there some things that you learn on the job. Luckily for you, I have documented some of those things, so you don’t have to spend a year blogging to figure them out. Below are five key things that I have taken away from my past year of blogging. Hopefully, they’ll save you from having to learn a hard lesson or two.more

July 20, 2017

Google Analytics Update: A Word From Our Strategist

by Connor Manion

If you are active in Google Analytics, you have probably noticed the latest update made to the "homepage." The new update automatically brings useful and relevant data to the front page of a Google Analytics account, making it easier for users to locate important information in a timely fashion. I talked to one of Mindscape's strategists, Han Lee, to see what he had to say about the update.more

July 18, 2017

Your Landing Page Doesn't Suck, Your Form Does

by Connor Manion

 Stop. Stop what you're doing right now. You are making a HUGE mistake. There is nothing wrong with the landing page copy — you're making it worse. There is nothing wrong with the design, and if you ask your designer to change it again, she will probably break your laptop over your head. Everything about your landing page is perfect.  It's your form that's the problem. more

July 17, 2017

What is the best day to send marketing emails?

by Ashley Daniels

So, you've created a fantastic marketing email, the copy is eloquent, the template design is beautiful and you have a click-worthy CTA. Now you have to make the dreaded decision, when should you send this email?more

July 6, 2017

5 Easy Things You Can do to Update Your Marketing Emails

by Ashley Daniels

Are your marketing emails not performing quite as well as you might like in terms of click through rates and conversions? Improving email performance doesn’t have to mean completely overhauling your email templates or coming up with an entirely new email strategy. Sometimes making a few small changes can make a huge difference, particularly if they are ones that make your emails easier to read and more visually appealing.more

June 29, 2017

Should You Use GIFs in Your Digital Marketing Content?

by Ashley Daniels

I was going about my day today, texting friends, checking emails, perusing social media, I realized that no matter where I looked, I encountered GIFs (or Global Interchange Format). They were being used in Facebook ads, emails from my favorite stores, I even saw a few popping up in website content.more

June 19, 2017

Understanding the user and their needs is critical to digital marketing success.

by Ashley Daniels

In eCommerce, providing user paths that meet a user's secondary needs can have a significant impact on revenue.more

June 15, 2017

College Marketing Directors: How a Content Offer Turns Visitors Into Leads

by Connor Manion

Every month you have thousands of potential students visiting your website, some of whom are probably putting together their college lists. Regardless of how amazing your site content is or how great your school's reputation is, a good chunk of these visitors are never going to interact with your school again —that is unless you gather some of their information.more

June 8, 2017

An Industry Article Synopsis: Long Scrolling Page Design

by Ashley Daniels

  A few days ago I was doing some research for a client and came across an article called, "Just Keep Scrolling! How To Design Lengthy, Lengthy Pages". There are portions of this article that are a bit technical and geared toward designers and developers, but you don't have to be a professional to get something out of the post. Here are the high points of the article that can be beneficial to anyone in marketing (or anyone with a website, really). more

June 6, 2017

What a Road Trip Taught Me About Content Writing

by Connor Manion

This weekend, my girlfriend and I went on a little camping trip to the Nordhouse dunes, located on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. The drive was about two hours long, and despite the "no work, relaxing weekend" rule that was put into place, my thoughts soon drifted to, well, my work. I promptly began having a passionate conversation with my significant other on the ins and outs of SEO and the collaborative effort that is needed to create a truly riveting content offer.  After about twenty minutes of overly enthusiastic speech and gesticulation, I asked some nearly rhetorical question. Something like, "Isn't that just amazing?"  Only to hear the same dull "mmhmm" I had been receiving for the duration of the trip. I turned to the love of my life in outright horror! How could she not be as ardent as I on the topic of digital marketing?!  The interaction set my head spinning. I fell silent. I contemplated the repugnant reality I was living in.  That's when it hit me!  It wasn't that my girlfriend loathed digital marketing! It wasn't even that she found it dull! I had just been talking about it in the completely wrong way. I was using words she wasn't familiar with; I was over explaining simple concepts and under explaining complex ones; I was stomping through the conversation like a barbaric oaf, instead of dancing through it like a truly skilled conversationalist.  I needed to make a change in the way I was talking about my industry. If your having trouble gaining traction with your blog or other website content, maybe you do to. Below are four tips I wrote down after my car ride so that I could more effectively talk to my clients, readers, and even my girlfriend about digital marketing. Take a look, apply them to your industry, and see what improvements you can make to your content.   more

June 1, 2017

4 Automation Tools to Streamline Your Digital Marketing Efforts

by Ashley Daniels

I have a co-worker who is known to say "work smarter, not harder." He's always looking for ways to make the work we do quicker and more efficient. If there is an app, website or other tool out there meant to help with digital marketing processes, I can almost guarantee he's tried it.more

May 26, 2017

Fostering a Company Culture for Millennials

by Connor Manion

The question of how to create an office-culture that Millennials will love has always struck me as odd. Because, well, I am a Millennial, and I'll tell you right now, I don't look for anything unusual or outlandish in a company culture. I'm not searching for an office that has a pool table or a basketball hoop. I don't need a pizza Friday or Bagel Tuesday. And I don't think there is anything I could care less about than bean bag chairs (seriously, where did that misconception even come from?). more

May 23, 2017

Content Creation for MQL's and SQL's

by Ashley Daniels

Lead generation. It's one of the greatest areas of concerns when it comes to digital marketing. The prospect of bringing in new customers for your business is super exciting. They are your lifeblood after all. So it's no surprise that when you have an awesome email campaign or content offer,  you want to let every “lead” you have know about it. However, as great as your content might be, it probably has a different level of value for each of your leads. more

May 19, 2017

How to Create a Successful Email Re-engagement Campaign

by Connor Manion

Let's say you have an email list of exactly one thousand contacts. You have worked hard to collect these contacts, creating valuable content offers, engaging your social media followers, and blogging twice a week to provide visitors with useful information. You're proud of your list, and you've been nurturing your contacts consistently to turn them into loyal customers. But lately, you've realized that almost one-fourth of your contacts are no longer opening your emails. more

May 16, 2017

Defeating Writer's Block by "Flipping the Switch"

by Connor Manion

Yesterday I had a Monday morning from hell. You know, one of those Mondays where you have about a million things to do, but for some reason, every ounce of determination, self-discipline, and creative energy you've ever had has abandoned you? Yeah, it was that kind of Monday. I got to work early, sat down with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, opened my laptop aaaaaaaaannnnd nothing. Nothing at all. For about four hours I stared at my screen, writing and re-writing sentence after sentence and paragraph after paragraph until I looked up at the clock and called it. Lunch Break. I felt like I hadn't made any progress on only the first of about 20 tasks I needed to complete. And my impending stress seemed to be a further source of derision between the part of my brain responsible for issuing commands and the part of my brain following them.  It was a rough morning. But it taught me something valuable. After downing a double shot of espresso and returning to my computer, I started to realize why I had been having so much trouble.  I had not "flipped my switch." No matter what kind of writer you are, you almost certainly have some sort of voice. It may not be the most obvious of voices, in fact, it may not be evident at all, but trust me, it's there. My perception of my own voice lives somewhere between, fast-talking con artist and talk show host who laughs at his own jokes. more

May 12, 2017

Easy Navigation = Lower Bounce Rate!

by Ashley Daniels

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever left a web page with in minutes of arriving, because it wasn't easy to find the information you were looking for and quickly navigate to it? I'm sure that all of us have done is once or twice.  In marketing, we like to refer to this quick exit after visiting only one page as "bouncing". more

May 11, 2017

WTF is a CDN?

by Stephan Hokanson

This is what the internet feels like with a CDN. Sort of. The other day, a client gave us the green light to move their site. They’d been on a cheapo shared hosting plan that might be great for hosting a blog that no-one reads, but wasn't a match for an up-and-coming e-commerce business. After wrestling with some stubborn plugins, we had the site up. And shortly after that, it went from “up” to “flying.” Page load speed skyrocketed, and generously-sized product images popped up instantly. It wasn’t voodoo magic (though it kind of felt like it.) The real power behind this significant speed boost was that we’d turned on our CDN. Which raises the important question:more

May 9, 2017

CTA 101- The Basics of Calls-to-Action

by Ashley Daniels

I want you to think back to elementary school. What do you remember most? A favorite game you played at recess? A favorite lunch that your mom used to pack for you? How about a favorite school subject? One of the things that I remember most about elementary school is my favorite subject, Reading & Writing. more

May 3, 2017

5 Ways to Get Motivated on Monday Mornings

by Connor Manion

You walk into your office with a sinking feeling in your stomach. At best, it can be described as uncomfortable, at worst, a crippling dread. Following the scent of coffee, you sleepwalk into the office breakroom. Empty greetings of "morning" accompanied by blank stares greet you; you take little notice, murmuring a hollow reply of your own. You grip the handle of the pot containing your saving grace and splash the liquid gold into a mug —you don't remember how it got in your hand. You wander aimlessly around the office until you find your desk. Plopping into your charcoal chair, you turn on your computer and attempt to start the day. It is Monday morning. You have a weeks work ahead of you. And you are a zombie. No determination, no inspiration,  no MOTIVATION . Let's ge t you into working human condition, shall we?  Below are five ways you can fight your Garfield-like tendency of hating Mondays so you can start your work week off right. 1. Identify the problem Monday mornings are a struggle for most people. In fact, one of my favorite quotes alludes to the idea that even those who adore their jobs hate Mondays. It is this: "Even art gets up at 8:00 am on Monday." Regardless of if you are a rockstar or a corporate accountant, we can all relate to the struggle of getting out of bed and putting ourselves to work.  However, we all have different reasons for WHY this is a struggle. For some of us, it may be leaving our spouse and children behind for the day. For others, it may be that we find no enjoyment in our jobs. Still, others may simply hate leaving the cozy comfort of their beds. If you want to conquer Monday mornings, you need to identify what it is that you hate so much about getting up and going to work. Then, you need to make a change or come to terms with this problem. 2. Early to Bed Early to Rise If you are having trouble getting motivated, the issue may not be with your job; it may be that you don't sleep enough or that you sleep too much. As recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, most working age adults (adults 18-64 years old) should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Any more or any less and you may find yourself groggy and slow to start in the morning. If you want to start your week off right, get to bed early Sunday night, get 7-9 hours of sleep, and wake up early enough to give your brain a little start up time. EXPERIMENT: If you have a job that allows for a flexible start time each morning, go to bed early and see when you naturally wake up. This is a good way to find out how much sleep you need each night and waking up naturally (instead of to the jolting screeches of an alarm) can be incredibly pleasant. 3. It is the weekend, relax One reason you may not be feeling motivated at the beginning of your work week is that you haven't actually given yourself a break - you are rundown from the last work week which somehow extended into your weekend. Sometimes working over the weekend is inevitable, but giving yourself time to recharge is absolutely essential to maintaining your motivation and quality of work. Unplug for the weekend when you can. Avoid taking any work-related calls or checking in on any projects. Give yourself a break from the constant stream of emails that come your way and enjoy your weekend. This is not shirking your duties, and while you may feel like this will put you behind, you will be more prepared for Monday morning which is when you'll really need your energy and focus. 4. Plan Ahead What does your Monday morning look like? If your first hour of work involves repeatedly "checking" your email, logging onto your social media accounts, or staring at a random list of tasks—you're doing Monday wrong. Instead of coming into the office with no game plan, and really no direction, give Zombie-Monday you a break! Before you leave the office on Friday, make a list of what you want to accomplish on Monday.  Revisit your list Sunday night before bed, so it will be fresh when you wake up in the morning. If you do this, you'll be able to walk into the office confident about what you need to get done. You won't get bogged down with the usual mundane Monday tasks you perform while trying to figure out what to do with your day. 5. Get Creative, Get Analytical, Get Monotonous All of us are motivated by different things, and all of us receive little bursts of motivation at different times throughout the day. If you plan according to your usual Monday morning disposition, you may be able to motivate yourself right when you walk into the office, or you may not NEED any motivation at all. If you know that you are going to be brain dead Monday morning no matter what you do, then plan to tackle your tedious weekly tasks right when you walk in the office. Send out all necessary emails, check in on any current projects, plan all of your meetings, schedule all of your time, etc. In contrast, maybe all you need to get yourself going is a creative project. Maybe you just need something to get excited about, something that will spark that passionate energy. If this is the case, plan something like a brainstorming session for Monday morning. Sit down with a few of your coworkers and pound out a few hundred ideas for your current project. Planning to your disposition will allow you to utilize your time in the most effective way possible and you may not have to make a single change to your routine. You gave one (or all)of these tips a shot, now what? Well, now the Monday morning scenario plays out  a bit differently. Now you walk into your office with a strange light feeling in your stomach. The smell of coffee fills your nostrils, but you pass by the office break room, already feeling awake as can be. You pass a coworker and let out a "good morning" that tumbles around the office like a too-loud laugh.  Numerous sets of unfocused eyes meet yours and became alight with something akin to wonder and surprise. You make your way purposefully to your desk. Sitting down in your charcoal chair, you turn on your computer and start the day.  With this new-found energy, you have the motivation to more effectively get your day to day work done.     If you are looking to inject this same energy into your digital marketing efforts, consider contacting us.   After all, MINDSCAPE is a digital marketing agency that helps companies in multiple industries improve traffic, improve conversions and get better results.  We are waiting to hear from you!   more

April 26, 2017

How to Lower Your Website's Bounce Rate

by Connor Manion

There you are, just sitting at your desk on a fine Friday afternoon. The weather is lovely, work is relaxed, and you are ready to enjoy your well deserved weekend. You are making your rounds through Google Analytics, a common end-of-week practice when suddenly your day goes to down hill. You realize that one of your most visited pages has an astronomical bounce rate. more

April 25, 2017

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Writer

by Connor Manion

When you are first starting out, the word of digital marketing can be incredibly overwhelming. Between website design, social media accounts, email campaigns, SEO, analytics, and content creation, a lot of company's decide to outsource components of their digital strategy. And one of the first things to go is writing (specifically blog writing).more

April 14, 2017

Case Study: Keeping up with Facebook's changing algorithms.

by Ashley Daniels

  In recent years, it seems like Facebook has been tweaking their algorithms every few months. Many of these changes have made it more difficult for marketers to share content with their full audiences because of a decline in organic reach. One way around this is creating paid Facebook campaigns that are specifically targeted to certain segments of your audience. more

April 12, 2017

4 Trends in College Website Design and Content

by Ashley Daniels

The days where your college website could skate by on pure information and a design comparable to that of a hotel lobby brochure are long gone. You need a little more to make your website unique and appealing to the wide variety of people who visit it (alumni, current students, parents and especially prospective students). There are a plethora of website designs and content trends that you can experiment with to  set your school’s website apart.more

April 5, 2017

Creating the Perfect Video Testimonial: Prep Work

by Connor Manion

By now, we're all probably aware of the extreme results video content can produce. Including video content in an email leads to a 200-300% increase in click-through rate, including a video on a landing page can lead to an 80% increase in conversion rate, after watching a video 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online (Hubspot). I mean, with one trip to the search engines, you can turn up a plethora of positive video content statistics - seriously, I just did it and found all of these: more

March 22, 2017

Branching Out - The Importance of Interacting with New People

by Ashley Daniels

A few weeks ago, MINDSCAPE decided to have a party at our office in honor of National Margarita Day. We laid out the snacks, mixed up the drinks, and invited the other tenants of our building to mix and mingle. Our building is home to a staffing agency, a construction company and a few non-profits (so businesses and organizations that don't have much in common other than sharing a geographic location). But everyone had a great time and we all had the opportunity to meet some people we might not have otherwise . Yes, we could have just invited other marketing professionals; but we wanted to expand our horizons, branch out, meet new people and build a little good will in the community.  The MINDSCAPE margarita party got me thinking about how interacting with new people for the benefit of your organization and networking can take many shapes and forms. The idea of branching out can be applied to your organization's social media efforts. Follow people and organizations in your community and interact with them.more

March 20, 2017

MINDSCAPE's March Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

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March 16, 2017

Failure is just the beginning.

by Stephan Hokanson

The other day I was reading a particularly inspiring post, The Surprising Benefits of Failure, from Think with Google (Sidebar: Think with Google is awesome. If you aren’t subscribing already, you should.)  It’s a great post because it talks about the importance of learning from failure, but more importantly,  it hits on several ideas which are essential to the way that our shop operates. I realized that we have a few things in common with Google, even if we don’t have 70 thousand employees and $89 billion in revenue. (We’re working on it.)more

March 8, 2017

Using Storytelling to Create B2B Digital Content

by Ashley Daniels

Throw away your laundry list.  How a good story can make your content more compelling. The other day I was perusing Netflix, trying to decide what to watch. In its infinite wisdom, Netflix suggested one of my favorite shows, Mad Men. For those of you who aren't familiar, Mad Men is a period drama set in the 1960's at a New York advertising agency. The plot is full of drama, intrigue, and — marketing wisdom? Let me explain.  On Mad Men, the advertising agencies focus on creating elaborate campaigns to sell products to consumers, we're talking storyboards, characters, themes and in-depth narratives, almost like they were creating mini-movies. Things usually culminate with the suave leading man, Don Draper, giving a grand client presentation telling an amazing story.  It happens that the same imaginative thought process and crafting of storytelling narratives used by Mad Men can be — and should — be applied to creating content for your B2B website.more

March 1, 2017

Using Emojis in Your Email Subject Lines

by Connor Manion

Did you know that 6 billion text messages are sent in the U.S. every day? Crazy, right? Or maybe it isn't so crazy anymore. You probably text a fair amount. I text a fair amount. Everyone I know texts a fair amount. In fact, it seems that texting is a much more preferred method of communication when it comes to the younger generations. Which got me thinking...more

February 22, 2017

The 5 numbers that matter most to your website

by Stephan Hokanson

Advice for measuring website performance for people who think they're too busy to measure website performance. The blessing of a website is that everything is measurable. The curse of a website …  is that everything is measurable. Do people click red buttons more than blue buttons? Which verb works best for a Call-to-Action? What percentage of people visiting my site are coming from the Ukraine? Knowing what, when, and how to measure can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be. Our Chief Operating Officer is an incredibly intelligent guy, and when he’s considering site metrics, he focuses on just five numbers. Five isn’t so bad. You have five senses; five pockets in your Levi's, and five days in your work week — okay, five days in your *average* work week. Anyway, if you want a snapshot of performance, here are the five numbers that are most important to your website.more

February 15, 2017

MINDSCAPE's February Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

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February 8, 2017

MINDSCAPE Q&A - Website Photography & Video for Beginners

by Ashley Daniels

I'm sure you've all heard the saying “everyone's a critic.” Well in 2017, everyone's a photographer — or so they think. Many marketers believe that because their Instagram feed looks great, they're photographers. Well, that is until they are asked to create visual content (aka pictures and videos) for their organization's website or social media accounts. When people start talking about shot lists, camera angles, and editing software, it can be a confidence killer. more

February 1, 2017

4 Ways Acting Made Me a Better Inbound Marketer

by Connor Manion

Now, I don't want to brag or anything, but back in my college days I was quite the actor. Got the lead in the school play in fact. John Barrymore; I Hate Hamlet. You should look it up.  I had dreams of becoming a famous movie star. I wanted to sing and dance on Broadway. But, sometime during my senior year, I realized that a lifetime of auditioning wasn't  for me. Instead I became an Inbound Marketer. more

January 25, 2017

You might need a website redesign if…

by Stephan Hokanson

  A website redesign is like any big project: it gets put off until it becomes absolutely necessary. Here are a few (light-hearted) ways to tell that it's time.more

January 20, 2017

MINDSCAPE's January Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

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January 19, 2017

The What, How & When of Branded Keywords

by Ashley Daniels

Have you ever played the word association game? You know the one: where someone rattles off a list of words and you say the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word. For example, kittens = cuddly, rain = cloud, spiders = creepy.more

January 12, 2017

3 Must-Try Web Design Trends of 2017

by Ashley Daniels

It’s the start of a fresh, new year. You know what that means? The "best trends of 2016 " and "things to look for in 2017" lists are here! No matter your area of interest, there is a list for it: food, travel, or web design (which is of course is one of our favorite topics here at MINDSCAPE).more

January 4, 2017

5 Ways to Improve Your Email Subject Lines

by Connor Manion

So you've written the perfect email. It has everything. The design is glorious, the content is nothing less than brilliant, and the CTA you threw at the bottom is so clickable it hurts. But you have a problem...lately your email open rates have been abysmally low. You don't want to send out your masterpiece only to have it waste away in the dusty inboxes of your list members. more

December 28, 2016

Google Analytics: A Map to Guide Your Blogging

by Ashley Daniels

Maps are one of the most valuable tools that humans have at their disposal. For thousands and thousands of years, they have helped us navigate unfamiliar places and prevented us from getting hopelessly lost. If you are a marketer or content creator, you've probably wondered if there was some type of map (be it a literal or figurative one) to help guide you through the rather confusing land of blogging and content creation. I have good news: that tool exists in Google Analytics. To a newcomer, Google Analytics  can seem overwhelming because of all the statistics and data that it provides. But there are a few things you can look at (no matter how much or little  background you have in statistical interpretation) to help you understand your visitors and improve your efforts in content creation. more

December 20, 2016

MINDSCAPE's December Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

  Join Us Thursday, January 19th Lunch & Learn How to Think Like Your Buyers  We are happy to announce our first Lunch & Learn Workshop of 2017! We will be discussing how to build your buyer personas by thinking about who they are, their pain points and what motivates them.      Class Starts Tuesday, January 24th CREATE & EXECUTE: CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY Our Create & Execute courses have been selling out fast! Why? Because with this course, we open our playbook and provide you with all the processes, tools and thinking you need to get started with your OWN content marketing strategy.      Old Product Line Gets New Life What do you do when one of your old product lines doesn't perform quite as well as you might like online? This is a dilemma that one of our clients has been facing. So in December, we've been executing a rather aggressive plan based around pricing, traffic, and conversions. Here are the initial results.   December 1st - 8th Spend as % of revenue: 63.3% Average Order Value: $47.69 Through December 8th, clearly our initial plan wasn't working as well as we needed it to. We reviewed the data, gained insights, made adjustments, and started to see better results:   December 9th - 18th Spend as % of revenue: 14.4%  Average Order Value: $169.87  While we are still working to improve the numbers, we're on target to achieve the lofty revenue goal we set for December that nearly matches what the product line has generated over the last 12 months.   This focus has brought new life into this old product line that we expect will generate significant ROI for many months and years to come.   To learn more about the results we've produced for our clients, head over to our website!         'Tis the Season for Giving  We can get so caught up during the holiday season with rushing around shopping and attending holiday parties, we often forget that for a lot of people, the holidays are a hard time of year.  This year MINDSCAPE, had the privilege to take part in the United Way's Adopt-A-Family program.The program matches sponsors with a local family in need this Christmas. We had a great time shopping for our adopted family, who are Burmese refugees with 2 small daughters.  To keep up with the latest happeings at MINDSCAPE, like us on Facebook.     more

December 16, 2016

Don’t be too smart: the value of A/B testing.

by Stephan Hokanson

                I was watching — okay, mostly listening — to a YouTube video from Dave McClure  and four words jumped out at me: "Don't be too smart." Hence the title of this blog post. Dave was talking about Metrics and what he actually said was, "Don't be too smart; do lots of A/B tests."  Dave went on to talk about a whole bunch of other stuff, but for this post, we're going to focus on that one bit of sound advice. Here at Mindscape, we use A/B testing all the time, so Dave's comment resonated.  more

December 7, 2016

Digital Marketing: How to Change the Way You View Change

by Connor Manion

Here at Mindscape, we have a philosophy that scares a lot of people: if you think something might work, try it. I know, horrifying, right? Well, to a lot of people it actually is. There is this idea floating around that any possible change you make in your digital marketing strategy could be devastating; any subtle copy alteration, navigation change, or shift in social tone could be the destruction of your company.  Honestly, I have no idea where this fear came from and why it has any bearing on anyone's decisions. If we never tried anything new, how would we learn and grow? Every single marketing norm that we embrace today, was once just an idea in the back of some go-getters head. It's as simple as that. If you want to make your business the best it can be, you have to be willing to test things out and try new things. Below are a few things to keep in mind when trying to break away from the norm. more

November 30, 2016

3 Elements You NEED for a Successful Email Campaign

by Ashley Daniels

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November 23, 2016

3 Rules for Better Web Forms

by Stephan Hokanson

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November 16, 2016

MINDSCAPE's November Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

MINDSCAPE Matters On October 28th, the MINDSCAPE team spent a beautiful fall morning planting trees in downtown Grand Rapids as a part the Mayor's Greening Initiative Planting. It was great to see so many members of the community coming together to make a difference. To see more pictures from our tree planting adventure, visit our Facebook page! Our Holiday Gift to You: "How to Think Like Your Buyers" Join us for a special holiday Lunch & Learn Workshop. We will be discussing how to build your buyer personas by thinking about who they are, their pain points and what motivates them.  Join us Thursday, December 15th!     Class starts Tuesday, January 24th! Create & Execute: Content Marketing Strategy Our Create & Execute courses have been selling out fast! Why? Because with this course, we open our playbook and provide you with all the processes, tools and thinking you need to get started with your OWN content marketing strategy.  Case Study  How to Spend Less, While Increasing Revenue   For one of our e-commerce clients, we decided to focus on the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of spend as a % of revenue near the end of July 2016. As a result of our various efforts, overall year-over-year (YoY) performance was great, but we really wanted to step up our game.   So we set a target of achieving 10% spend-to-revenue % while maintaining our top line revenue. Here's what the client has experienced so far: August 2016: 8.7% spend-to-revenue %, YoY revenue increased 23% September 2016: 8.4% spend-to-revenue %, YoY revenue increased 24.6% And then came October 2016...   To find out what happened in October,  visit our blog!  Piece of Mind: An inbound marketing blog The Importance of Quality Over Quantity    Less is more. Quality over quantity. These old adages can hold true when it comes to gifts, interior decorating and ... digital marketing. Yes, you read that right. There are many instances in the world of digital and Inbound marketing, where quality is much more important than quality. To find out where this rule can be applied to your digital marketing efforts, click here.    more

November 16, 2016

Strange Brew: What a Tea Shop Can Teach You About Inbound Marketing

by Connor Manion

I was recently walking through the mall, doing some early scouting for the upcoming Christmas season. As I was turned a corner, I saw two employees tea shop employees standing in the entry way to their store, calling to oncoming customers. "Care to try some of our tea?" "Free samples." Being a tea lover myself and seeing that the shop may be able to offer me a few quick and easy gifts for stockings, I walked over to one of the employees and opted in on the tea tasting.  This was a mistake.more

November 14, 2016

No Picasso here. Getting real digital marketing results.

by Paul Ferrier

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November 10, 2016

4 Things I HATE About Blogging

by Amanda Brand

Recently I listened to a great speaker on the topic of blogging. Many examples were given to help explain how providing audiences with valuable content (in the form of blogs) would ultimately help generate leads. Filled with inspiration I hurried back to my office ready to work.more

November 9, 2016

The Importance of Quality Over Quantity in Digital Marketing

by Ashley Daniels

Less is more. Quality over quantity. These old adages can hold true when it comes to gifts, interior decorating and ... digital marketing. Yes, you read that right. There are many instances in the world of digital and Inbound marketing, where quality is much more important than quality. For instance: more

November 2, 2016

4 No-Brainer ways to reduce the vulnerability of your WordPress site

by Stephan Hokanson

Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of WordPress. It's easy-to-use, incredibly flexible, and the price point is right where I like it. (That would be "Free.") Those attributes have made WordPress tremendously popular as a platform, but all that traffic is like a magnet for hackers, thieves, and other malcontents. One of the big dings on WordPress was security. An old joke was, "You're running WordPress? Congratulations. You've been hacked." The good news is that the WordPress core is actually quite secure. The bad news is that there are still plenty of ways that your site and data can be exposed. The better news is that there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your vulnerability.more

October 26, 2016

9 Tools Every Blogger Needs

by Connor Manion

If you have ever started a new job you know it can take awhile to feel like one of the team. There are references to specific customers and clients, inside jokes that coworkers make repeatedly, and random nuances to the rules and procedures that take some getting used to. The same adjustment period occurs when joining most new groups or cultures. But if you are lucky, someone reaches out and shows you the ropes. As an agency, we always suggest that our clients blog. Even if we are doing the majority of the blogging, it is always good to have someone writing about the business from the inside. Our clients' staff can always offer a perspective that we can't. With that in mind, I wanted to create a post giving our rogue bloggers out there an inside look at some of the tools being used by longtime content writers. Take a look.more

October 19, 2016

3 Challenges Colleges Face When Creating Digital Content

by Ashley Daniels

Website content, blog posts, social media, emails; there are so many avenues that colleges and universities can use to create digital content and communicate with their prospective audiences. This variety can be a blessing and a curse, depending on how you slice it. But either way, it can be a challenge. We asked some of the colleges and universities that we work with what some of their biggest challenges are when it comes to creating digital content and here is what they had to say:more

October 18, 2016

MINDSCAPE's October Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

  Join us November 17th! 2016 Inbound Marketing Lunch & Learn Our Lunch & Learn Workshops have been filling up fast! Why? Because they give industry professionals a chance to come together and learn from one another. Join us and explore the challenges you are facing with colleagues and experts alike. If this is something you want to be a part of, sign up for a Lunch & Learn today!      more

October 12, 2016

How to Make Your Inbound Marketing Partnership a Success

by Connor Manion

When I was 7 years old I went to a neighborhood picnic with my family. I was wandering around the dessert table when my mom came over to me and told me I could join the  "three-legged race" that would be going on later in the night. Being a competitive little bugger (who would later become a runner) I was sure I would win, so I signed up and awaited glory.  I had no idea what a three-legged race was.  When I got to the starting line my smirk turned to a look of incredulity as I was strapped to another kid. I backtracked in my mind to see what I had missed. 'Race...I definitely heard race...but....three legs!' It was too late for me to back out now so I took my starting position and prepared myself to drag, shove, and carry the deadweight attached to my ankle across the finish line.  I heard the word "go" and took off like a rocket.....I immediately fell to the ground as the weight of my "partner" held me fast. The race was lost on the first step, I knew it, the kid attached to me knew it, my older brother (laughing hysterically) knew it. I embraced defeat as any 7 year-old would, by shouting defiance at the world. more

October 5, 2016

Content Creation: Tips & Tools for Brainstorming

by Connor Manion

When you work in a creative industry where you are getting paid for your mind more than anything else, there is a lot of pressure to generate creative, useful ideas every second of every day. If you are anything like me, half of your time is spent blankly staring at the screen, trying to think of the perfect way to say something. So how do you combat these moments? How do you make sure that when you sit down to write, design, or create the ideas are going to be ready to flow? more

September 28, 2016

Buyer Personas: Getting into Character

by Connor Manion

By now most people have heard about the controversy surrounding Jared Leto's extensive method acting while on the set of Suicide Squad, gifting cast members with items like live rats and dead pigs.  I think we can all agree that the guy took things way too far... that being said, there is something to say about his dedication to the character and role. He used method acting techniques to not just play his part—but live it. Why am I bringing this up? Recently, I have read a lot of blogs focused on how to reach buyer personas through content. A step-by-step list in one of these posts might look something like this: Step 1: Define your target demographics Step 2: What does a day in your buyer's life look like? Step 3: What are your buyer's problems or challenges? Step 4: What are your buyer's goals, problems, and challenges? Step 5: Where do your buyer's hang out? At least online.  These blog posts are incredibly valuable (in fact, we have created a few like them), but like so many pieces of content out there, they tell you how to do something without actually...well telling you how to do it.  Finding out your buyers goals is an important step to take, but discovering those goals doesn't mean anything if you don't understand why they are there in the first place. more

September 21, 2016

PPC & Inbound Marketing: Friends or Foes?

by Ashley Daniels

I am a huge fan of superheroes - Superman, Batman, X-Men; I love them all. So any chance I get to make a superhero analogy I take it, and I think this is one of those chances, so bear with me. more

September 19, 2016

MINDSCAPE's September Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

  Join us October 20th! 2016 Inbound Marketing Lunch & Learn Our Lunch & Learn Workshops give industry professionals a chance to come together and learn from one another. Through the discussions and activities that make up a Lunch & Learn presentation, you will be able to pose the questions you have and explore the challenges you are facing with colleagues and experts alike. If this is something you want to be a part of, sign up for a Lunch & Learn today!     Class starts October 18th! CREATE & EXECUTE: CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY MINDSCAPE has helped companies generate more leads, more sales and more profit for the past 15 years. Our processes have helped generate well over $1 billion of additional revenue for the clients we’ve served. We are opening our playbook and providing you with access to the processes, tools and thinking which have led to this success. We are excited to announce our 60 Day Create and Execute Program!     Case Study  Cornerstone University came to us looking to give their website a new look and feel, in the hopes that this would increase site traffic and application rates. To help Cornerstone meet these goals we improved the user experience by restructuring the sitemap and creating new user paths and new landing pages.  In year-over-year comparison, of the old site in 2015 to the new site in 2016, Cornerstone saw a: 746% increase in the number of applications received  59% increase application conversion rate  541%  increase in organic search visits to the homepage  The proof is in the numbers, a better user experience = a better performing website.      How to Get More Leads Through Conversion Rate Optimization Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a system for increasing the percentage of visitors that convert into customers or leads by taking the desired action (like downloading a content offer or filling out a form).  Any changes that you think about making to your website to help improve conversions should be informed by user feedback and cold, hard facts like: Bounce rate - percent of people who leave the site after viewing ONLY ONE page Exit rate -  percent of people who leave  the site after viewing A SPECIFIC page Average time on site - how long a person is on the site during a single session Average page views -  how many pages the average visitor goes through before leaving While analyzing the stats is crucial for optimizing your website, at the end of the day it's really all about knowing your target audience (or personas, in Inbound lingo). It's about knowing what they want out of a website experience and what types of content they are most responsive to.  To read the rest of this post, visit our blog!           David's House Ministries Walkaton At MINDSCAPE we love our clients!    We had an amazing opportunity to really get to know one of our newer clients David's House Ministries this past weekend. We were blown away by all the hearts that are touched by the work being done at David's House. In broad terms the ministry provides care and facilities for adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain-injuries. But after spending a few hours with the families that attended the walkathon we learned David's House Ministries is so much more! It is peace of mind, a support system and an extended family for 37 residents and their families.   If you would like to learn more about David's House Ministries you can request information or schedule a visit.  Tell them the MINDSCAPE crew sent you!    more

September 15, 2016

Inbound Marketing FAQ

by Ashley Daniels

Investing in an Inbound Marketing plan can be a big step, so naturally, it raises a few questions and concerns. I asked our Business Development Manager some of the questions he is asked most frequently when having conversations with potential clients about Inbound Marketing plans.more

September 13, 2016

Content Creation: What Should I Write About?

by Connor Manion

My girlfriend likes to test me from time to time. She likes to subtly slip little questions into our everyday conversation to see if I know things. Her favorite color, favorite animal, what kind of ice cream she likes best (trick question, she's lactose intolerant).  Over the years, I have gotten pretty good at paying attention to the little stuff and answering these questions without a second thought... but for some reason, I never know what to get her for her birthday. more

September 8, 2016

How to Get More Leads Through Conversion Rate Optimization

by Ashley Daniels

Jane owns a small coffee shop in a busy metropolitan area. As a responsible business owner, she is aware of how many people come into her shop, what they order, and if for some reason they leave without ordering anything (something she notices has been happening more often lately).more

September 7, 2016

6 Digital Marketing Acronyms You NEED to Know

by Ashley Daniels

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September 1, 2016

Blog Writing: The Basics of SEO

by Connor Manion

You have been told time and time again that blogging can help drive traffic to your website, but the problem is, no one ever seems to tell you how to drive traffic to your blog post. And if your blog post isn't receiving views, how is it supposed to help your website? more

August 30, 2016

Email Marketing: What are good click-through and open rates?

by Ashley Daniels

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August 25, 2016

How to Stay Ahead of the Digital Marketing Curve

by Connor Manion

  The world of digital marketing has changed a lot over the last 20 years, and it looks like it is going to keep on changing. It seems like there is always some new piece of technology to try out or forum to explore. So with all this "new," how are you supposed to stay ahead of the marketing curve? What can you do to make sure you stay competitive?  Well, we  have  little advice on that front...more

August 23, 2016

What is White Hat SEO?

by Ashley Daniels

In the Wild West (or at least how it's portrayed in the movies) the "good guys" wore white cowboy hats and the "bad guys" wore black cowboys hats. But "white hats" and "black hats" aren't just for the Wild West anymore, now they show up in the technology sphere. Recently, the term "black hat" has been used to describe computer hackers, virus creators, and others who perform unethical actions with computers. Some of these unethical actions can include aggressive SEO tactics, like:more

August 18, 2016

How to Create a Call-to-Action that Converts

by Connor Manion

  I have a dog named Boon. Our relationship is shaky at best. He barks loudly during designated quiet hours, and I am more likely to say "who's a dumb dumb doggy?" than "you're a good boy, yes you are, yes you are," (He can't tell the difference people, trust me). more

August 17, 2016

MINDSCAPE'S August Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

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August 16, 2016

Fishing for Buyer Personas

by Amanda Brand

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August 11, 2016

Voice vs Tone. What's the difference?

by Ashley Daniels

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August 9, 2016

Inbound Marketing: "Create and Execute" Training Course

by Connor Manion

So, you've heard of Inbound Marketing and want to start creating content. But you don't know where to start. You've thought about hiring a consultant to help you get more traffic and more leads, but you have allocated your resources elsewhere.  What can you do?more

August 4, 2016

Digital Marketing: A Guide to Reaching Millennials

by Connor Manion

  I remember the day I found out... I was hunched over my typewriter drinking an Ethiopean blend in my favorite ripped flannel, non-prescription, wide-framed glasses askew on my face. My favorite Queen vinal was playing in the background making perfect time with the tapping of my fingers on keys. I began mouthing the lyrics to "Don't Stop Me Now," I was in my element. That is....until my father walked in. "Seriously??" he laughed. "You freakin' hipster Millenials! Get a job and get out of my basement!"  I took the news hard...I could handle the hipster part  (chicks dig the scrawny, sensative poet type), but a Millennial..? Me? I knew I would have to confront the fact eventually...I mean I was born in the 90's so I guess I always knew...I just never thought I would have to face the truth so soon.  I. Am. A Millennial.  more

August 2, 2016

How to Build a Better Landing Page Form

by Ashley Daniels

I hate small talk. I really, really do. I just don't see the point in it. Two people locked in a conversational script  littered with generic questions and answers that leave the participants equally uninterested and uninformed. Why bother?more

July 27, 2016

Blog Storytelling: Why Informative Writing isn't Enough

by Connor Manion

I read a lot of fantasy novels. A LOT. Lord of the Rings, Name of the Wind, Furies of Calderon. You name it, I've read it (and probably have an overly impassioned opinion on it).more

July 26, 2016

Inbound Marketing: Advice for Beginners

by Connor Manion

Fresh out of college, a skip in my step and a twinkle in my eye, I walked into my first job interview with MINDSCAPE. My shirt was freshly pressed (thanks, mom) and my hair was freshly greased (thanks Old Spice). more

July 21, 2016

July Newsletter

by MINDSCAPE

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July 20, 2016

Facebook Live: Simple Tips for a Social Media Marketer

by Connor Manion

  Over the last year and a half we have seen the rise of live video streaming. Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have gained popularity quickly, and appear to be formidable ways to engage audiences. But I will be honest with you... I am not a believer in this "live streaming craze" or rather...I wasn't. more

July 7, 2016

3 Ways You Can Use Gamification to Increase Your Bottom Line

by Connor Manion

If you read our post "4 Reasons Gamification is the future of Digital Marketing" you probably have some insight into what gamification can do for your business. However, we left out one very important benefit of Gamification (on purpose).  Gamification Can Be Used Internally In the past we have mostly discussed the use of Gamification as a form of customer interaction, but this is only one way you can use it to help your business thrive. Beyond being used to improve customer interaction, Gamification can be used to motivate and engage your employees.  How? Well it is simpler than you might imagine.  Gamification plays off of our basic desires and instincts. Our instinct to win, our desire to prove ourselves; the basic tenacity and determination that comes with good old fun and competition.  Gamification engages us in all of these ways and more.  Let's take a look at the 3 ways you can use Gamification to increase your bottom line. more

June 30, 2016

4 Reasons Gamification is the Future of Digital Marketing

by Connor Manion

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June 23, 2016

5 Steps to Starting Your Vlog

by Connor Manion

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June 21, 2016

3 Ways to Improve Your Brand's Personality

by Connor Manion

If you read our previous post "Who Has Time for Social Media Marketing", you should have some working knowledge of social media marketing and the benefits it provides. But even with the use of social media forums such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you may be looking to add a little flavor to your brand. Here are three methods sure to help you show your brand’s true personality.more

June 17, 2016

4 Ways Your B2B Company Can Use Snapchat

by Ashley Daniels

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June 15, 2016

Is Your Website Providing Value to Your Customers?

by Pete Brand

Do you have plenty of people going to your website, but leaving before doing anything? Has this led to you believe that your website is a useless marketing tool for your business? Before you tell your IT team to hit the “DELETE” button on your website file server, let’s walk through a couple things to determine if a there may be a simple fix for getting your website heading in the right direction.more

June 10, 2016

How to Choose the Right Social Media Channels for Your Organization

by Ashley Daniels

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June 9, 2016

5 Steps to Build a Consistent Stream of New Website Visitors

by Pete Brand

Are you struggling to gain traction with your digital efforts because you’re not receiving enough traffic? Do you receive constant complaints from your sales team about the lack of (or quality of) the leads you receive with the anemic level of traffic you are receiving? If these challenges sound familiar, you’re not alone and will definitely want to read on. Follow these 5 steps and I'm confident that your website will start to generate more quality leads. more

June 1, 2016

The Website Performance Hierarchy of Needs

by Pete Brand

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May 27, 2016

3 Best Things You Can Do With HubSpot Workflows

by Ashley Daniels

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May 25, 2016

4 Statistics That Prove the Importance of Inbound Marketing

by Ashley Daniels

Sometimes the proof isn't in the pudding at all -- it's in the numbers. If you understand the powerful data behind Inbound Marketing, you might realize it's worth a second glance. While it's not as familiar as some of the traditional outbound marketing tactics, it's actually much more effective.  By the numbers, Inbound Marketing has Outbound beat.     1. Inbound Leads are 61% Cheaper than Outbound Leads Maybe you enjoy watching your ROI plummet and your bank account balance dwindle as you throw more money at television advertisements or outbound calls. But we're guessing you don't. When you spend money on marketing, you want it to come back to you -- with interest. That's exactly what Inbound Marketing provides. According to a  Business2Community infographic, Inbound leads are 61% cheaper than Outbound leads. In other words, you spend less money to gain each lead, which means you can divert that cash to other (money-making) pursuits.     2. 44% of Shoppers Start with a Search   When was the last time you considered a potential purchase? If you think back to the moment the idea first occurred to you, you'll probably recall pulling up your browser and Googling it. Your customers act the same way. They don't want to buy a product off the shelf or purchase a serivce unless they know how much it costs, what its features are, and whether it has gotten good reviews. All this focus on search makes Inbound Marketing king, especially since 44% of shoppers begin the buying journey with a simple search.     3. 80% of Business Buyers Prefer Content to Ads   If you think inbound marketing only works for B2C companies, check the stats. According to Impact, 80% of B2B buyers want to get their information from detailed, engaging content instead of through advertisements. In other words, they want to be educated instead of pitched. You probably hold a similar view. Ads are intrusive, noisy, and distracting. Content offers real value, which makes it indispensable if you want to gain market share. Since Inbound Marketing is based on content, it's the perfect place to start.     4.  60% of Your Competitors Have Already Started If you're still not sold, look to your left and right. The companies that you compete with for customers and brand awareness have already launched their own Inbound Marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, that means they're skipping ahead down the customer-acquisition path while you lag behind. But don't worry, since the number of marketers using inbound hovers at around 60 percent, you can launch your own inbound campaign and start making up the difference. Creating blog content, connecting with your prospects via email, and engaging with your audience on social media can all have a tremendous impact on your market reach. Now that you're equipped with the facts, it's time to give Inbound Marketing a shot. We're here to answer all your questions and help you navigate through these waters, so request a consultation today.more

May 23, 2016

Social media is about the community -- not about YOU!

by Pete Brand

We've all seen them -- the infamous "Self Promoters." These are people and companies who use social media as a platform to pound their own chest, and talk about how great they are. In fact, you may be one of them! (Don't worry -- we're not here to judge, we're here to help!). It's very tempting to use such an open platform to try to get your own message across to as many people as possible. We get it.more

May 18, 2016

How to Breathe New Life into Your Marketing Emails

by MINDSCAPE

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May 16, 2016

Why Even the Most Specialized Companies Need Inbound Marketing

by Pete Brand

Inbound marketing makes perfect sense for companies that sell large volumes of products directly to consumers. Prospects click on an advertisement or social media mention and head straight to the virtual check-out line. However, don't discount inbound marketing if you operate in a super-specialized niche. You can still generate revenue and increase market reach.more

May 13, 2016

GatherContent: A Must-Have Tool for Content Creation

by Ashley Daniels

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May 11, 2016

How to Build the Best Website: 2016 Edition

by Jeff Bell

Remember the last time you redesigned your website? How long did that process take and how pleasant was it? If you're like most, chances are the project took far more time and money than you care to remember! Did the site perform better? Did it get you more leads, more sales or increase your margins? I sincerely hope it did, and congratulate you on being in the minority if that is the case!more

May 9, 2016

How to Create the Ultimate Social Media Style Guide

by MINDSCAPE

If you read my post, Who has time for Social Media Marketing, you know that a social media style guide is crucial for business success today. It’s the rule book for how social media managers will create messaging on social. It’s similar to a writing style guide or content style guide, and will cut the time you spend debating what to post in half!more

May 6, 2016

SEO and PPC: The Yin and Yang of Search Marketing

by Jeff Bell

We often have the opportunity to work with many different agencies throughout our client partnerships. Sometimes we will do design work while another agency builds the site. Sometimes we build something that was designed by another agency. Those type of situations work very well because the functional behavior of the end product doesn’t depend upon the design work. In fact, in these situations, each agency can challenge the other to ultimately produce a better result.more

May 5, 2016

Why Getting to #1 on Google Isn't a Business Goal

by Pete Brand

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May 2, 2016

The Best Way to Build a Website is Through Growth Driven Design

by Jeff Bell

Let's be honest. Building a new website sucks! Sure, it starts out fun when you get to see new design concepts but that's typically where the fun stops abruptly. It can take months to build out the site and get it up on a content management system. After that, the hard part starts. And in our experience, this is the part that can literally take months to complete - getting content into the site. It sucks! A lot. more

April 29, 2016

The Way Millennials Buy: Lazy or Smart?

by MINDSCAPE

On Monday, Pete wrote a post all about Millennials and their misconstrued reputation. As a Millennial, it really got me thinking about one of the claims against Millennials that Pete disagreed with: Millennials are lazy. As much as I’m flattered Pete had our backs, I do think there’s some truth behind this statement, especially when it comes to the way Millennials buy.more

April 27, 2016

3 Reasons Your Content Isn't Ranking in Google Searches

by Pete Brand

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April 25, 2016

Change is Already Difficult, Don’t Make it Harder

by Pete Brand

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April 22, 2016

Who has Time for Social Media Marketing?

by MINDSCAPE

Let’s face it-who has time for social media? Well, let me rephrase that…we all seem to have hours on end for our own personal social media, but who has time for social media marketing?more

April 20, 2016

Average is Overcrowded: Part Two

by Pete Brand

My last post was a bit different than the majority of the content we share on the MINDSCAPE blog as it related more to personal positioning than it did to  marketing.  The interesting thing about personal positioning is how closely it’s actually related to your marketing and the positioning of your company and the products and services you offer.  This post will showcase the similarities, as well as the pitfalls to avoid with your marketing.more

April 18, 2016

Average is Overcrowded: Part One

by Pete Brand

This post was orginally published on August 22, 2013, but is still relevant. Enjoy! Average is a word used to describe mathematical statistics or to show a comparative value to others.  The words common, typical or ordinary could be used to replace the word average.more

April 15, 2016

4 Website Development Tips for Startups

by Paul Ferrier

When you're launching a startup, you have a million things on your mind: how do you connect with customers, who will you use as suppliers, and how many employees do you need? Don't let all those other necessities distract from your most powerful marketing tool: your website.more

April 13, 2016

Java, JavaScript and jQuery (Or What’s With All the J’s?)

by Matt Brand

 This blog was originally published on March 15, 2012, but is still relevant. Enjoy! Technology is full of confusing terms, and building websites is no different. As a developer or as a person in need of a website, you will no doubt encounter a number of acronyms and words that you either don’t understand, don’t want to understand, or that just plain make you want to cry a little bit out of sheer frustration. DNS? PHP? .NET? IIS? Apache? Joomla? Drupal? CMS? IE? FF? The list grows longer and your attention span grows shorter. I’ll not bore you with all of the acronyms now, I’ll just save that for another post. Instead, I want to shed a small ray of sunshine upon a dark corner of confusion.more

April 11, 2016

3 Tips for Creating a Winning Blog 

by Pete Brand

  Hopefully you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve accepted the fact that blogging is critical to your digital strategy, and most importantly, to attracting strangers to your website. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably noticed how difficult it is to determine which blog posts will be a “hit” and which posts will attract little to no attention.  There have been many times where I’ve excitedly published a blog post and sat by my computer anxiously awaiting the views to start rolling in, and I’ve heard nothing but crickets. This can be very frustrating considering how much energy and excitement I invested into the post, and yet it just didn’t seem to be enough. If you’ve found yourself in a similar position, I’d like to encourage you to take a deep breath and not take it personally. It’s important to remember the main strategic initiative of your blogging efforts is to position yourself, and your organization, as a thought leader to the personas you serve so they begin to view your website as a valuable resource they can turn to in times of need. Keeping this in mind, there are a few things you can do to help position your blog posts so they are more likely to gain the level of exposure you’d like them to.more

April 8, 2016

What Does Google's Right Side Ad Removal Mean for Your Digital Strategy?

by Paul Ferrier

Every time marketers get comfortable with Google's secret sauce, the search-engine giant changes its recipe yet again. Recently, Google announced that it would remove its right-side ad spots from the SERPs (search engine results pages), which of course meant that half the Internet marketing population experienced a temporary mental breakdown. Now that the news has sunk in, however, it's time to examine what this move means for your digital strategy.more

April 6, 2016

Why Your Website's Photography Really, Really Matters

by Mark Swanson

  If a picture is worth a thousand words, a really bad picture may be worth 10,000.   Photography really matters. Probably even more than you think.   The quality of the photography on your website directly relates to the perceived quality of your business. This means you could have the greatest product in the world, but if the photography is bad, people are also going to think the product is bad.  more

April 4, 2016

Writing Inbound Content? Consider These 7 Things

by Ashley Daniels

Writing a piece of inbound content can be a lot like planning for a trip. I know, this sounds kind of out there but let me explain. I would be willing to bet that when you are packing for a trip you make a list of items to pack and things that need to be done before you take off on your adventure. more

April 1, 2016

Thought Leader Series: What Story is Your Brand Telling? And Who's Telling the Story?

by Mark Babbitt

Now that we're almost a decade into the Social Age, storytelling has become a hot topic; there's no end to the advice being dispensed through stories. But a problem remains: in those stories, even the best of them, we're talking about us, our people or our technologies. With each story, we're still marketing or selling. And today, no one wants to be sold to. Our customers expect more. They want partners who collaborate to find the just-right solution. They expect engagement. But first, they seek trust. Which means your brand must have the right story...and the right people telling that story. The Testimonial Economy We now live and work in the Testimonial Economy. What does this mean? Very little credence is given to what a company, brand - or even a person - says about themselves. Instead, we care more about what others say. Reviews on Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor and hundreds of other sites carry weight, while those talking about themselves carry mere words. Which means we must make our best customers - and our best employees - advocates of our brand, brand champions. We must help them be so comfortable with our people, products and services they're willing to put their personal reputations on the line to recommend us. Because it's their stories about us that makes all the difference. First: We Listen Some brands figured out this 5-star mentality some time ago. They gave discounts, even free product, for submitting a 5-star review on Amazon, for example. Or they filled TripAdvisor and Glassdoor with fake testimonials. They bought their reputation; they sold their digital soul. However, as they quickly learned, these stunts were superficial. These customers weren't serving as ambassadors, but paid spokespeople. Mistrust developed. And when mistrust lingers, and expectations aren't properly set, failure is imminent. The most successful businesses can say this. Can you? As the Social Age matured, so did the stewards of our brands. We learned that we must listen first. We must understand exactly what our customers think of us now. For brands that were used to telling their customers what they wanted, this was no easy task. The Tough Conversations The bold companies - organizations like Apple, Zappos, Nike, Southwest and Virgin - started the tough conversations with customers and employees. What do you like about our brand? What are we doing well? What can we do better? What would you like to see from us next? Have we earned your respect, and trust? Those companies then took what they learned...and got even better. And as trust formed, those customers and employees became brand champions. They - through review sites, Amazon, social media, job boards, and break rooms - became the voice of the brand. A Community of Storytellers Someone has a good flight on Virgin or Southwest. Buys a great pair of sneakers from Zappos or Nike. Is the first of their friends to get the new Apple product. We all hear about it. Because in the Social Age, everything is amplified. A sincere tweet is echoed dozens of times. A post on Facebook gets hundreds of views. A good deed goes viral on YouTube, Yahoo, Business Insider and Huffington Post. But not because the brand spokesman stepped to the podium. Or because the press release went out on schedule. And not because we bought a full page ad in USA Today or had the best Super Bowl ad. But because we treated a customer or an employee right. And they, through a good story, told their friends. What does your brand stand for? What's your story? And who's telling it? Interested in learning more about how to tell your story and build your business? Request a consultation today!more

March 30, 2016

Tough Love: 5 Hard Truths About Inbound Marketing You Need to Know

by Ashley Daniels

Inbound marketing sounds fairly simple. After all, millions of teenagers "create content" on Facebook and Instagram every moment of their waking hours. Some even have followings in the quadruple digits. However, true inbound marketing is neither simple nor easy -- at least, not when it's done correctly. More than 90 percent of purchase decisions don't start with a television commercial or billboard, but with an online search. While inbound marketing helps you appear in those search results, you have to let go of the toxic myths that often pervade inbound marketing conversations and instead embrace these five hard (but important) truths.more

March 28, 2016

Is Your Website Ever Really Dead?

by Pete Brand

I first became involved in website and application development 17 years ago, when it was a fledgling concept with very few rules or established best practices. Back then, the only thing marketers felt they needed was an “online brochure” that covered who they were, what products and services they offered, and provided contact information just in case someone was interested in calling or emailing.more

March 25, 2016

Thought Leader Series: Is Your Branding Message Consistent Across All Channels

by Susan Payton

 more

March 23, 2016

The Death of the Slider

by Mark Swanson

  Sliders, Rotators and Carousels. It doesn't really matter what you call them, but chances are, you know what I'm talking about. (and in case you don't it's the thing at the top of the website that cycles, usually unrelated, text and images). And it’s also quite possible that you think no website is complete without one. But you're wrong! I'm going to take the next several minutes to dispel that myth and hopefully, put these ancient artifacts of the web to bed once and for all.   You can call them whatever you want, but for the sake of this article, I’m just going to call them sliders. They’re a staple of the website of yesteryear. They're that old friend at the party (usually me) who's long overstayed their welcome. The problem is, a lot of people still think that guy's the life of the party, when in reality, he needs to be kicked out  and never invited back.   At MINDSCAPE, we deal with modern websites on a daily basis. We create them and we look to them as a source of inspiration. The problem is, if you're not actively seeking them out, a truly modern website is still hard to come by.   The thing is, most websites were last redesigned years ago, so while they’re using outdated techniques, we still see sliders everywhere. And since we see them everywhere, we just assume we need one on our site.  more

March 21, 2016

How to Improve the ROI of Your e-Commerce Marketing

by Paul Ferrier

more

March 18, 2016

3 Content Migration Tips Every Marketer Must Know

by MINDSCAPE

So, you've made the decision to change CMS (content management system) platforms. Just like buying a new house, packing up and moving can be an exciting, yet frightening experience. With a new strategy, a new admin panel and a fresh new design, it's easy to lose sight of one critical piece: content. It doesn’t matter if you're transitioning to Wordpress, Magento, BigTree or any other CMS, these tips will prepare you for a successful move! And, more importantly, let you show off to your colleagues.more

March 15, 2016

Uber Driver Tragedy and Contextual Advertising Gone Wrong

by Pete Brand

On February 20,  2016  Kalamazoo, Michigan experienced one of the worst tragedies to ever occur in the city. Residents were terrified as the news began to spread that there was a killer on the loose.  The authorities finally detained the gunman and details started to leak out through the media that the gunman was an Uber driver, and he committed 6 murders in between picking up people who had arranged for a rides through the Uber app. Which probably sent Uber reeling.more

March 14, 2016

How to Get Inside the Heads of Your Buyers

by Pete Brand

Do you feel like you know who your customers are and what’s most important to them? I don’t believe a marketing professional or business owner has ever admitted to me that they don’t know their customers or understand their most pressing problems, and I don’t blame them. Of course you have a solid understanding of who you serve, and how you solve their issues. If you didn’t you’d probably either be out of business or looking for a new job. The more specific questions I’m asking are … Do you know your customers intimately and understand the complexities they face in life outside of the areas in which you can provide support? Do you fully understand their motivations, desires, concerns, or any resistance they might have in choosing the solution you provide? Most importantly, when it comes to connecting with them online, do you understand the specific language they use? If you can answer the questions above in the affirmative … CONGRATULATIONS! I’m sure your business is growing and you’re creating a bunch of rabid promotors of your Brand. Customers love it when they can tell a company has invested the time and effort to truly understand what is most important to them. They typically reward this effort by opening their checkbooks and telling others about the phenomenal experience they had with your organization. On the other hand, if the questions above give you an uneasy feeling in your stomach, don’t worry. I’ll give you some ideas that you can utilize to efficiently get inside your customer’s head, and use the insights you gain to provide an experience that makes them want to tell everyone they know about your company and how well you’ve taken care of them. It is never a waste of time to invest in gaining a deeper understanding of your buyers, it’s a requirement!more

March 11, 2016

Most Commonly Asked Client Questions: Part 1

by MINDSCAPE

In our 15 years as a digital marketing agency we’ve been asked almost every question a client could possibly ask. Everything from, “Shouldn’t my logo be bigger?” to “Can I have an animated frog hopping around the bottom of each page?”. Although some questions are asked more frequently than others, there are some consistently asked by our clients. Here are just a few of them…more

March 9, 2016

Despite What You May Think … Your Business Isn’t Unique!

by Pete Brand

I went out for a nice long hike yesterday to take advantage of the “warm” (42 degree) Michigan “winter weather” and started to reflect on some of the recent conversations I’ve had with business owners and marketing professionals regarding Inbound Marketing. more

March 7, 2016

4 Reasons Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Isn't Working

by Ashley Daniels

You've devoted time and energy to your Inbound Marketing campaign, but you're seeing less-than-stellar results. Maybe your conversion rate has fallen or your website traffic has reached new lows. Even worse, perhaps you're seeing little sales growth.more

March 2, 2016

3 Benefits of Inbound Marketing to Achieve Digital Success

by MINDSCAPE

If you've never seen Inbound Marketing in action, you may be wondering: What advantages does Inbound offer? How do businesses use Inbound to increase brand awareness? What can you expect in terms of conversion rates and website traffic? Read on to find out the benefits Inbound can bring to your digital marketing strategy.more

March 1, 2016

Stop Wasting Your Money On PPC Advertising

by Pete Brand

Are you held accountable for increasing the number of visitors to your website and you’ve turned to PPC as the answer? Have you found it challenging to prove an ROI on your PPC advertising campaign? Did you hire a media agency to come in and “save the day” but have had a less than satisfying experience?more

February 25, 2016

6 Reasons Your Organization Must Blog

by Pete Brand

If you’re like the majority of the marketing professionals in the world where your stomach gets tight the moment you read, or are told of the importance of blogging, it might be due to the fact you already have too much on your plate, you don’t consider yourself a writer, or you’re stumped as to what you’d write about anyhow. more

February 23, 2016

Thought Leader Series: Are You Paying Attention to the Right Marketing Metrics?

by Susan Payton

  Face it: There's a lot of data out there, and it's not always useful. We're generating more data than ever, and it's understandably become a challenge to know what to sort through and what to throw out. As difficult a challenge as it is to pay attention to marketing metrics, it's also essential for growth. Just realize that what another company is measuring might not be what you need to measure. Find what's important to reaching your own marketing goals, and devise your own system for measuring results.more

February 18, 2016

Email Marketing Isn't Dead...

by Ashley Daniels

You've probably heard people say that email is dead, that it's too old school and not an effective marketing tool anymore. Well, they're wrong. According to HubSpot, 76% of marketers use email more today than they did 3 years ago. more

February 9, 2016

Responsive Website Design: A Must for Getting More Leads

by MINDSCAPE

Think about the last time you glanced at your smartphone screen. Was it five minutes ago? Ten? Perhaps even twenty? Today's adults are as glued to their mobile devices as their teenage kids, constantly responding to text messages, searching for content, and checking emails. This is why responsive website design is critical to your ability to generate leads for your company. Without it, consumers just like you who check their smartphones before they pour their first cup of coffee in the morning won't bother with your site because it doesn't render properly. Worse, they'll hit up your competitors instead.more

February 2, 2016

We are Hypocrites: Our Inbound Marketing Results

by Paul Ferrier

I've threatened to write this post for a long time. Too long. There are two reasons it's taken a while for it to happen:more

January 28, 2016

How to Organize Website Content

by Jeff Bell

Whether you’re creating a new site from scratch or just giving your site a facelift, content on the site can be a challenge to deal with. Inevitably, there is always either too much content or not nearly enough! In this blog post, we won’t be dealing with creating content as much as we’ll be dealing with how to go about organizing your existing content!more

January 21, 2016

Why Inbound Marketing is the New SEO

by Pete Brand

I’m sure your inbox gets cluttered each week with the “We can get you to #1 on Google” SEO emails (just like mine does), and you’ve probably been receiving them for a long time. Based on feedback from client's we've acquired after trying these services, they will leave you very unsatisfied. Their success will be measured by achieving a top rank for your company name or some obscure keyword that never provides leads or new customers. That's best case. Most received no results at all except a debit from their bank account.more

January 19, 2016

Example: Turning great content into valuable content

by Paul Ferrier

We mostly work with large corporations that require a lot of privacy, so we're often not able to share specific thoughts and ideas on the work we're doing with them. But in a fun exchange with a local photographer last week, I feel I shared some quality advice about turning great content into valuable content for his business and he agreed to let me share the exchange with you.more

January 14, 2016

How to Approach Blogging: 22 Blogging Styles

by Pete Brand

You’ve probably heard the cornerstone of Inbound Marketing, as well as being found online, is to consistently create compelling and valuable content for the personas you serve. And the most effective way to do this is through blogging. This post will help demystify blogging and help you with your planning so you’re not stuck staring at a blank screen as you attempt to tackle this profitable activity.more

January 7, 2016

How to Prove the Value of Inbound Marketing

by Pete Brand

Are you tired of watching your competition continue to grow through their online efforts while you’re struggling to gain any traction at all?more

January 5, 2016

5 Things to Consider When Selecting A Content Management System (CMS)

by MINDSCAPE

Choosing the right content management system (CMS) for your business can be a daunting task. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when making that decision: more

December 30, 2015

Measuring an Awareness Campaign

by Jeff Bell

Originally published on August 5, 2011 and continues to be relevant. Enjoy! As a service provider, we often have clients ask us to help them “increase awareness.” As one of the people responsible for wrapping this often undefined goal in some metrics, I’ve had to figure out what this really means. Often clients aren’t able to distill this goal down into something measurable. But, to gauge our effectiveness, it’s critical that we work together to do so. I’ll attempt to reveal some of the measures that CAN be used. However, as with all things like this, before adopting them for your awareness metrics, make sure these are really measuring what your specific goals are. When speaking of “awareness” what we usually mean is brand awareness. We want people to think of us when doing something related to our cause, our company, or our product. When defined in this way, it becomes a little clearer what things are important to measure.more

December 28, 2015

Top 5 MINDSCAPE Blog Posts of 2015

by Ashley Daniels

With everyone looking back on the past year, we thought it would be a good time to take a trip down memory lane and look back on our blog posts of 2015. Here are our 5 most popular blog posts of 2015:more

December 23, 2015

2015: The Year We Gained Independence & Our Identity

by Pete Brand

As each year winds down, it’s always nice to take note of the memorable events, express gratitude for the people in our lives who have made a difference, and even take some time to look at those things that didn’t go so well so we can learn and help steer clear of any avoidable issues going forward. This post is from the perspective of MINDSCAPE.more

December 21, 2015

Inbound Marketing Predictions for 2016

by MINDSCAPE

What predictions do you have for inbound marketing in 2016? With 2016 on the horizon, that's the question we asked the MINDSCAPE team. Read on to find out what some of the team is predicting.more

December 17, 2015

Improve Your Digital Marketing: Calculate the True Cost of Inaction

by Pete Brand

Please raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself haunted by the fact that your competition is kicking your ass online. You know what I’m talking about… Every time you do a search on Google for the products and services your company offers you see the same competitor at the top of the list and your company is nowhere to be found! To make matters worse, once you leave the search results page you are followed around by that same competitor’s ad on almost every website you visit. Even on Facebook, where you attempt to escape to throughout the day; it’s almost as if they are taunting you for your lack of digital prowess. How long are you going to let this happen before you do something about it? Hey, I’m not trying to rub salt in your wounds, I’m simply trying to motivate you to do something to improve your situation and your company’s revenue. The more the question above pisses you off, the more motivating it should be. You’ve known for some time now that you and your marketing team are struggling in this area right? Let’s take the next few minutes to examine just how much it costs to continue to do things the same way without taking action to reverse your position and begin to dominate your dominator. To do this we’ll need to gain an understanding of a few metrics before we can calculate how much it could be costing you to allow this situation to play out each month.more

December 15, 2015

Twitter for B2B Marketing: 5 Tips to Get Started

by Ashley Daniels

Twitter: The place to be for B2B inbound marketingmore

December 10, 2015

5 Ways to Add Holiday Cheer to Your B2B Marketing

by Ashley Daniels

The holiday season is upon us, so the web is filled with festive marketing campaigns and holiday themed content. If you’re thinking holiday marketing is only for B2C organizations, you’re wrong!more

December 8, 2015

3 Inbound Marketing Trends this Holiday Season

by Ashley Daniels

'Tis the season of holiday marketing with these 3 trends! more

December 3, 2015

Can your Landing Page pass the Blink Test?

by Mark Swanson

5 Tips to Make your Landing Pages really take offmore

December 1, 2015

Caution: #GivingTuesday Could Be Detrimental to Your Organization

by Pete Brand

I must admit I initially loved the concept of #GivingTuesday and how it’s a nice invitation to help others beyond our own friends and families.  The timing couldn’t be better since everyone is already softened up and looking to do nice things for those we care about. more

November 24, 2015

Growth Driven Design: What it is & its benefits

by Ashley Daniels

Growth Driven Design Real business value in a fraction of the time.more

November 19, 2015

#TBT: 3 predictions in '99 by Bill Gates that helped shape today's inbound marketing landscape

by Ashley Daniels

Here's a great Throwback Thursday for you. In honor of Bill Gates’s 60th birthday, Entertainment Weekly re-released the interview they did with Gates that appeared in their January 2000 issue. The interview took place after his presentation at the Streaming Media West ‘99 conference where he discussed technologies Microsoft had on the horizon.more

November 17, 2015

3 Reasons to Consider Long Form Content

by Ashley Daniels

It is often said attention spans are shorter and shorter, people can’t focus and are always on the go, much like the hare from the old children’s story we all know, The Tortoise and the Hare. While many people do enjoy sharing quick things like funny animal videos or a list of top 10 vacation spots, content marketing platform Buzzsumo discovered after analyzing 100 million articles that people enjoying and sharing long form content (the tortoise of the content industry) is on the rise.more

November 16, 2015

Welcome Our Top Notch Talent

by MINDSCAPE

As a team and as a company, we're constantly evolving to ensure we're positioned to provide our clients with great results and great service. CEO Pete Brand says, "We're excited for these new additions to the MINDSCAPE team.  We are continuously seeking top talent which fits within our unique culture, and we feel we've hit the mark with Emily and Ashley." We are pleased to announce our recent additions! Please meet...more

November 12, 2015

Buyer Persona: Get to know Small Business Sandy

by Ashley Daniels

Buyer personas & why are they so important when creating inbound marketing content According to Hubspot, buyer personas are “fictionalized, generalized representations of your ideal customers”. These representations contain a wide array of information about your buyer, such as:more

November 10, 2015

Looking to Spice Up Your Online Marketing Mix?

by Ashley Daniels

Try These Inbound Marketing Tips How would you describe your organization’s online marketing mix? Is it like chicken noodle soup? While it may be satisfying it just doesn’t have that extra oomph and excitement of a dish like chicken curry.more

November 5, 2015

Your Content Strategy Needs a Content Calendar

by Paul Ferrier

Originally published on July 17, 2011 and continues to be relevant. Enjoy! How do you develop quality online content? What does a good content strategy look like? How is your content strategy tied to your Web marketing and SEO efforts?more

November 3, 2015

3 Inbound Marketing Tips for the Holidays

by Pete Brand

With the holiday season fast approaching, I’m sure you’ve started planning for how you’re going to take advantage of the time when consumers are eager to pull out their wallets and pony up their hard earned cash to purchase your wares. If you haven’t thought about it yet, or if you’ve been struggling to come up with ideas on how to take advantage of the period of retail abundance with your website, don’t worry, it’s not too late!more

October 29, 2015

14 Critical Elements to Build Into Your Content Marketing Budget

by Pete Brand

As you work through your strategic planning process, you're probably required to submit your marketing budget for the next year. The following are the top items you’ll want to consider as you determine what your team can handle, and where you’ll need to bring in outside expertise.more

October 27, 2015

Comparing client success & failure with digital marketing

by Paul Ferrier

Your success with digital marketing can be amplified dramatically if you're doing this right...more

October 23, 2015

5 Reasons Content Marketing Is Effective

by Pete Brand

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the phrase “Content is King” millions of times and, you’ve possibly struggled with how the heck you’re going to create the amount of content required to help you achieve the goals necessary to get in a favorable position with your boss.  Or, you may be wondering if “content marketing” is all it’s cracked up to be and worth investing your limited resources on planning, creating and promoting content. The facts are that 81% of shoppers conduct online research prior to buying.  A whopping 94% of B2B buyers conduct research prior to making a purchase.  The main tools both types of buyers use are search engines and social media.  The bottom line is … If you aren’t consistently creating and distributing compelling content online, there is about a 100% chance these buyers won’t find you and you won’t be considered.more

October 20, 2015

4 Tips to Improve Lead Generation

by Pete Brand

If you happen to be in charge of marketing for your organization, you’re probably judged by the volume and quality of your lead generation.  Unfortunately there are far too many organizations who depend on a subjective analysis of that quality, and that typically leads to a finger pointing match, instead of a constructive conversation over how to increase the volume and quality of those leads.  The following are some tips you can use to make you the “hero” by increasing both!more

October 15, 2015

4 Steps to Increase Your Website Traffic

by Pete Brand

One of the top questions we receive from prospective clients when they reach out to us is, “can you help us increase our website traffic?”  You’d think, based on what we do, that this would be a logical request and one which we’d happily answer, “Sure we can!”  Strangely, there are many times when this question is asked and our response is, “that’s not really what you need.” Although traffic is an extremely important piece to the puzzle, it’s critical to make sure that when you open the “spigot”, that you’ve got a solid platform to send them to that delivers an awesome user experience and makes it easy for your visitor to accomplish what they arrived there to accomplish. Let’s assume, for the purpose of this post, that you’ve already addressed the middle of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel and you are ready to tackle the top of the funnel and tap into a steady flow of visitors to your website.  If you haven’t, you may want to bookmark this post and come back once you have.  Remember:  It’s not about the quantity of traffic you get to your site, it’s about the quality.  If you want to drive more quality traffic that converts, follow these four steps.more

October 13, 2015

Inbound marketing: It's sexy and valuable [Annual Report]

by Paul Ferrier

Hubspot released their 7th annual report on the State of Inbound Marketing over the weekend. And while the report clearly indicates that marketers who prefer inbound are the smartest, best looking people in the world, there’s fantastic data that you will find very helpful and relational for any size B2B, B2C, or a non-profit organization.more

October 13, 2015

Don't date and dump, continue to delight after the sale!

by MINDSCAPE

Unlike the neglected sneakers I keep under my desk for the day I will begin to take brisk walks after my lunch of kale and quinoa, the shoes of real runners are treated with respect. They know that their choices in footwear are a critical part of their success to prevent injury and to improve performance and enjoyment. A recent conversation about using data at the office brought up an idea we recommended to a running shoe retailer. After discussing how to create a valuable customer experience, we realized that the best approach was to foster a relationship that extended well past the sale.more

October 8, 2015

Big Data Helps Marketers Do These Two Things

by Pete Brand

Big data. It’s a phrase you’ve heard a lot the last few years. It's a $125 billion industry. But what is it, really? Big data is simply the practice of collecting large data sets that can be analyzed to show patterns, trends, and associations, especially for consumer behavior. The latest stats indicate that 90% of the world’s data has been generated in just the past few years. more

October 6, 2015

7 Reasons your Digital Strategy isn't Working

by Pete Brand

One of the most frustrating experiences for a marketing professional, or a business owner, is to invest time and energy into your marketing and receive less than desirable results. As much as you’d like to deny it, without effective marketing, you will struggle to accomplish your sales goals.more

September 30, 2015

4 Steps to Design an Optimal User Experience

by Pete Brand

Can you remember a time where you visited a site and it felt as though the company knew you very well and were able to anticipate your every move before you made it? How about a time when you visited a site and the user experience was so clunky and disjointed that you ended up with your blood boiling as you clicked the “back button” on the browser while making the decision to NEVER do business with a company that cared so little? The following steps will help you create a user experience that wins you customers instead of alienating them through frustration!more

May 4, 2015

Get started using Facebook to drive eCommerce sales

by MINDSCAPE

Whether you’ve just opened for business, or you’ve been selling online for years, you’ve probably thought about or tried to increase your sales using Facebook marketing. The bad news is that most businesses get this very wrong — often alienating their Facebook fans by pelting them with a barrage of sales pitches and promotions. The good news is that it IS actually possible to increase sales through Facebook (without turning your profile into a huge electronic billboard).more

April 22, 2015

Now's the time to optimize your website for mobile

by MINDSCAPE

At MINDSCAPE, we have been advising clients to build mobile-optimized sites for years, mainly because of the dramatic improvements to the user experience when using a mobilemore

April 13, 2015

6 more lead generation myths busted

by MINDSCAPE

Everybody wants more leads these days! Whether it’s growing your email subscription list, identifying buying prospects, or just forming relationships with individuals interested in your industry, collecting the contact information for individuals is one of the best ways to effectively sell your products and services.more

January 13, 2015

2014: A Year In Review

by Pete Brand

WOW! Have you ever had one of those years where you are celebrating New Year’s Eve and you’re struggling to understand how an entire year could have passed since your last celebration? If so, then you know exactly how I feel about 2014!more

August 7, 2014

5 Hurdles to Digital Success

by MINDSCAPE

McKinsey’s annual Global Survey came out in June, and what I found most interesting was that although respondents say their CEOs are more involved in digital marketing efforts than ever before, there are some pretty major hurdles for most large organizations to really see the impact of what digital can do.more

July 21, 2014

Peace, Love and Belonging...Did AirBNB Just Invent A Cultural Symbol?

by MINDSCAPE

Can a company brand a feeling? Because AirBNB has just announced their new logo includes the Bélo, a symbol that represents “belonging.” “Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind. So to represent that feeling, we’ve created a symbol for us as a community. It’s an iconic mark for our windows, our doors, and our shared values. It’s a symbol that, like us, can belong wherever it happens to be.” Founded in 2007 by two guys who wanted to share their idea of seeing the world via coach surfing, now valued at $10 million, AirBNB is a company that helps you rent your home or find one to rent when you travel. Beyond online travel booking, it offers a non-touristy option for travelers who want an authentic “like the locals” experience.more

March 13, 2014

Using Index-based Metrics for Effective Online Marketing

by MINDSCAPE

Online marketing success has an ever increasing importance to your business’ success. For a lot of businesses this is known, but it’s hard to be effective since the web is evolving at an exponential rate. As online marketers, we have found digital data to be one of the primary keys to grow such success. Due to these benefits of data, more data is being created and analyzed every day. Now we are in an era where the term “big data” is a common term in everyday business. With the vast amount of available data points, we have realized that watching all of them is inefficient and can cause more harm than good when just one of these data points experiences significant change. To combat this fear, we have developed computed aggregates of metrics that represent one, more complete metric. It’s easier to watch and tells a broader story. This may seem like a new approach or that we’re masking the details unnecessarily however, let’s remember that this is not a new method. The stock market has done it forever and at such a success level that the DIJA, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have continuous coverage on every news outlet.more

March 11, 2014

Silly SEO, Content is for Humans!

by MINDSCAPE

Imagine Sit back, take a deep breath, and imagine with me for a moment. Imagine that you could read the minds of anyone with whom you came in contact. You could read their emotions and their motivations. You would know what they wanted to hear and exactly what to say. You would understand what they wanted to achieve. You could take all of your insights and combine that with the person’s surroundings; you would know what they were doing, where they were currently and where there were headed, if they were using a mobile device, and a myriad of other small details. If they asked you a question, you could take all of this information and respond in a way that would perfectly meet their needs at that moment. If for some reason you didn't meet their expectation, you could know that and change your response. Wouldn't this be great if communication worked this way?more

February 11, 2014

Everything Required for SEO You Learned in 5th Grade English - Part 2

by MINDSCAPE

In Part 1 of this series, the understanding and reasoning behind unique context and intent was discussed. Through some feedback, it became apparent that the most intriguing parts of the article happened closer to the end where I started to hint at the applied use of this theory. I thought there would no better way to help others than to show an example of this taking place. So for this part of the series, we will breakdown Google's site structure for its own product – the Nexus.more

February 6, 2014

Content and Social Media go Together Like Amazon and FedEx

by MINDSCAPE

There are many times when presenting a solid Content Strategy to our clients that some confusion sets in when they don’t find the details on the exact direction for writing a post, or insight into how many followers they will gain on a particular channel. Yes, social media is a huge part of the efforts, but it is important to look at them separately.more

February 4, 2014

Everything Required for SEO You Learned in 5th Grade English

by MINDSCAPE

All too often - and way too much in my opinion - I read the top online marketing articles referring to keywords being lost and no longer available inside of Google Analytics. Coincidentally, after those articles are a few articles about writing good content. These two concepts are intimately related. At some point, I expect the masses who bolster these “keywords are gone and we’re all going to die” articles into my view will move beyond that narrow view of search marketing to fully understand the interplay between keywords, intent, and content. Until then, and for those of us that look to the future, here is a glimpse from behind the magic curtain.more

December 20, 2013

MotoX Ad is Brilliant Union Between Digital and Print

by Jeff Bell

Have you seen this new interactive MotoX PRINT ad from Motorola? Mimicking the product’s website, the device changes color when you touch it. Here’s the link to the video for your reference: http://youtu.be/iMrZmSPpIRwmore

December 17, 2013

The NEW SEO: Now Bigger AND Smaller Than Ever!

by Jeff Bell

The other day I came across a great article on Search Engine Watch. Truth be told, I happened to see the article on Jim’s screen and the headline caught my attention. At any rate, I found it to be right on point and it supports a little phrase I’ve enjoyed using the last couple of months – SEO has become both bigger and smaller at the same time. Let me explain. SEO used to be all about tactics. SEOs could crawl into a corner, build links, create a solid foundation for a site, keyword stuff body copy and headlines, then sit back and watch their SERP position increase. There are, in fact, many agencies still doing this. SEO was very tactically driven with little strategy actually required. SEO could effectively be done inside of a silo.more

November 5, 2013

Ford.com: A Lesson in Data-Driven User Experience

by Paul Ferrier

During a meeting yesterday, I pulled up Ford.com to help illustrate a point I was attempting to make. While I was talking, Amy Snell pulled up the site as well, but didn't see what I was showcasing. It wasn't just different copy or a little detail, the entire design was different. This made me smile.more

October 17, 2013

Bing It On: A Risky Win

by Paul Ferrier

Bing has a website that allows you to compare their search results to Google's. With 5 queries, you receive two blind search results side-by-side with no branding, and you're asked to choose the one you prefer. Think of it as a blind taste test of search.more

October 15, 2013

Take the Long Way Home

by MINDSCAPE

Think about your day. How much of it looks like the day before or two weeks ago? We truly are creatures of habit, often more than we’d like to admit. Now think about a change you’ve tried lately. If you love change, maybe it was something major like a new relationship or a new place to live. If change isn’t really your game, maybe it was a new restaurant for dinner or a new way home because of road construction. Sometimes change is forced upon us and we must react. This often causes us the most stress, especially for those of us that like to be in control. Other times, we get to make the change ourselves. We see a new opportunity and we seek it out. This often causes adventure or new experience which may lead to something else we never thought would result.more

October 10, 2013

Why keyword (not provided) isn't really so bad

by MINDSCAPE

With all the news regarding the disappearance of keywords from Google Analytics, there is a lot of commotion in the SEO world. At MINDSCAPE, we don’t think there is reason to be all that worried. A few years ago, when Google began to make clear their intention to decrease the importance of keywords and raise the importance of content, we were confident that our time-tested approach to web development and digital marketing was right on target. For our partners, we have always focused on keyword research (for volume and relevance), and on building a site map that assigns one primary keyword “theme” per page. For those with whom we partner, this means two things:more

October 2, 2013

UX Fail: Jimmy John's New Site

by Paul Ferrier

There are two things we do a lot of here at MINDSCAPE. One is user experience (UX) design. The other is order Jimmy John’s. JJ’s is easily a team favorite, often with JJ branded cyclists making the trip to our office several times a day. After many years, they finally revamped their site. Along with their new look, they also created a new online ordering process. I love their new design. Actually, I love all their marketing. But there’s a minor issue with their “Repeat This Order” feature that would be super simple to correct, and here it is:more

September 19, 2013

What is the Most Important Question to Ask

by MINDSCAPE

Think of the scenarios in which you begin the dialogue with a question (just like this post). Maybe it’s an interview with a potential candidate for a critical role at your organization. Or maybe it’s an initial phone call with a potential candidate describing the services your team can offer. Or maybe it’s a question you ask yourself as you complete a project. The majority of our effective interactions with people involve meaningful questions. Listen for this in your next few discussions. Then listen for the questions people use to get to the heart of the needed conversation. Are they the right ones?more

August 27, 2013

Are you Likeable?

by MINDSCAPE

That might be a tough one to answer.  You’d like to say “yes,” but you need to really effectively reflect to know the true answer.  And why do you care, anyway?  How often do you hear people say…I don’t care what other people think about me.  The truth is, they do care and they should.more

August 20, 2013

Data Driven Performance Optimization: Generating millions of dollars in revenue using data [brief case study]

by Paul Ferrier

One of the most common "strategies" we're asked to develop is based around increasing traffic to a client's site.more

August 15, 2013

The Best Idea is Never The First Idea

by MINDSCAPE

Ever felt the pressure to come up with a good idea?  A really good idea?  Because it was going to be the difference maker for your career; significantly increase your course grade or impress someone important to you.more

August 8, 2013

Buzzfeed – Good For Users, Great for Advertisers

by MINDSCAPE

Here at Mindscape, we often get contacted by people who find us online by looking for “creating an online buzz.” Yes, we can help you do that. I love having these conversations because it gives us an opportunity to talk to lots of really unique organizations, from musical artists to technology start-ups.more

August 6, 2013

Notes from Drupalcon #2–Designing on Purpose

by MINDSCAPE

I had the good fortune to attend Drupalcon in Portland, Oregon this year. This series of blog posts will recap what I learned while attending the Business  + Strategy category of sessions.more

August 1, 2013

Communication is Key!

by MINDSCAPE

Being a newlywed, I receive a lot of advice from friends, coworkers, family, and even complete strangers. Usually, the advice comes whether I want it or not. However, of all the advice I’ve received, the phrase that has stuck with me the most is, “communication is key.” Having been married now for almost a year, I can’t express how valuable that advice is, and will continue to be, throughout our lives together. If you can’t communicate with those closest to you, how can you expect to be successful in a world where communication truly is….key.more

July 30, 2013

How Would I Recognize Your Confidence?

by MINDSCAPE

Confidence!   If you’re truly confident, you follow it with an exclamation point, not a question mark. more

July 25, 2013

Notes from Drupalcon # 1 – Internal Open Source

by MINDSCAPE

I had the good fortune to attend Drupalcon in Portland, Oregon this year. This series of blog posts will recap what I learned while attending the Business  + Strategy category of sessions.more

July 23, 2013

Google: Big (Ad) Brother?

by Paul Ferrier

Today, in my email, I noticed the following ad:more

June 12, 2013

Fresh Off the Vine - How Businesses are Utilizing This New App

by MINDSCAPE

Is your business using Vine, yet? Did you know businesses are using Vine? Click to watch the MindscapeTV episode about Vine! Vine is a video app that allows you to record a six-second clip. The short clip will loop, creating a gif, which can then be shared on Facebook and Twitter. Your video clips can either be six consecutive seconds, or you can stop and start as much as you please until you’ve reached your six-second limit (which is a fantastic invitation to create videos reminiscent of stop motion).In case you’re not familiar, Vine is considered to be an app from Twitter, but it actually started out as a three-man company before Twitter acquired it in October of 2012, before it even went live. Twitter officially launched Vine in January of 2013 and it quickly climbed the ranks to become the #1 free app on Apple’s App Store within six months of its acquisition. Should you be using Vine? Twitter seems to care greatly about Vine, and its users are constantly on the rise. So, where does that leave businesses? Is Vine beneficial for everyone, or just pet owners, parents of small children, and amateur video enthusiasts?more

May 31, 2013

webTRAIN Update - Adaptive Images

by MINDSCAPE

We've been working to solve a puzzle on webTRAIN for a while, and we're happy to let you know that we are rolling it out this week. Tablets and smartphones make up a large portion of web surfers now, and it's growing every day. The problem is, they rarely have the same internet speed available to them as desktop users. That means the large, amazing image on the front of your website takes an awful long time to load up on a phone or tablet. We've been able to get around this issue on a couple of specific sites through some hard work and javascript magic. But what we really wanted was a way to send the correct image size to all devices without having to do something special to each image.more

May 16, 2013

Thank You for the Digital Communication Lesson, Abercrombie & Fitch…

by MINDSCAPE

If you haven’t heard, Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is currently embroiled in yet another major PR gaffe for his 2006 quote: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.” Alas, this isn’t yet another blog about how his company is contributing to bullying and eating disorders.more

April 16, 2013

Reflections on Team Building and Project Management

by MINDSCAPE

I’m not sure I ever realized the value of “team-building” until I came to Mindscape. As our company has continued to grow from 12 people when I started to nearly 30 now, it’s more important than ever that we like each other. I don’t just mean as colleagues, but as people too. Mindscape has created a culture where this is possible. Each year, we go on a company trip that brings us together as an entire group. What I wanted to do was take that to a smaller level just for the people on my specific team. So we headed out to a Project Management conference in Chicago. Considering that my group is made up of 3 men and me, it was a little daunting for me as a new, female manager. I am definitely happy with how well the trip went and how much everyone seemed to get out of the seminar. Here are some of the things I took away from it both as a new manager and as a PM.more

April 11, 2013

Launch it now

by MINDSCAPE

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the internet. It isn't real. Yes, you can log on the internet and it will show you things. You haven’t imagined it. In that sense, it’s real. But it isn't real like a car or a building or a plane. Those objects can be touched. Those objects have to be built. And those objects are not easy to change once they are in use. Product recalls are what happens when “real” products have to change. On the internet, it’s a whole different story. One day a website has just one page, the next day there are a dozen. One day something is broken, the next day it isn't. One day you can’t build a thingamajig, the next everyone is thingamajigging.more

April 9, 2013

What Do You Think Of Me or Us?

by MINDSCAPE

First impressions…always available, never able to recreate. At least for the same audience. What’s the impression you make to your different audiences? Whether online or off; within your peer groups; your customer meetings or your personal interactions. Do you really put the time/energy into making it memorable (in a good way). Or do you rely on the same ‘ole same ‘ole, because it works pretty well. Well, whichever option you use, it has a result. My challenge to you is to reflect on those results. Are you getting what you want, or are you settling for what you receive?more

April 4, 2013

webTRAIN Framework Update

by MINDSCAPE

webTRAIN just underwent a big update. Although it’s a massive upgrade, nothing has visibly changed for you. Let me tell you what the big deal is.more

March 28, 2013

Model View Controller for Server and Client Programming Pattern (MVC Squared)

by MINDSCAPE

Over the past few months, I have been deep down the rabbit hole with .NET MVC web application projects. A pattern of development emerged out of these months of work, which I want to share with you today. I am not sure what to call it, but MVC Squared seems to fit. In reality, it is more of a .NET model-view-controller server side design with a view-controller, view-model client side design. One night I sat down to create a pseudo flow chart of my idea, so others working with me could critique it.more

March 26, 2013

What makes the Modern Website Modern?

by Mark Swanson

This post has been republished here from its original source. As the years come and go, the types technology we use to access the web change and our approach to web design and development changes along with it. What made a good website five years ago does not make a good website today. When meeting with new clients, one of the first questions I ask is "What sites do you like and what do you dislike?" The answers are all over the board, but what I don't really see are examples of beautiful, modern websites that represent what it means to have a real online presence today. It becomes difficult for clients to understand what to expect from a modern website, as most of the sites they are seeing on a daily basis are not the types of sites we are striving to create at MINDSCAPE. This article aims to describe what I think constitutes a modern website in 2013, highlighting the way web design has evolved over the past several years. My hope is to illustrate to our partners the technology that's available to us today and why you should be taking advantage of it.more

March 21, 2013

What's Your Meaning of Value?

by MINDSCAPE

This word is used often, maybe too often. Because it is so open to translation. Accountants value the word value – see it’s a verb and noun, differently than a sales person. And a sales person interprets value differently than a customer. You can be sure a hiring manager looks at the value of a candidate differently than the candidate considers the value of employing him/her. But, if a candidate even goes through this process, they’re ahead of most.more

March 19, 2013

The Myth about Code Ownership

by MINDSCAPE

First off, let me be clear. There are many situations when it makes sense to own the source code to any web asset a business may own. Integrated web services with back office operations, complex enterprise security or just a really unique web experience where the code becomes intellectual property. These are all examples where ownership, title rights and interest to every line of code, is recommended. But, in terms of most web site needs, do business owners really want to own the actual technology that their website site is on? There are many in “the industry” that would find that question profound. I think it’s a question worth asking and one that isn’t asked enough.more

March 14, 2013

A Faceted Search Solution for Drupal

by MINDSCAPE

This post has been republished here from its original source. I recently had to add a search filter to a Drupal site where the user can filter down criteria to find a reduced listing of products. This is called Faceted Search and is a common navigation technique on ecommerce sites. Think of the left side of Amazon’s site where you can pick Toys then filter down to a specific department and age group. Exposed Filtersmore

March 12, 2013

Mobile Application Options

by MINDSCAPE

The mobile application landscape is rapidly changing and evolving. New tablets and phones of all shapes and sizes are being conceived, created and released at an ever accelerated pace. Google’s Glass and Apple’s iWatch are confirmed and rumored new form factors just around the corner. There are mobile websites. There are mobile applications. There are mobile application stores. There are even multiple ways of distributing mobile applications. Clearly the options and possibilities are vast and potentially confusing. At MINDSCAPE, we typically take the approach of assessing a partner’s need and then compare that to the current and future mobile landscape to find the best fit. Today’s mobile development options generally fit into one of three basic types:more

March 7, 2013

Are QR Codes Really Dead?

by MINDSCAPE

What is a QR Code? “Quick Response Code” is that weird looking square bar code you've probably seen in print ads or on a postcard, and for half of you, maybe even have scanned (per eConsultancy). A user can scan this bar code with a smart phone and be taken to a landing page to take a specific action. A few months ago, Forbes Magazine proclaimed QR Codes dead, but are they really? Like many new tech trends, the world may have moved too quickly and customers may have dismissed their usage too quickly to really allow marketers to embrace them properly.more

March 5, 2013

Cache and Cookies. Mmmmmmm

by MINDSCAPE

If you want to sound like a web pro, there are definitely a few buzz words you can throw around to sound like a smarty pants. However, fancy words don’t mean much if you don’t know what they mean. With that in mind, let’s shine a little light on two of the most common web terms: cache and cookie.more

February 28, 2013

Web Acronyms 101

by MINDSCAPE

It’s easy for digital novices to be intimidated when people throw around terms like “SEO” and “PPC” and “URL,” if they speak another language in their daily work lives, like accounting or manufacturing. I recently broke one of my own rules by bandying phrases like these during an initial meeting with a new partner. After I was politely interrupted by a brave engineer, “Excuse me, but what is SEO?” I realized with regret that I had started at level three when I should have started at level one.more

February 26, 2013

Driving While Eating, Conversing, Searching.

by MINDSCAPE

Remember the last time you multi-tasked? Are you listening to music, talking to another person or engaging in your mobile device while reading this post? Then you are multi-tasking as you read. Good for you! Or not. We’ve become a society of multi-doer’s. In fact, it seems almost impossible to escape this lifestyle, except for those rare occasions where we’re remote and unable to access technology. But even then, we’re likely to be performing something other than just having a conversation or engaging in a specific task. But, at what cost?more

February 21, 2013

Choosing the Right Front-End Framework

by Mark Swanson

This post originally posted at mark-swanson.com CSS frameworks have been around for awhile. They've just changed a lot in the last several years. What started out as basic fluid or static grid systems have now evolved to include Javascript libraries, responsive layouts, more robust user interface elements and advanced typography.more

February 19, 2013

The Value of a Mistake

by MINDSCAPE

We all make mistakes. They may be big mistakes with far reaching repercussions, or small mistakes that no one else sees, but we all make them. There are two ways to react to your own mistake; accept responsibility or make excuses. When you make excuses, you aren't learning how to get better. You are learning how to blame others. There is no growth in an excuse. When you accept responsibility for what happened, even if it was not your fault or there are legitimate extenuating circumstances, you can then evaluate and learn from what happened.more

February 14, 2013

Google Search Release

by MINDSCAPE

webTRAIN’s latest upgrade brings a few new features and some bug fixes. The biggest new feature is the ability to integrate Google’s Site Search directly into your site. Learn what’s involved by reading this article.more

February 12, 2013

Death to the Desktop App

by MINDSCAPE

About a year ago, I came to a very enlightening epiphany as a developer: building a desktop app sucks. I was writing the application in C#, thinking I was ahead of the times using a modern and advanced language. While C# is great, my execution of it was well behind the times. I was creating a Windows Form application, all well and good when developing on my local machine. However, when it came time to deploy my application, my brain practically exploded from all the hurdles I had to overcome. It wasn't until after this process that I realized how much I hated (most) desktop applications. Here are just a few of the problems I ran into.more

February 7, 2013

Know Your Audience

by MINDSCAPE

Language is one of the most important aspects of our culture. Early communication among humans was limited to characters and drawings. Gradually, we learned how to form more sophisticated versions of these symbols into words. And words were formed into sentences which lead to the ability to write stories. Today, we’re still storytelling. Stories usually impact our communication most effectively. They’re more memorable than facts alone and they evoke some type of emotional response for the reader. Our agency is filled with storytellers. You read many of them here, in our Mindscape blog. Our stories span many topics, but the intention is consistent. We’re trying to help our partners better understand their businesses, their clients or working with us. And in a way that informs, has meaning and provides inspiration.more

February 5, 2013

Creating with a Constraint

by MINDSCAPE

When I was in school, it was rare for me to finish a report before the deadline. It really did not matter if the professor gave me a day, a week, or a month to complete it; I didn’t complete it until just before class. Part of the issue for me was prioritizing. It always seemed like a night playing basketball or video games was a higher priority to me than finishing a paper I had another week to finish. But it was not just priority. It’s the constraint that a deadline gives. With no constraint, I have a hard time conceptualizing what to do with the excess time. If I thought the paper would take three hours, what would I do with the other hundred hours I could use?more

January 29, 2013

How To Improve Local SEO Through Directory Listings

by MINDSCAPE

When you think of improving your visibility on local searches, do directory listings immediately come to mind? Perhaps it’s time that they do! Local directory listings play an integral role in boosting your organic search rankings and building your credibility. Turning to Google or Yahoo for information has become second nature for most, and directory listings have come to dominate the local search results pages. Search engines and individuals both heavily rely on directory listings to have as much accurate and consistent information about a business as possible. Business listings that show up on local searches are free to add and claim, meaning they’ll take up little of your time and none of your money, thereby producing results with little effort on your part.more

January 24, 2013

Marketing Goals and Objectives - But This is HARD!

by Jeff Bell

I have had many opportunities to help our client partners develop digital marketing strategies. One of the first things we require our partners to do is complete a Measurable Marketing Success workbook. It’s a pretty simple document that basically allows us to record our partners’ goals. It continues to surprise me how difficult a chore this can be for most companies. If a client partner engages MINDSCAPE the first step is to sit down and fill out this workbook. If the partner has never thought about goals or objectives before – this is a challenging document to complete. And it should be!more

January 21, 2013

99% Of The Time It Works, Every Time

by MINDSCAPE

99%. It is a number that induces feelings of security, reassurance, and steadfast. In most cases, this is a proclamation of surety that makes the boss happy. However, when it comes to computers, 99% simply isn’t perfect. So you’re ready to go forward with your new idea for a website. You start to do some research and find some hosts boasting of 99% uptime. Sounds good right? But what does that really mean? Let’s take a look: 365 day in a year, times 24 hours a day equals 8760 hours in a year. If your site is up 99% of the time, that means its down 1% of the time. 8760 x .01 = 87.6 hoursmore

January 8, 2013

Hello Future

by MINDSCAPE

Ahhhhh, the future is good. It has descended upon us, oh so subtlety and most of us never even realized it. The technologies available now make our lives incredibly more convenient than they were even 5 years ago. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of my favorite tools that should change your mind.more

January 3, 2013

The Power of an Hour

by MINDSCAPE

I have been meaning to finish the novel I started in college since, well, since I started it in 1998. That’s a whole lot of time spent thinking about it, fretting over it, and ultimately not doing anything about it. It seems there is always something more important to do or something easier and more enjoyable. Last year I made it a goal to finish writing a novel. Sure, it still was not the story I started back in college, but I was bound and determined to finish writing something. But there was still a hurdle in the way, and I am willing to bet that it is the same hurdle that many of you face when looking up at a goal from the ground floor.more

January 2, 2013

I'm a Blogger-Reader, Not a Blog-Writer

by MINDSCAPE

Being a part of this industry sometimes taints our team members’ perspectives of how others view our work. Like, doesn’t everyone understand why creating compelling content is so important? Or why managing your online presence by offering something of value to your stakeholders will make a difference for your organization? The answer is no. Which leads to opportunities for us to often begin a relationship with the process of educating. Just read some of the other posts from my team members, Rebecca Dutcher and Erin Jones. They begin relationships with our new clients, by sharing solutions we can provide. Sometime solutions for problems our clients don’t recognize exist. So, what does this have to do with my topic of blogging? Well, it’s really the same concept. Managing your personal presence online can make a difference for you – personally and professionally. And doing this by creating content (words or images) that is insightful, can help others.more

December 27, 2012

Above My Door it Reads, Carpe Diem

by MINDSCAPE

My dog loves to run with me. The minute I put on my running shoes, he heads to the bathroom where he knows I keep his leash. I don’t even think I love running that much. So, why is it that dogs love to go for a W-A-L-K? And why do young children just naturally want to run, skip, or hop. You hardly ever see a child under five that is just walking, unless being aided by the hand of an adult. Well, I can’t answer those questions, without looking more indepthly at the sociology of our society. What I can do is probe for ways to encourage myself and others to want to run out the door and face what’s next. The phrase above my kitchen door reads “carpe diem.” I don’t honestly feel like seizing the day, everyday. But, most days I do. I’m generally energized to take on the challenges of the day whether it involves work, teaching, running kids around or something just about me.more

December 20, 2012

Termed Employee Relationships Gone Good

by MINDSCAPE

Relationships change all of the time. Some are more lasting than others, depending on the circumstances. And today with technology tools like Facebook it’s much easier to continue relationships that might have otherwise ended. In another post, I talk about how we need to spend as much effort on our internal customer relationships as our external ones. But, what happens when that internal customer is no longer “internal” to our business? Natural evolution. People leave companies and move on to new opportunities. And organizations ask people to leave when their skills or performance no longer fit or there are financial constraints. The majority of us have experienced this, except for the few brave souls who have always been entrepreneurs or have only had one employer.more

December 18, 2012

The Needed Think:Do Ratio

by MINDSCAPE

Can you do without thinking first? Can you think without having done before? I’m not trying to begin a philosophical read here, but rather trying to share the context of a few conversations I’ve had in the last couple of weeks. Let’s recognize that we all need to be thinking all of the time, or life just doesn’t work. Some people just seem to be more purposeful about it. Not that all thinking should be purposeful, some of it should involve building dreams and seeking out possibilities. People who have the ability to create these types of visions within organizations are often called leaders. But, leaders don’t exist in specific positions, they’re among us at all levels of an organization. These individuals may have started out as the kids who always asked “why” and just never stopped. They are the Contributing Team Members (CTM’s) who always have a new inspiration to do something radical or make a minor change that improves a process or final result. These people have mastered the idea of “what ifs…”, but may have a more difficult time in carrying out these ideas.more

December 13, 2012

Give Your Talents Away

by MINDSCAPE

It’s the time of year when we’re feeling generous.  We’re in the mood to spend money on others, even people we don’t know.more

December 11, 2012

Franchise Website Marketing

by MINDSCAPE

Why Franchise’s Should have a Network of Websites Franchise businesses have a unique opportunity to leverage the power of online marketing (SEO) at both the franchisor and franchisee level. As search results become more localized and focused on the searcher, branching out into a network of websites can open up exceptional results from search and brand recognition. Often the corporate franchise website will represent the entire entity as well as a page or two for each location. All of the information visitors find in search will be from the corporate prospective and lead them to a location page where the visitor can find a little bit about the franchise in their area. Search engines see this as only one website. A network of franchise websites, meaning each location has its own website, will deliver more opportunity to be found in search. Local websites will also allow each franchisee to tell their story, share local images, testimonials and more information geared for their area than could ever be included on a single corporate site.more

December 6, 2012

Talk to the Hand (Raisers): Sell More, Sell Faster

by MINDSCAPE

I recently met with a B2B firm who is hoping to dramatically grow sales as quickly as possible. Their dilemma is how to make this happen with the most return on their investment. They feel that hiring an outside salesperson to pound the pavement and the phones is the surest way. Sooner or later, someone is bound to be in the market for what they’re selling and they’ll be in the right place at the right time to make a sale. It could take 10 cold calls to get a meeting or it could take 50. Once they get a meeting, how much time will it take to convince the prospect that they need the service? And then, that they’re the best company to offer it?more

December 4, 2012

Creating More Usable Forms on Desktop and Mobile

by Mark Swanson

One of the biggest usability problems I've run into when viewing sites that are not properly optimized for mobile is forms. They can look terrible, be incredibly difficult to use and are something to be avoided at all costs. Let's be honest, forms are generally cumbersome to use on desktop. They always have been. All of these flaws are amplified when you cram them into a 3.5 inch screen. So what can we do to make the experience better? Last month, I attended a workshop at An Event Apart Chicago, put on by Luke Wroblewski. He had some really great ideas on web form usability -- especially in the mobile context. The workshop really got me thinking about all the things we could be doing to create better experiences. So, with some inspirate from Luke, here are several things we can do right now to create them.more

November 30, 2012

HTML-Generating Classes Using PHP's __toString() and ArrayAccess

by MINDSCAPE

One of PHP's strengths that I like the most is its versatility as a prototyping language. While the venerable MVC and friends are important in a large project with a lifespan measured in years, sometimes you just need to jot up a quick utility script or internal tool. In these cases, PHP's global context and loose typing really shine as you can mash everything into one sloppy file to start with, then gradually refactor logic out into functions and includes. That said, I've never liked mixing languages in the same file.

scans pretty easily, but any more complicated than that and it gets pretty unreadable pretty quickly. It can also do a real number on syntax highlighters, which makes debugging a painful process. For generating well-formed XML of any dialect, you can't get much more thorough than PHP's built-in DOM implementation but there's nothing concise about it, and I'm trying to be fast, here.more

November 29, 2012

Is the Googlebot executing javascript?

by MINDSCAPE

I received a cryptic message from Eric Patterson, one of our Software Engineers today. He pointed me to a javascript error report that he noticed while trolling through them and eating lunch.more

November 27, 2012

I'm Not Leaving the Company, I'm Leaving You

by MINDSCAPE

You’ve probably heard this phrase before…people leave managers, not companies. Let’s explore this idea a bit. I can find all kinds of surveys that ask people why they quit their jobs. And I can find a variety of answers that give further insight. There are differences of course, just like there are differences in people. One thing stands out, however, and that is the health of the relationship between a Contributing Team Member (CTM) and his/her manager relates directly to overall satisfaction with a company. Why is this relationship so critical? Because for the most part, your manager is the daily “face” or “voice” of your employment brand (I’ve talked about this concept in a previous post). Your organization doesn’t greet you in the morning, provide you with challenging work or give you feedback on your performance. But, your manager does. And how this person handles those roles and communication opportunities is how you largely measure your satisfaction with your organization.more

November 21, 2012

The Hidden Complexities of Programming

by MINDSCAPE

I respect people who work with their hands. I have some small idea about what it takes to change my car’s oil, or put in a new pond in the back yard. But I don’t know what it takes to rebuild a car’s engine or design the landscape for a new shopping complex. I have some small idea what it takes to put a laminate floor in a living room, but no real idea of what it takes to organize multiple companies to complete the renovation of an old theatre. I don’t have any desire to muddle around in those sorts of professions. It seems difficult and time consuming to me and I acknowledge that much of my perceived difficulty lies in my lack of knowledge for that industry. I’m alright with that, because I work in an industry that people have an idea about, but may not know all that goes into building a full project. Computer programming, and the web specifically, is my industry. And like me and changing my car’s oil, you know how to open a browser and navigate to your favorite website. But do you know what it takes to build that website? Well, that’s quite a large question, and involves gathering technical requirements, architecting the data structures, designing the look and feel of the site, programming the site, testing, deployment, scope changes, and analyzing the data once the site is live.more

November 20, 2012

Principles of Interaction Design every Web Designer Should Know

by Mark Swanson

If you're a Web Developer or Designer, you probably hear about Interaction Design all the time these days. I hear it a lot at work. After a bit of reflection, a lot of Web Designers would probably say "I already do that." Others might be intimidated by the term, confused about what Interaction Design actually means as it pertains to their job. And that's the thing. Interaction Design applies to all sorts of things, not just Web Development. Interaction Design is about understanding the behavior of people and how they use your product. Although its sort of a buzzword that's popped up in recent years, Interaction Design has always been a component of good Web Design. As our technology becomes more advanced, so do the interfaces and experiences we can dream up and bring to life. Interaction Design is a bigger component of Web Design now because we are viewing our content on laptops, smart phones, tablets, televisions and all kinds of other devices. Those are all unique experiences and we have some great tools at our fingertips to make each of them great.more

November 15, 2012

The Importance of Personal Branding

by MINDSCAPE

Big brands and little brands work really hard clarify their message; what makes them different or better than the others. They spend hours identifying how they want to be perceived in the market, who they want to emulate or personify as a brand. What brands stand out in your mind? What thoughts come to mind when you hear Ford, Chevy, Starbucks, BP? Think about those brands for a minute. Now, what’s your personal brand? Who are you? What do you stand for?more

November 2, 2012

Data test: how do Facebook's "promoted" posts REALLY work?

by MINDSCAPE

This post was originally published on creativewebbusiness.com. There's been a bit of a kerfuffle lately in the Facebook marketing community regarding the changes the platform has been making to its newsfeed algorithms. Late in September, business pages began to notice engagement rates with their posts dropping through the floor. The reason is that REACH - the number of people seeing the company's posts - has plummeted as a direct result of Facebook's latest newsfeed algorithm changes. This has been going on slowly for many months, but this month it reached a head. Facebook's official statement regarding the algorithm changes is as follows: "We're continuing to optimize News Feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories. This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family." Huh. So that's how they're going to play it.more

October 25, 2012

Can Anyone "Do" SEO?

by MINDSCAPE

Let's face it, SEO (search engine optimization), or SEM (search engine marketing), can be elusive terminology. What is it? What does it mean? Who can do it? How hard is it to learn? Can I do it myself? In an age where information is just a Google search away, we can learn about anything, anytime, from nearly anywhere. SEO/SEM is no different - anyone can learn how to do it, much like you can learn how to do lots of new things by researching online. You can learn how to repair a clothes dryer, install a door, build a website and much, much more. Not that you’d want to take those things on yourself. But, how does the quality of the work compare with professionals? The role of an SEO "professional" changes constantly. While your company may be interested in SEO for your website, you're really interested in online success. Marketing the site, or optimizing it for the search engines, includes a lot of different elements like content, page structure, inbound links, social media connections and much more. Search engine algorithms have nearly or over 200 different elements.more

October 23, 2012

Is Link Building Dead?

by Jim Buchanan

While there are a lot of different answers to that question, it's probably safest to say that link building is evolving. Certainly the lawless days of buying links, spinning unintelligible articles, and spamming endless blogs with bogus comments are over.more

October 18, 2012

Keywords in the Talent Search

by MINDSCAPE

How would we recognize your confidence in the workplace? This is one of my favorite interview questions and I have to say, one that is memorable to most people. I can remember the first interview I performed. Not as a job seeker, but as a company representative. My manager was supposed to be the interviewer, but something came up last minute that pulled him into another activity. So, he asked me to fill in. I was nervous! And it did not go very well. I wasn’t sure how or what to ask, and I think I resorted to pretty typical interview questions with very little insight about the person as a result. Now, I can say I have interviewed hundreds of people for a wide variety of roles in several different industries. And I love it…it is the best part of my job!more

October 16, 2012

The New SEO: Content, Google Updates & Common Sense Marketing

by MINDSCAPE

Hi, my name is Marjorie. I'm a relatively new addition to the Mindscape team - I accepted a position here in June (although I've been working with Mindscape as a contractor for close to a year). My background in creative writing, search engine optimization (SEO) and both B2B and B2C marketing have given me a unique skill set which I'm excited to add to Mindscape's arsenal: digital copywriting. So let's talk about digital content, for a minute.more

October 11, 2012

The 3 E's for Handling Emergencies

by MINDSCAPE

The world just came crashing down. It doesn’t matter if it’s a server crash, a client sent out 100,000 emails for a website that is not finished, or if management decided it had to have the new features done by Saturday. The final result is the end of the world. Project Managers are running and yelling, engineers are seething and reaching for a bottle (of antacid) and everyone on the team is getting a phone call or a talking to in order to make sure it GETS DONE NOW. Emergencies happen all of the time, and though you can see them building sometimes, you rarely know when the storm is going to hit. When the storm does hit, it’s the people that will do the work that get hit the hardest. They have to cancel plans, stay at the office late hours, and work until its done.more

October 9, 2012

The Message is Loud and Clear: Employment Branding

by MINDSCAPE

I have the opportunity to work with a really amazing team within Mindscape. Our team focuses on helping our clients use the power of the web to further their businesses. A part of this is online branding, making sure the content present in the digital realms drives customers to the right places. In the world of HR and Contributing Team Members (CTM’s), we can take this same basic concept and apply it differently. I’m talking about employment branding. There are two perspectives to employment branding: how current CTM’s view/value what their employer provides them and how prospective CTM’s view/value the possibilities of working for an employer. Both of them play a significant role in the ability of employers to first attract and recruit great team members and secondly to create an environment that retains and keeps the team members motivated to be great.more

October 4, 2012

4th Quarter is Around The Corner

by MINDSCAPE

How are you measuring against your goals for 2012? We’re all in this together. Time goes by faster and faster, everyone is “busy.” Like many professionals and businesses, we took time in late 2011 and earlier this year to identify our goals for 2012. As we begin the planning process for next year, it is a good time to look back on those objectives and see how we’re doing. Why? Well, looking back at what you set out to do can be energizing as we head into the home stretch of the year. Remember all the planning, conversations and excitement when you set those goals? Rekindle that excitement and go for it. You still have over three months left in the year.more

October 2, 2012

Database Basics

by MINDSCAPE

Database seems to be one of those magical words that everyone can use and understand the main concept. “It’s where my stuff is stored,” is the most basic definition of a database, and most people don’t look too far beyond that. But, for those of you that are curious, here is a basic overview of how a Database works: First, let’s break down the hierarchy for a database. A database server contains many (dozens, hundreds, thousands) databases. A database contains many tables. Each table can consist of a few or lots of columns. Rows populate a database, giving a value to each column in the respective table. This is really much simpler than it sounds. Essentially, each table in a database is just a large Excel-like spreadsheet. Here is a visual representation to help you out: http://screencast.com/t/3yKOrVn0lmore

September 27, 2012

Understanding, the Overlooked Step

by MINDSCAPE

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Most people recognize this as the 5th Habit of Stephan Covey in his infamous book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This habit is the most difficult for me and I would guess for most others too. How often we rush into sharing our thoughts just to get them out there: to impress, to meet our agenda or to challenge. I’m guessing this is a bit more perplexing for those of us with extroverted personalities, or the ones who like to “think out loud.” What do we miss in this process when we don’t try to understand our audience first? Do we share something that has no value? Do we miss an opportunity to really connect and further a relationship with someone? Or do we just waste our time?more

September 26, 2012

8 Key Elements to Get to the Top of Google

by Pete Brand

Staying up-to-date on the latest online developments is extremely important if you want your business to do well. The fundamentals of search engine optimization don’t change often (although the panda update requires more relevant content). These tried and true rules can help you be extremely successful online. If you address each of the following eight elements when new content is added to your site, your search positioning will consistently improve along with the quality of visitors coming to your site. You don’t just want traffic, you want relevant traffic that is looking to buy. 1 | Page title Your page title is one of the first things the search engine spiders view (the page title for this page is 8 Key Elements to Get to the Top of Google). This title tells the search engines what your page is about. You should not simply repeat the keywords over and over in this title. You should limit this title to eight to ten words and it should make sense to the visitor. Don’t just write anything for the spiders - this will lead to a bad user experience and a non-return visitor. 2 | URL The URL that displays in the address bar of your browser should contain the keyword focus of the page. The best way to include keywords is to separate them with hyphens (-). If this doesn't happen, search engine spiders will view all the words as one big word. As an example, this page URL is http://www.mindscapesolutions.com/blog/2012/09/26/8-key-elements-to-get-to-the-top-of-google/. So we're telling Google this page is about eight key elements to get to to the top of Google. 3 | Meta data: keywords & descriptions The meta keywords and meta description are not given as much importance by the search engines as they used to, but you should still take the time to include your keywords for each individual page. Make sure the description makes sense and contains at least one use of the keyword phrase you are focusing on. Also include your keyword phrase in the meta keywords but don’t repeat over and over; limit your meta keywords to 8-10 keywords, no more than 847 characters total. Description should be limited to no more than 150 characters.  4 | Headings & sub-headings Headings and sub headings are very similar to chapters of a book. They describe what the reader should expect in the coming pages. With your website you should use H1 tags with your keyword of focus on the page. If there are multiple related keywords of focus for that page, you can use additional H2, H3, and H4 tags as sub headings. Remember, your visitors will be reading these headings so they need to make sense while still including your keywords. 5 | Text-based navigation Avoid calling a link just articles. Why? What kind of articles are they going to be? How about Web Marketing Articles? Do you have any question as to what the page is going to be about? You know it's going to be about web marketing articles, and even better, so will the search engines! 6 | Alt text for images Search engines cannot read images, but they can read the alternative text in your images. If you add this, the spiders will know what your image is about. If you include the keywords you are focusing on as alternative text for your images, you’ll let the spiders know what relevance the image has. It will be one more instance of proper keyword usage and be that much easier for search engines to find your content. Many companies skip this, so pay attention and you’ll be further ahead of your competition. 7 | Body copy When writing the copy for your page it's important to include keywords in the body. Each page of your website should contain between 250 and 600 words. You should include your keyword phrase at least four to five times. Your objective should be to create an excellent user experience and provide value to your visitor, so you don't have to insert it that often unless it truly makes sense.  8 | Build links The phrase from the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come,” unfortunately doesn’t apply to the Web. Once your site is built and you have all the elements above, generate awareness and gain inbound links. Search engines look at these inbound links as “votes of confidence” for your site. If those links are coming from sites which have high page rank, they will be viewed as highly credible “votes” by the search engine algorithms and you should see an increase in your position. If you use these eight steps as a template when creating each page on your website, you should rapidly move up through the ranks of search results and quality of traffic will soar. This will lead to higher conversion rates and increases in your online revenue. If this article has left you with any questions, you can simply reach out to us for a free, no-obligation web marketing consultation by clicking here. If you liked this article, you may also like: Learn the 6 Guaranteed Steps to Successful Website Developmentmore

September 25, 2012

How does a computer count?

by MINDSCAPE

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, computers run on good ol’ 1’s and 0’s. An easy statement to make, but a difficult one to truly grasp in reality and scope. I mean think about it: that shiny new game you just bought, with its whizzing bullets, roaring monsters, vast landscapes, online connectivity letting you frag your friends… that ALL gets crunched down into simple 1’s and 0’s. Pretty staggering that that amount of interaction can be reduced to microscopic electrons flying through a miniature universe the size of your cell phone (or even smaller). So how does it work? Well you’ll need about a dozen years of college and a Masters Degree in computer engineering, to find out! But I can at least give you a small taste of how those 1’s and 0’s form information.more

September 20, 2012

Yes, You Can Avoid Saying No

by MINDSCAPE

Let’s face it, in todays world we all what we want when we want it. Those who can deliver are those we choose to do business with. Still, those who are able to address our needs, and provide answers that are helpful are those we can turn to and trust time and time again. There are so many other ways to say no to customer, prospect, co-worker, friend, anyone and avoid saying “no,” “I can’t,” “it’s not possible,” etc. Finding ways to avoid saying no will make you a valuable resource for those you interact with. I’m not saying you need to agree or say yes to everything, simply that there is a better way to say no. When it comes to customers or prospective customers they may want something done immediately, but you’re team, you’re staff or your schedules simply won’t allow for it. What do you say to them, rather than, “No, we can’t do that today, sorry.” How about, “I wish I could do that for you today; we’ll do everything we can, but it’s most likely we’ll get it taken care of for you tomorrow. Would that be acceptable?”more

September 18, 2012

Play Nicely in the Sandbox. No Plastic Shovel Required.

by MINDSCAPE

Customers. They’re our oxygen in business. Without them we don’t make it. Often, our focus on customers are the ones outside of our business. What if we spent the same amount of energy on our internal customers as our external customers? What would our results look like? In human resources, my internal customers are my customers. Yes, I have some outside of our organization as well, but the ones I spend the most time with are in my daily work world. How about you? Are you as thoughtful or responsive to your team members when they have a request as a demanding client. Do you focus on what your team members would say about your performance to your manager? Or are you more concerned about what your clients would say about you?more

September 13, 2012

The Cost of Interruptions (Or how to get things done)

by MINDSCAPE

I found myself sitting at my desk the other day, and knew that I had to get some work done. The problem was that every time I started, something else distracted me. Each instance I was distracted, it took time to remember what I was doing, build up the context that I had my brain set in before I was interrupted, and get back in the Zone. Interruptions today are easier than ever. Here’s a small list of the interruptions that can find me from where I sit: Email notification Instant messenger for chatting with co-workers Desk phone Cell phone Internet! Facebook Google Reader ESPN CNN USA Today Detroit Free Press Research for my next vacation Meetings A window A grumbly stomachmore

September 11, 2012

Acronym Buster – FTP

by MINDSCAPE

Welcome to the first post in a new series that I am dubbing Acronym Buster. Each post, we’ll take a common acronym found around the web and declassify its meaning. This week we are going to be focusing on FTP. It’s one that you probably hear semi-often, but maybe aren’t entirely sure what it is. Let’s unravel those capital letters… FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. The main purpose of FTP is having the ability to quickly move files from one place to another around the internet. For casual internet users, this isn’t that big of a concern. You may download a couple files a week, or email some pictures to a friend. However, for web developers and invested web users, life would be very difficult without FTP capabilities.more

September 6, 2012

New Students Among Us

by MINDSCAPE

My sons started school this week. They came home to tell me lots of stories of locker difficulties, new friends, great lunch food options and cool Mac technology. Their excitement, mixed with anxiety, reminded me of the new Contributing Team Members (CTM’s) we hired in the last month and how they probably had similar feelings.more

September 4, 2012

Keeping your software young

by MINDSCAPE

Every once in a while, I look at the date and wonder how fifteen years have passed since I graduated high school. Looking back at those four adolescent years, they feel more like four decades. It is crazy to experience the speed of life. The software we build wonders the same thing. Has it really been seven years since that website was built? Wasn’t it just yesterday that Ajax was the thing of the future, and IE 7 was the greatest step forward in Internet history (ok, maybe that was never the case). Time and Technology stop for no man, and it certainly does not stop for the applications we build. So what can we do to keep them fresh and healthy? It’s not so different from the additional exercise, better diet, and regular checkups that we do for ourselves. In the case of technology, the key is to keep up on blogs, product releases, and to continue to use the application so you can understand its needs.more

August 30, 2012

Gamification for B2B: It's Not Scary

by MINDSCAPE

If you haven’t heard the word “gamification” yet, you’re not alone. But if you’re played Angry Birds on your phone, Draw Something on your iPad, or checked in someplace on FourSquare you’ve definitely been gamed.more

August 28, 2012

We’re Just a Series of Stories

by MINDSCAPE

Storytelling.  We’re introduced to this concept at a young age, before we can make sense of the characters on a page, or tablet or phone.   Because of this, we have to trust the person relaying the story.more

August 23, 2012

Computer Hardware Basics

by MINDSCAPE

If you’ve ever had to buy a new computer or laptop, then you’ve probably been bombarded with acronyms and metrics that may not be familiar to you. RAM, HDD, CPU; the list could go on and on. Now, salesmen X at computer retailer Y will try to sell you the best so that his commission can buy little Joey a new Xbox. But let’s break down what each of these measurements are, what they mean, and how much you should have.more

August 21, 2012

Coding is Creativity

by MINDSCAPE

I was having a discussion about great literature the other day, and something that was said struck me as very applicable to software development.more

August 16, 2012

How to Create a Content Calendar

by Paul Ferrier

As search engines continue to change and evolve the way they rank websites, content marketing is what is making companies and people stand out. It’s about the content, really! To create great content you need to:more

August 14, 2012

SEO & Website Strategy for B2B…As An Afterthought?

by MINDSCAPE

Oh no, I thought, not again. As I hung up the phone last week, I realized I’m now currently dealing with four B2B clients who recently unveiled a really pretty new website design (not Mindscape projects), but now realize nobody can find their site in search. Or that it will cost thousands to update and edit content on a regular basis. Or that their site visitors are bouncing off their beautiful new site like its rubber.more

August 9, 2012

Networking By Looking in the Rearview Mirror

by MINDSCAPE

It’s so easy to get caught up in an online search. You begin with one topic and soon you’re submerged in many more. Sometimes it may even take a while to get back to your original topic because of all of the other connections you made along the way.more

August 2, 2012

Request.URL & What's That Property?

by MINDSCAPE

Request.URL can be used in .NET to get the value that the web browser used to access a page. However, there are many different properties to choose from, and sometimes it is difficult to know which property to use.more

July 31, 2012

SEO and PPC, What’s Best in Search Engine Marketing?

by MINDSCAPE

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve talked about PPC (pay per click advertising) alone in the last week… This is a question that comes up all the time for web marketers and businesses. And, it’s time to set the record straight on how we feel about things at Mindscape in regards to search engine marketing (that covers both organic and paid).more

July 26, 2012

Scheduling is a breeze (Thanks to Liquid Planner)

by MINDSCAPE

Back in February, we were buried under a mountain of work.  It’s not a bad problem to have, but it sure made for quite the logistical nightmare.  It was not easy to schedule dozens of projects for dozens of team members and still make sure we hit our deadlines.more

July 24, 2012

SEO Basics. Foundational Search Engine Optimization Elements.

by MINDSCAPE

 more

July 19, 2012

Browser Rundown

by MINDSCAPE

If you’ve been an active internet user over the past decade, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the many different types of web browsers available to consumers. Many people just stick to the default browser because they believe the other browsers are too fancy or techy for them. However, taking the time to try out a new browser can lead to a much more enhanced browsing experience. Mindscape is here to give you a basic overview of the browser options available to you, as well as make recommendations based on your internet experience level.more

July 12, 2012

Inbound Marketing, what’s the most valuable way to generate leads?

by MINDSCAPE

I recently reviewed an article by Marketing Sherpa. In that article, they shared research results of a survey asking marketers what were some of their more important inbound marketing tactics that generated  leads.more

July 10, 2012

Code Collaboration or (Subversion isn’t always Subversive)

by MINDSCAPE

Have you ever attempted to work on a Microsoft Word document with friends? You created the document, emailed it to six friends, and suddenly found yourself struggling to merge all of the different changes that came back to you.more

July 5, 2012

Four Reasons You Should Turn Your Passion Into a Career

by Pete Brand

Do you go to sleep at night dreading the next day? Are you more concerned with making money than you are for your own happiness? I am amazed at how many conversations I witness where the entire content is filled with complaints about their job. As I listen to lack of enthusiasm and perceived hatred for the occupation or company these people count on to sustain their lives, it baffles me as to why they’d continue to put themselves in such a horrific position.more

July 3, 2012

The Internet is Down (or How did we ever live without it?)

by MINDSCAPE

The internet is down in the office.  My productivity just came to a screeching halt.more

June 28, 2012

Virtual Machines: What, How, and Why?

by MINDSCAPE

Any good web company will tell you that one of the most important stages of development is the testing phase. However, with so many different types of machines, operating systems, and browsers, how can you test sites efficiently without having an arsenal of computers littered around the office? The answer is to go virtual.more

June 26, 2012

Digital Marketing Canvas

by Jeff Bell

In a recent strategy development session with all the creative folks here, I had asked a couple of the team members to take notes for me since my whiteboarding abilities are… well, not very structured. After our session, I asked a new team member to start putting together the findings in our standard format. He struggled a bit to pull everything together and it was at this point I realized we did not have a good way of thinking through strategies and documenting them in a way that could be easily understood.more

June 21, 2012

Get Better ROI on Your Local Direct Mail and Print Advertising with Landing Pages

by MINDSCAPE

The other day I got a postcard from a local B2B firm inviting me to a product show. To attend, just register online. So I entered the website listed on the card and there I was on their home page. So…now I need to search the site to find where to fill out my form to RSVP? What a pain. It would have been great if they’d created a landing page on their website specifically for the show instead of forcing me to click all over looking for the form.more

June 19, 2012

Another set of eyes (or Blinded by the Light)

by MINDSCAPE

more

June 17, 2012

First Quest, Then Connect for Better Performance

by MINDSCAPE

Most of the stories of our lives begin with a natural curiosity. It’s prevalent in us as children when we’re figuring out the world around us. And as we take on the responsibilities of adulthood, our natural need to quest sometimes falls by the wayside with the pressures we face. But, this need to be curious, to journey forward is a necessity in our survival.more

June 14, 2012

Sales Vs. Marketing

by MINDSCAPE

How to better connect sales and marketing management to impact the bottom line. Sales and marketing management can be complex, often with marketing and sales teams becoming dissatisfied with each other. Why? Many of the areas where the wedge between sales and marketing teams can come from is the feeling of each “owning” the customer, or the customer experience. Yet, no one department owns the customer. Marketing is there to identify who the best target audiences are and pursue them. Then your sales team begins the sales process with qualified prospects.more

June 12, 2012

Preventing HTML checkbox toggle with Javascript

by Matt Brand

I've tested all this on IE9, Chrome 19, Safari 5 and Firefox 12. Your mileage will vary for earlier browsers, especially earlier Internet Explorers. If you're targeting IE < 9 I'd recommend taking a long look at Peter-Paul Koch's compatibility tables to watch out for potential landmines.more

May 4, 2012

Social Influence, Tips to Build and Manage Your Social Media Presence

by MINDSCAPE

On April 10th many of our team members had the chance to attend an American Marketing Association of West Michigan luncheon featuring speaker Jure Klepic. The Web as we know it is undergoing fundamental change as it moves away from its current structure of information and links. The new Web is being built around people not data; a profound change that impacts business strategy, design, marketing, and advertising. Therefore, Jure contends that influence is no longer about numbers - it’s about people.more

April 9, 2012

Programmer Profiles - Jason Van Vuren

by MINDSCAPE

Title: Front End Manager Jason has been at Mindscape for a number of years and has grown into our leading front end coder. He pushes our team to be better all of the time and to embrace new technologies so we are more efficient and can do cooler work. He joined Mindscape with a passion to be a coder, and not much else. Previously, he had not done a lot of work with websites, but he had a desire to learn and be the best. We liked him and the fact that he played bass, so we gave him a shot. We are glad we did! Read on to learn more about Jason Van Vuren.more

March 27, 2012

What You Need To Know About Facebook Timeline for Brands

by MINDSCAPE

Brands Get a Facebook Face-Lift! You've likely noticed a few changes in your Facebook brand page lately. In case you haven’t, you will soon. Facebook announced that the Timeline feature is now available for brand pages. The new pages will mimic user profiles, allowing brands to display their history and provide a rich experience for the user. With the recent upgrades, it's important to make sure that your Facebook page conveys the right message! The new interface changes a variety of commonly used features currently available to page admins. Here is an overview of the most important changes that page admins need to be aware of:more

March 26, 2012

A Guide to Internet Lingo

by MINDSCAPE

As the customer service rep for Mindscape, one of my biggest challenges is breaking down the communication barrier that exists between tech-heads, like myself, and clients who may not have a strong background in computers. I often find myself explaining the same few topics over and over to many of our users; so I’ve decided to make a quick reference guide to some of the most common ideas that come up during web development. This should help you wrap your head around some of the more complicated areas of your website and hopefully provide some insight as to how your site and the web in general works. And don’t worry, I’ll leave out all of the technical blabber in an attempt to make it as easy to understand as possible. Enjoy!more

March 7, 2012

What is a Technical Design (Or Why You Need a Blueprint)

by MINDSCAPE

Have you ever had a house built, or an addition added to your house? Did it go like this? ***** “Good day, Mr. Architectman, I would like you to build a home for me,” Chris VonClient said. “I would be happy to help, Chris. How big do you want the house to be?” Andy Architectman responded, tilting his head to the right so that he could hear Chris better. “I was thinking we needed three bedrooms and two bathrooms. So I don’t know, two thousand square feet?” Chris was not really sure what he wanted, but he had a vague picture in his mind. “Two thousand square feet, eh? Hmm. Yes. I can see it now. That’s enough for a big kitchen, vaulted ceilings, a den in the basement, a living room upstairs. Wait, you do want a basement, right?” “Oh, that’s a great idea, Mr. Architectman. A basement is just what we need!” Chris was excited. He could see the house better already. “Alright then. We can get started next week. How’s $150,000 sound and we’ll be done by September?” Andy was quite sure he knew exactly what Chris wanted. “Perfect! Thanks Mr. Architectman!” *****more

March 3, 2012

Get Return Visitors Through Engagement

by Pete Brand

How many times have you found yourself looking at your website statistics and noticed that 90%+ of your visitors were brand new? You may have looked at that statistic and found yourself getting excited that so many new people were finding you each month.   Unfortunately, those stats aren't a good thing. These high numbers tell you that visitors are arriving to your site, clicking into it a bit and not finding anything helpful enough to make them want to return. This is a common problem, but doesn’t have to be.more

February 21, 2012

The Latest and Greatest Social Networks (And How to Use Them For Business)

by MINDSCAPE

If you are like me, you are longing for the days when social media was easy. And FUN! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love all the things we can do with social media now days. But lately, being on Facebook has become a chore for me. With all the political nonsense to worry about (both nationally and the internal politics that exist between human relationships), I’ve found myself losing interest quickly and longing for the days of customized (albeit insane) MySpace profiles! Luckily, the latest crazes in social networking are starting to bring the social aspects of media back to the forefront. Their clean, focused designs (and targets) are actually allowing for some FUN in social media again! Below is a breakdown of three of the latest social media platforms, along with main target audiences and some ideas for how you can leverage them for your business:more

February 20, 2012

Scheduling Sucks (Or The Problem With Rampant Success)

by MINDSCAPE

Life as a Project Manager at MINDSCAPE used to be pretty nice. I know, because I was a project manager for a couple of years. We had a solid team and plenty of work to keep us busy. What made it nice is that it was manageable. Between two designers and two or three programmers, it was not so bad keeping their schedules straight. We had a nice process. The salesperson would enter a form with the information I needed to make the schedule. I would take the form and create a Basecamp project using the information provided. The Basecamp project would hold all of the tasks we needed to complete and the communication that we had on the project. Basecamp still works pretty well for this, and we use it daily.more

February 16, 2012

Join.Me: A Review

by MINDSCAPE

There has been a lot of buzz around the office of the new LogMe In service called Join.Me. If you have not heard of it yet, then I would suspect you will within the next year. It is an easy-to-use, no sign up required, screen sharing, mini webinar, Web application. That is a lot of very positive descriptive words for a single product, but they pulled them all off quite elegantly. Last week, I had a perfect situation to test it out, and the following is my quick review of their product. For those unaware of my after-hour endeavours, I am one of the founders of a local cycling team. We call ourselves D2 Racing (self promotion never hurt anyone!) One of the benefits of having such a group is the endless supply of guinea pigs for my learning and testing; unfortunately, they are always the ones to receive the brunt of my “experiments.” With the vast majority of us having very busy schedules, it is almost impossible to have a physical meeting so a virtual meeting appeared to be the right solution for our problem.more

February 9, 2012

How to Become a Better Writer

by MINDSCAPE

Some people are simply born with great writing skills. For others, it’s an acquired and practiced skill. Whether you want to simply become a better writer or are looking to strengthen your writing skills, these four tips can help.more

February 6, 2012

MINDSCAPErs Debate: Super Bowl Ad Previews

by MINDSCAPE

The Super Bowl has aired, along with the much anticipated commercials those in our industry - and even those not in advertising - look forward to each and every year. In years past, a few would leak out on the Internet here and there, and buzz would generate prior to their actual air time. This year, we've seen an increase in ads leaked and viewed online before the Super Bowl which has created a lot of buzz on social and traditional media channels. The buzz spurred debate around the office about whether or not this takes away from the excitement of watching the ads during the big game. Our resident advertising junkies Christina Torri and Renee Achterhof debate the pros and cons of ad previews:more

February 2, 2012

What Makes Front End Coding So Difficult (or HTML Black Magic)

by MINDSCAPE

  Do you know what front-end programmers dream about? It is not an answer to the national debt, or if Democrats and Republicans can get along, or even if there is life on other planets. No, front-end programmers dream of something that seems entirely more difficult to attain. A front-end programmer wants a world where they can do their work one time and be done. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Most of us go through life completing a task and knowing that having completed the task, there is nothing more to do.more

January 30, 2012

Can a Mobile App Help With SEO?

by Paul Ferrier

I recently had a client ask me if developing a mobile application would help them with their SEO and search engine ranking. I love the question, so I thought I would write a quick post on it. From an SEO perspective, an app actually COULD influence ranking, but not how you might think initially.more

January 26, 2012

ASP.NET 4.0 - Strongly Typed Model on Form Uploads

by MINDSCAPE

I recently came across a problem in an ASP.NET MVC Web Application where it needed to upload an image with some extra form fields, but still have the controller’s post action testable. This seemed like an easy enough task, but I soon realized that in order to get the uploaded file from the view I had to grab it from the request object’s files collection. Doing this would make my testing harder, and, more drastically, decouple this action from the view model. I scoured the Internet to find out why the magic behind binding the view model to the controller would not put the posted file in an argument alongside my strongly typed model. After coming to the conclusion that no direct articles or examples with my scenario existed, I turned to learning more about the binding that was taking place behind the scenes.more

January 19, 2012

Quoting a Project (or How Deep is that Rabbit Hole?)

by MINDSCAPE

  Last year I had a few rooms in my house repainted. In order to determine which company I would use for the work, I invited them to the house to quote the work. I showed them the rooms, told them the type of paint and color I wanted, and told them when I wanted the work done by. Each company was able to calculate the amount of paint they needed, the cost of the paint and how many people would need to work on the project in order to have it done by my deadline. Having painted a multitude of rooms before my request, they were able to imagine potential obstacles before they happened and be fairly sure that they were not missing anything in their quote. The resulting quotes were very precise and given to me with a high degree of confidence.more

January 10, 2012

Email Subject Lines: Increasing Your Open Rate With Problems?

by Paul Ferrier

I just received two emails from Internet marketer Trey Smith. The first email's subject line read: "Update" I didn't read it. But then about 90 minutes later, I received another email with the subject line: "SERVER CRASH! (Woooo hooo!)" I immediately opened it to learn what happened. It's curiosity. The email read:more

January 9, 2012

Setting Up Goals in Google Analytics

by Jeff Bell

In the spirit of the new year, I’d love to see everyone resolve to make sure their website is working. No, I don’t mean I want to make sure you have a website that is functioning. I mean I want to make sure you’re getting value from it. I want to make sure it’s actually performing a function! If you have no idea how to do that or what I’m talking about, keep reading. What’s a goal, you ask? Well, in Google Analytics, a “goal” is the completion of some task on your site. Though goals can get pretty complicated, I’ll just cover the most basic and popular one here. Too often the optional complexity scares people off. I don’t want to scare you off, I want you to start measuring the effectiveness of your site!more

January 6, 2012

Life in the Pit (or How to Pamper Your Programmers)

by MINDSCAPE

The office of MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry is located in the heart of Downtown Grand Rapids. It’s on the sixth floor of an old building next to Van Andel Arena. When the elevators open on the sixth floor, visitors are treated to an open floor plan, a nice reception area, a nifty coffee bar, some fancy table and chairs for informal gatherings and a half-dozen nice cubes where information workers are busily executing strategies for website success. It’s a great place to walk into, and a great atmosphere to work in. The free soft drinks, breakfast foods and a hidden cupboard full of M&Ms and trail mix add to the lure for workers.more

January 4, 2012

Year Beginning: Focus on Giving

by MINDSCAPE

The MINDSCAPErs give back, delivering gifts to families in need through Family Promise of Grand Rapids It’s the start of 2012 - the holiday charitable giving push is coming to an end. The holidays are one of the biggest times for nonprofits. More than half of their fundraising is done between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Have you seen the news updates? During this time of the year Goodwill receives so many of their donation totals. Why don’t we give more during the year? Why are we compelled to give only at the end of the year? What difference could we make if we gave all year long?more

January 3, 2012

Do I Need a New Website in 2012?

by MINDSCAPE

  It’s 2012. Is this the year your website will work as hard as you do? A well-planned, thoughtfully designed website that positions your business to grow like crazy using the power of the Web isn’t cheap. For a business owner or manager, it can be difficult to know just when to approve the investment in a new website. Below are some thought starters on when to pony-up.more

December 22, 2011

Content = Publishing

by MINDSCAPE

People determine the success of a business. They ultimately decide whether a company, business or organization thrives or is driven into the ground headfirst. So wouldn’t you want to do everything you can for your people and provide them an outlet for their needs? Don’t know how? The solution is very simple: people crave compelling content. People love stories.more

December 19, 2011

Why Blog?

by MINDSCAPE

It happens so often. A business gets excited about the idea of blogging on their website. Post after post goes up, the bosses gush and everyone is excited. But the charm fizzles after a while, and a blog ends up totally inactive or as a catchall for sporadic self-promotional messages. Readers flee and the whole thing becomes, “Yeah, we tried it but it didn’t really work for us.” As with any business initiative, successful blogging requires a plan. If executed properly, having a blog on your website offers many benefits to enhance your online presence. First, blogs provide current and relevant content to your site visitors. Trends in technology, new government or regulatory policies, discoveries for a new use of a product, etc. – anything that affects your industry is useful information to your readers.more

December 15, 2011

MINDSCAPErs Investigate Facebook's New Timeline

by MINDSCAPE

You may have heard that Facebook officially rolled out the launch of their new Timeline feature today. Timeline features a radical redesign of users profile page; instead of merely listing your interests and personal info, the Timeline shows a detailed overview of your life on Facebook. Plus, it allows users to be a bit more creative in the design of their pages. A few of us in the office activated the feature when it rolled out to developers in September. In honor of today's public launch, we thought it would be fun to share with you some of our Timeline profiles.more

December 9, 2011

High Bounce Rate? Check Your Tracking Code!

by Jeff Bell

Recently I had the opportunity to look at the analytics for a potential client. I had been informed that their bounce rate was upwards of 66%! SIXTY SIX PERCENT? - Holy smokes! That means of all the visitors that come to the site, two thirds of them don’t find the content relative? As I looked at their site and the keywords driving traffic to it, I noticed that they had many branded keywords and even THOSE had a nearly 66% bounce rate. Something seemed really fishy to me – I mean, it was odd that someone would search for the brand name, land on the site and immediately leave.more

December 8, 2011

Video Blogging: What’s the Big Deal?

by MINDSCAPE

Vlogs are replacing blogs. They’re quick snip-its of information that would otherwise be typed up as copy and posted onto a website. A variety of information can be communicated in an entertaining, easy to understand format, and, when presented in three minutes or less, in a small amount of time. But how can it be that just a year ago – even a few months ago – writing was simply enough? YouTube and Vimeo have been popular video sites for years, but suddenly they seem to have burst with activity. Social media sites now allow sharing of entertaining videos through their platforms, and video content is increasing in views exponentially.more

December 2, 2011

Online and Print Press Releases: What’s the Difference?

by MINDSCAPE

Both online and traditional press releases do the same job: they spread the word about newsworthy information. Take a look at the similarities and differences, pros and cons of both traditional and online press releases.more

November 29, 2011

Looking for Mobile Analytics? Six Sites to Check Out

by Mark Swanson

So you've built a groundbreaking mobile app in the "virtual farting" genre or a great mobile website. You're hoping people will check it out. You've built it, but how do you know if they will come? Traditional Web analytics will sometimes work on mobile sites, but they are not always ideal. A more mobile-centric approach to analytics may sometimes be necessary. It really depends on how large your mobile audience is. But how will you ever find that out without mobile analytics? Here are six solutions to mobile analytics for your mobile website or mobile app. Spend some time reviewing each one to make sure it fits your needs. I'm not endorsing them so much as compiling them here in this article as a quick round-up of the major players in mobile analytics. In fact, the descriptions below each one are basically marketing copy pulled from their respective sites.more

November 28, 2011

First Steps with CakePHP

by MINDSCAPE

Starting a new, personal project in PHP, I wanted to try out a new framework for the fun of it. After doing a bit of review on many available frameworks, and ruling out the ones I have already used (Zend and OpenAvanti), I settled on CakePHP.more

November 21, 2011

Are You Marketing Via Video?

by MINDSCAPE

According to WebVideoMarketing.org, video viewing online has officially reached an all-time high of 15 billion as of this past May. 15 billion. The population of the world is 6.9 billion. Holy mega video hits, Batman. So does your marketing content include video? Whether you’re B2B, B2C or consume both markets, you could be missing out on a lot of business if you shy away from video marketing. Think about business videos you’ve watched. They may have had a team dedicated to organizing, filming and editing the video and had an entire studio where they could film. But your marketing department is on a budget…so how in the world are you supposed to create an amazing video like them?more

November 15, 2011

Mobile Homepages Level Out Bounce Rate

by Mark Swanson

I've been sorting through Google Analytics today to see which of our clients are getting mobile traffic. Not surprisingly, they're all getting it. I'd say relative to the overall traffic, the mobile slice of the pie is similar on all sites. What's not similar, though, is the the bounce rate, which is the amount of people staying on that site and the amount of people leaving without doing anything. On a lot of our sites, the bounce rate for the normal site hovers around 30%-40%, where the mobile sites are closer to 60-70%. It makes sense. Most of these people are accessing a regular site on their mobile phone, so it's not surprising that the bounce rate is a lot higher. It's just harder to use. So I compared this to a few of the mobile sites we've developed and noticed that just having that mobile friendly homepage in place seems to really level out the bounce rate. It brings it right back down to that 30-40% range, similar to the desktop site.more

November 14, 2011

What is Eye Tracking? Eye Tracking Research Shows Where Users are Looking on Screen

by MINDSCAPE

Why do people click on the search results when and where they do? Why aren’t paid search campaigns as successful as they used to be? Are people even looking at your display ads? Eye tracking is understanding how users look at your website or search results - there are many software programs available. Important for any business, eye tracking studies have a lot to do with what the page looks like - keeping it usable, engaging and easy to take in visually. Still, it has a lot more to do with users' eye patterns on the screen. When it comes to search results, we know that top organic rankings are the best. Why? Well, look at the charts below. One shows click positions, while the other shows cursor movement.  more

November 11, 2011

Online Search for B2B

by MINDSCAPE

When you're in need of a tent for the graduation party you’re hosting, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you Google “tent rental grand rapids.” Need replacement windows, a painter, a florist, a nearby Chinese restaurant, reliable PC repair? That’s right, Google. Now what if you’re at work and you’ve been given the responsibility to purchase a new projector for the conference room, or find a dependable commercial lawn care company, or locate a pallet rack supplier for the warehouse or select a venue for the company Holiday party? Where do you turn then? Did someone just say Google? Many businesses I’ve worked with express doubt about how online search affects them. However, it’s just as important for a B2B firm to have a compelling and a search engine optimized website as it is for B2C.  more

November 9, 2011

What is Your Online Reputation?

by MINDSCAPE

Online Reviews: Why Should I Care? Taking a vacation these days is precious. With demands on our time from work, home, and community, we want (and need!) the best trip possible. When my husband and I went to Mexico a few years ago, I spent hours on TripAdvisor reading reviews posted by average people. Those reviews helped steer us to book at the resort we chose, which wasn’t cheap. When we got home, I couldn’t wait to write my own review! TripAdvisor’s site says they have over 50 million reviews on 85,000 establishments, with 23 reviews per minute being posted. Readers of the reviews are potential customers of every hotel or restaurant they investigate. A positive or negative review can literally change a buyer’s mind without any further research or information.  more

November 9, 2011

Get Your Website Content Out the Door on Time

by MINDSCAPE

You’re excited to begin working on your new website, and you’ve got it all figured out. Photos to be used, general ideas of copy, videos and overall layout and site map have been approved by the Web managers. All you have to do is execute your ideas. Easy peasy, right? Thinking of ideas is the easy part, implementing them is another (more complicated) story. How can you make sure your content is as great as possible once your website is ready for launch?more

November 4, 2011

Retailers Are Ready For the Holidays

by MINDSCAPE

How far ahead are you looking in your business? Here we are, two days past Halloween. I walked through the store yesterday and saw all of the Halloween decorations, costumes, etc., marked half off or more. Then I saw the aisles and aisles of Christmas and holiday decorations: stockings, ornaments, wrapping paper, and much, much more! Already?!more

October 31, 2011

Basketball Never Stops…. At Least, Not on Twitter

by MINDSCAPE

Last night, while I enjoyed watching the Eagles destroying the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Nike informed me that Basketball Never Stops. Take a look:more

October 29, 2011

The Future of Facebook

by MINDSCAPE

  Clients always ask me, “What’s the next Facebook?” Given the turbulent ride of MySpace, and the slow mainstream growth of Twitter, I understand why clients would ask this question. They want to know if Facebook will be around - and popular - in a few years and worth the utilization efforts and investment. They also wonder what platform is going to explode next year so they can jump on now and be ahead of the curve. When I’m asked this I often laugh. I feel like they are asking me what will the stock market do next year. I have no idea - and neither does anyone else. It’s impossible to predict the future, so we have to rely on educated guesses and make assumptions and predictions based on historical data.more

October 28, 2011

The Dog Your Dog Could Be

by MINDSCAPE

Take a look at the following commercial. Take detailed notes of any thought in your mind during your viewing. Pop some popcorn and enjoy.more

October 27, 2011

Top Website Features of the Past

by MINDSCAPE

Keeping in theme with my last post, Transforming in the Digital Age, I think it’s interesting and entertaining to look back at early uses of the Internet and Web technologies and the changes over time - it provides comic relief and demonstrates how Web technology has evolved from user demands and feedback. Today the Internet is about content and providing a valuable user experience, but it wasn’t always that way - remember silly “splash” homepages and animated flash sites with elevator music? Back in the day website functionality was not only trendy, it was an adventure. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of these hilarious out-of-date features. From the early days of the Web to Web 2.0, a list of the silliest and most obnoxious website features from the past:more

October 24, 2011

What 3 Years in the Digital World Has Taught Me

by MINDSCAPE

It’s no question that things change quickly, faster now than ever before. We’re both blessed and cursed with the pace of change, the impact of technology on our ability to do more with less - and do it faster, often finding distractions and efficiencies in the same tools. My three year anniversary at MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry is coming up, so I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned.....more

October 20, 2011

Listening Doesn't Stop at Your Website

by MINDSCAPE

Over the past few weeks I have been blessed with a plethora of Web analytic data to mine and analyze. Although some of you may want to stop reading here, I promise this is not about data mining, but more about a typically missed listening channel. While scanning through endless analytic accounts, I started to notice a trend of a piece of data missing in each site’s analytic data. This is where the data analysis guys/gals typically start to throw up their arms and walk out the door. So instead of doing that, I decided to sit down and write this article with the hopes of helping you gain lost insights and a better perspective of what your visitors are telling you.more

October 18, 2011

Charging Admission for the Greater Good

by MINDSCAPE

Many students and educators are blessed by the opportunities available to engage with our agencies, Hanon McKendry and MINDSCAPE, and the people who make us who we are. We open our doors often to the curious minds that seek to know more about the advertising and Web industries we serve. While we give them an opportunity to learn, we also receive…in the enthusiasm, the freshness, the vulnerability of these curiosity seekers. We now also receive in another way.more

October 14, 2011

Google Analytics Link Tagging

by Jeff Bell

Link tagging is one ninja-like feature built into Google Analytics is surprisingly powerful and rarely used outside of AdWords campaigns. Link tagging allows you to tag nearly any link with some special values to gain some interesting insights into your traffic sources. To Tag or Not To Tag So, why on earth would someone want to use link tagging? Well, link tagging allows us to see visitors from a particular email campaign. It would help us to identify visitors from a specific tweet or Facebook post. It’s really a very simple thing to do, it’s easy to get started and it can provide a lot of insight into your traffic sources. The first thing to understand about link tagging is that you don’t need to tag everything and you can’t tag some stuff. Organic traffic is impossible to tag. No matter how much of an analytics ninja you are, you just can’t tag organic traffic. If you use Google AdWords, you don’t need to tag those because Google already does that for you. If, however, you are using a different paid advertising campaign or any email campaigns, you will definitely want to tag those.more

October 12, 2011

Transforming into the Digital Age

by MINDSCAPE

As I was organizing some papers, I came across an old marketing piece from the late nineties. Done by the Gardner Group in 1998, it illustrates how businesses can embrace the Internet (back then called e-business) and ultimately transform to efficient and powerful enterprises.more

October 10, 2011

Beyond SEO...Improving Your Bottom Line

by Paul Ferrier

We are very fortunate to work with over 1,000 clients these days, from multi-billion dollar international companies to local mom-and-pop shops. This wide range of clientele allows us to gain a vast array of experience. Something I experienced this past week was working with one of our larger clients and setting goals for 2012. Before working with us, their 2011 goals were centered around getting to the top of the search engines. Their goal wasn't to just be on the front page, they wanted to be no lower than number 3 in Google. And it worked! As great of a goal as that sounds, I was able to quickly point out several cases where they dominated the search engines for the key phrases they were targeting. But in the end, the traffic driven to the site was minimal at best.more

October 5, 2011

Website Beta Testing: Why NOT promoting your website the day of launch is a good idea.

by MINDSCAPE

If you’re a reader of this blog, chances are at some point in your career or life you will be a part of a team that builds and launches a new (or improved) website. For those of you who have launched a website, how were the first couple of days? Websites are a lot of work. They take weeks or months to plan, design, develop, create content and get to the point of going live. Website beta testing is done internally by your staff, your Web team and those you know. Given all this hard work, going live is a HUGE milestone, right?! It makes sense to want to tell people the day it goes live.more

October 3, 2011

Search Engine Optimized Copywriting

by MINDSCAPE

Google, Bing, Yahoo – oh my! Over the past several months, search engines have been toughening up on quality keyword optimized content. With the Panda update, effective February, 2011, search engines are cracking down on inserting meaningful keywords, so that those inserted haphazardly cannot prevent your Web content from reaching search results. When writing copy for a website, press release, blog or other published venue, writers must not take the importance of keyword placement lightly. If there aren’t keywords in your content for search engines to locate, they will not place you highly in search results. It’s that simple. Of course, everyone wants to place as highly as possible in search engines, but how is it done? It can be tricky – but once you know the steps to take, it will be a breeze.more

September 30, 2011

Measuring Social Media ROI: Sales

by MINDSCAPE

Many companies want to know what the impact of social media is on sales. Unfortunately, there is not a magic formula that will say “for every fan we get on social media, we’ll get XX in sales”. But, using some super cool tricks in Google Analytics will help make some reasonable assumptions about social media’s impact on sales. For example, let’s say that you are selling widgets, and these widgets are only available for purchase by contacting your company. You write a blog about how cool your widgets are, listing out the features and benefits. You then provide a series of postings on social media, driving people to your blog about widgets (using tagged links, of course!). You also use some traditional methods like paid advertisements, etc. Over the next six months, your company sells 500 widgets. But how many of those came from social media?more

September 29, 2011

Mindscape in LEGO

by MINDSCAPE

While shopping the LEGO website the other day, I ran across a free application they provide called LEGO Digital Designer. With it, you can assemble bricks from the included palette, then package and upload your creation back to the site. This looked pretty fun so I gave the software a whirl. Now, I am not a professional 3D modeler, but I do have experience in a few tools, such as Blender, and expect a few necessities in a 3D modeling application. LEGO Digital Designer does not have them. But that’s OK, I thought. I’ll just play around with it. For an experiment, I decided to model the building I work in, 25 Ottawa SW, Grand Rapids, MI, the home of MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry. My goal was to capture the feel of the building (being that it is LEGO and not a precise, 3D replica) without getting into too much detail. Well, that’s hard for me to do, and before too long, I found myself agonizing over placing bricks exactly where they should be to accurately reflect the building’s layout. Then I would take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that I’m just capturing the building’s essence. Then it would get fun again.more

September 23, 2011

Facebook Updates: the Good and the Bad

by MINDSCAPE

More changes to Facebook! YAY! I’m sure you've noticed that Facebook has, once again, made some changes. Given the amount of time it’s been since we’ve seen any major updates, it’s about time they rolled out something new and different, right? Here’s a breakdown of the major updates and, of course, my thoughts on them.more

September 21, 2011

The Advantages of Having a Mobile Site

by Mark Swanson

At Mindscape, I've really been jumping head first into mobile web development for the last year. I find it interesting to create something that works across the board on several different devices. We're at a point where we're starting to offer this to clients, and surely the question of "Why do I need a mobile site?" is going to come up a lot more frequently. So I thought I'd address some of the key benefits to creating a mobile-friendly website in this article. Keep in mind that developing a mobile site doesn't necessarily mean creating a separate site for mobile devices. It has more to do with creating a site elastic enough to display nicely on whatever device your end user is viewing it on.more

September 19, 2011

Paid Search: Are You Paying People to Walk in the Door?

by MINDSCAPE

I was talking to my brother the other night and somehow we got on the conversation of online advertising and not wasting money. Somewhere in the midst of this discussion I gave an example of making sure you are not paying for visits when a searcher is putting your business name in their search phrase. This is a waste of your money, because the intended user already knows they want to go to your site. Why not let them click the free organic link? In a very quick response he came back with a great analogy: “That is like giving every customer that walks in your door a dollar for showing up when they intended to anyways.”more

September 16, 2011

Setting Goals to Measure Social Media ROI

by MINDSCAPE

Much like measuring the results of traditional marketing (TV ads, billboards, ect), it’s difficult to analyze exactly what your social media efforts are doing to help promote your brand. In it’s purest form, “social media” is essentially the digital representation of social interaction. How do you truly measure the ROI of attending a network event? Or talking with someone about your business? You don’t- because you can’t but you do these things because you know that it’s piece of a bigger puzzle and can eventually lead to future sales. The same is true about social media: the impacts of engaging are not entirely known. But, if you are willing to spend a bit of time and put your thinking cap on, you can analyze some data and provide some tangible results.more

September 14, 2011

Social Media: More About Listening Than What You Had for Lunch!

by Pete Brand

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “We have two ears and one mouth, and therefore we should listen more than we speak.” I’ve heard it so many times that it’s permanently ingrained into my brain. How about you? As I explore the social web it seems as though companies completely forget this saying and utilize social media like traditional “interruption marketing.” You know the companies I’m talking about. They’re easy to identify when you are viewing your Facebook or Twitter news feed. You constantly see their updates letting you know about the “great deal” they are offering, or messages encouraging you to “buy now.” They post so frequently that the content you’d like to see gets lost in all the noise. It’s as though the marketing people within these companies completely forgot about delivering VALUE to their “fans” and “followers.” If you happen to be one of these “marketers,” and you’ve somehow forgotten what brings the most value to your clients, I’ve got a tip for you. Become an active “listener” so you can get back to the basics of delivering as much VALUE as possible.more

September 12, 2011

What is Content?

by MINDSCAPE

Content is everything. Content informs, educates, fulfills, inspires and helps your audience gain trust in your brand. It’s the act of giving them what they want, not telling them what you think they should know. In essence, it’s hitting them “right there.” Content keeps your audience on the edge of their chair, or makes them fall out of it when it’s really, really good. It’s not simply words on a page. It’s a page, or video, or post or workshop full of information that really means something to the audience. There are tons of types of content, but here are my personal favorites.more

September 7, 2011

Cloudflare – Protect your Website

by MINDSCAPE

A month ago, I wrote about the Google Page service. The Page Service caches your static content and serves it up from their servers for faster page views. It sounds great in theory, and perhaps it will perform well in practice. Currently, it’s still in a beta period and available to only a small set of webmasters. While I was researching that article, I stumbled upon a service called Cloudflare. Cloudflare already does what the Google Page service does, but also protects your sites from known threats like spambots, can auto-minify your site’s CSS and Javascript files, hides your email address from any spambot that may get through, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff. Basically, they level the playing field for small websites. A small website no longer has to pay large sums of money to get the security and reach that giant, corporate websites get. And Cloudflare manages to do it all for free.more

August 31, 2011

No Comment? Why it’s Time to Start Commenting in the Blogosphere

by MINDSCAPE

The vast majority of blog readers don’t leave comments before they leave the blog site. Are you one of them? If so, it might be time to re-think the importance of commenting on blogs. If done correctly, your comments can gain exposure online and increase your network. While your personal blog and social media profiles allow you to share information and express opinions in your own social sphere, commenting on other blogs gives you greater exposure to those involved and interested in your particular niche. This offers an even larger venue to voice your opinion and provide thought leadership.more

August 26, 2011

Measuring Your SEO Efforts

by Jeff Bell

If you’ve been through the Mindscape Internet Marketing Academy, you know that it’s important to do your keyword research, filter the list based upon your research, and then start changing your on-page content elements to work in those keywords. However, after doing that, how do you know if you’re really gaining any traction? If you know the keywords you’re targeting, measuring the impact of your efforts is actually quite easy using Google Analytics!more

August 24, 2011

Do You Work Hard to Attract Prospects and Then Give Them the Middle Finger?

by Pete Brand

I’m sure your first instinct is to say, “Heck no…I would never do that!” Are you sure about that? Now, I’m not talking about literally “flying the bird” in the face of your prospects. However, I actually think that would be much better. If you did take such bold action, you’d be doing it intentionally and your message to your prospects would come through loud and clear. I’m talking about working your tail off to understand your buyers, strategically gaining awareness, sharing valuable information to show them you’re worthy of doing business with them, and then taking actions that show them you could care less about them.more

August 22, 2011

Falling Into the Programming Complexity Trap

by MINDSCAPE

So many times I find myself, as a programmer, diving into a problem with an initial thought of a solution that ends up being way too complex. I don't know if it's programmers in general or just me, but it seems that as I gain more and more coding knowledge and can take on more and more challenging problems, my brain can fall into a complexity trap. Now I have numerous tools (algorithms, patterns, etc.) at my disposal, and at times I tend to attack a problem with one or more of these tools without stepping back, taking a deep breath, and determining which is the simplest way to get something done. These solutions usually work, but the code can become messy and hard to maintain versus the simple way that I failed to see at the beginning.more

August 18, 2011

Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

by MINDSCAPE

Have you Googled yourself yet? Ensuring your online presence is super important, as it should accurately reflect who you are. Whether you’re job searching, networking or trying to work your way into an elite group, it’s a sure thing that someone is going to dig deeper online to discover what you’re all about. To show you an example, I Googled my own name. Here’s how I look to the world: Renee Achterhof – Google Profile Renee Achterhof | Facebook Renee Achterhof | LinkedIn Renee Achterhof, Grand Rapids, MI | My Life Renee Achterhof (RAchterhof) on Twitter Renee Achterhof | Rapid Growth Media Renee Achterhof on the Behance Network Renee Achterhof (shoozer228) on Etsy We don’t necessarily have control over what results show up on which page in Google. That’s why it’s important to see which results do pop up, so that you can refine those pages to the image you hope to convey to those searching for you.more

August 15, 2011

Tips to Improve your Article Marketing

by Jim Buchanan

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the Panda algorithm update that Google started implementing in late February. Since that time there have been periodic updates to the algorithm, with more on the way. The goal of the Panda update has been to “clean up” the search engine results pages and return more relevant and meaningful results. If you have been involved with article marketing, you know that many of the article sites had become home to some truly horrendous content. I’ve seen countless “articles” that were so bad it looked like someone dropped 250 words in a blender, and then poured them out on a page. Even worse, some of these articles actually showed up at the top of the SERPs.more

August 12, 2011

Are You Really an Entrepreneur … Or Simply a Service Provider?

by Pete Brand

I think every business owner has come to a point in their business career when they say to themselves, “Sometimes I think it would be much easier to just go get another job!” Well, if you haven’t, I can assure you I’ve found myself in that position many times, but thankfully it was only a passing thought similar to a gas pain. :) I had a conversation with a business owner a couple weeks ago who was faced with an opportunity to take on a full-time position. He was struggling with the decision to shut down his company and move into the land of employment. As he explained the opportunity to me, I quickly understood the challenge he was facing. He’s amazing at what he does and almost every client he’s worked for gives a glowing review of the value they’ve received throughout their business relationship. His business is doing extremely well and there are no pressing financial disasters or lack of work that would be pushing him in the direction of leaving the world of an entrepreneur.more

August 10, 2011

A Social Media Managers’ Dilemma: Measuring ROI

by MINDSCAPE

Note: This is part one of a series of posts about measuring ROI of Social Media Picture this….. You FINALLY convinced your boss to let you champion that social media marketing effort you’ve been pitching for a year. YAY! You've created an awesome social media strategy, joined Facebook and Twitter (and maybe even YouTube or wherever else your awesome strategy told you to join). You're building your fan base, you're engaging in conversation, and you are in front of your computer every second of every day waiting with baited breath for the next opportunity to respond. Seriously- it is flat out AWESOME! Fast forward 6 months….more

August 9, 2011

How to Build a Solid Email List

by MINDSCAPE

Image Credit: Idea Go If you’ve read my posts about How to Get Started in Email Marketing and How Often to Email Your Customers, you may be thinking: "That’s great information, but how do I build an email list in the first place?" Good question! There are many different list services out there that you can purchase email addresses from, and still I’ve always questioned the success rate. I prefer to build my own lists to ensure that these are people (note: PEOPLE) who have visited the website and either requested information or found it helpful enough to request consistent communications. Building an email list can take time. Here are 8 tips to help you get started with building your list:more

August 7, 2011

Link Building DOs and DON'Ts

by Pete Brand

Link building is an extremely important part of search engine optimization and is a critical part of developing an online presence. Unfortunately, it can be a long process and if not done correctly, can result in serious damage to your brand. The good news is that quality link building pays off by helping increase traffic to your site and improve your search engine ranking. Our link building experts collaborated on a list of dos and don’ts to help you get started:more

August 4, 2011

How to Respond to Comments on Social Media

by MINDSCAPE

One of the biggest fears for companies entering the social media world is receiving criticism from users or customers. Often, we hear that they are concerned about what people will say to them, about them, or that they will look bad on social media. Guess what- they are already saying stuff about your brand!! Regardless if feedback is positive or negative, people are talking about your brand. That’s why it is important to monitor these conversations and engage in social media to give your organization a voice. However, determining how to respond when someone is taking about your company on social media can be difficult at first. Start by reviewing the feedback and determining what the tone is. Most comments can be categorized as positive, negative, or offensive. Here is an overview of how to handle each situation:more

August 2, 2011

Content and Our Mobile World

by MINDSCAPE

Mobile is convenient. Mobile is there with us, no matter where we are or what we do. We don't have to be sitting at home or in the office or in a coffee shop where our laptops are plugged in. Our world is outlet-less, whether we're in a meeting or on the bus or walking downtown. In the past, mobile was the future. It is now the present. So what does your mobile content look like? Is it easily navigational? Is content clear and distinct, or does it get jumbled or lost? Jumbly content is not fun for anyone. So how can you ensure your content is up-to-snuff?more

July 28, 2011

How To Write a Simple Facebook Share App

by MINDSCAPE

Can I Just Cut Some Code Already? All I wanted to do was let users share a video link from a web app I was building. I thought it would be easy. And you know what, it probably is. It's probably easier than what I'm going to show you here. But is it simply stated somewhere in Facebook's documentation? Not that I could find. So after piecing together parts of their docs, plowing through search after search and reading a multitude of blog posts, I came up with this solution.more

July 26, 2011

How to Build a Fan Base on Social Media

by MINDSCAPE

Contrary to popular belief, the “thrill” of social media has not gone away; if anything, it’s in full swing! I know this because of the increasing amount of questions that we receive from prospects and clients about social media. One of the most common questions I receive from people is how to get more fans/followers. I’ll be honest with you- it’s a question I’ve thought about for a long time. I’ve researched ways to build your fan base, talked to numerous social media folks, and observed what other brands have done trying to get an idea of what the best tactics/strategies are to build a fan base. There are a lot of ideas out there on how to do this, but I still find it difficult to determine exactly what you can really do to build your fan base.more

July 25, 2011

How to Track Search Position in Google Analytics

by Jeff Bell

With Google’s latest Panda update and recent Google Account policy change, search results are becoming more and more customized to user’s individual habits. As a result, it’s becoming a little more difficult to know exactly what your Google search position is. You could be positioning 1 for yourself (c’mon, who doesn’t Google themselves often!?) and position 15 for someone else. As Google starts to merge some Webmaster Tools data into Google Analytics, they are quietly slipping in some cool new parameters that we can track. One the most recent ones that I came across allows us to track the position of the results that showed up for that user! It requires a little bit of set-up but any Ninja who has gone through the Mindscape Internet Marketing Academy will be able to make quick work of this!more

July 18, 2011

Google Apps Transition: The pain you’ll feel and how to fix (some of) it

by MINDSCAPE

Google Apps for Business is a great solution for companies that want email, calendar and documents hosted in the cloud by Google. Mindscape, where I work, has used Google Apps for Business for a number of years now. It allows me to have aaron [at] mindscapesolutions.com as my email address. What it did not allow in the past was for me to access tools like Google Reader, Checkout, Picasa, and a number of other popular, ancillary services from Google. What I could do, however, was create a second Google account using the same aaron [at] mindscapesolutions.com address. This account had to have a separate password, but as a standard Google Account, I had access to those other Google Services. I wasn’t interested in using my work email to access those other services. So I made it even more complicated. My wife runs her own photography business, www.branderphoto.com. I use aaron [at] branderphoto.com as my personal email. It’s also a Google Apps for Business account. So, when I wanted to access Google Reader, and Checkout and Analytics and Picasa, I had to have a separate aaron [at] branderphoto.com account, with a different password, to access those accounts.more

July 14, 2011

Google's Panda Update: Signals take power

by Paul Ferrier

If you're focused on getting your site to the top of the search engines, you understand the battle we have against spammers (crap sites). Google is constantly trying to further optimize their algorithm to get rid of the spam sites (spam sites, for example, are link sites you'll land on that provide you with no value). If Google always sends users to sites that provide no value, people will stop using them. So it's in Google's best interest to make sure their search results are the best possible. Before, getting to the top of the search engines was a fairly level playing field for spammers (black hat) and real optimizers (white hat). It came down to some basics of optimizing the page to communicate with the search engines and building lots of quality links (I am over simplifying this a bit, but you get what I am saying). Anyone could tell the search engines anything they wanted and the search engine believed them to a certain level. And BIG power lied in the links. Until Panda.more

July 13, 2011

What Can a Website Do?

by MINDSCAPE

I had a meeting with a company that doesn’t have a website. Yes, businesses like that do still exist. Even in a day where it seems like you can get a website just about anywhere. They believed that they had to sell online in order to justify the investment in a website. I’m here to tell you there are many, many things a website can do for every business.more

July 11, 2011

Google+ for Business: Feature "Wish List"

by MINDSCAPE

You may have heard that Google+ asked businesses to wait before creating a business profile on the new social network. This is because they are working on some kind of platform or design specific to business use. For those of us frustrated by various businesses use of persona profiles on Facebook, this is great news. It means that Google+ will integrate businesses from the beginning, instead of creating something as an afterthought. Since it looks like it will be a few weeks before we’ll see a business feature in the new platform, I thought it would be fun to share my “wish list” for features I’d like included in this new design. Google- are you listening?!?more

July 7, 2011

A review of Google+ after the first 24 hours

by MINDSCAPE

So I finally got into Google+…. YAY! Now what? Here are my thoughts after 24 hours of using this new service. Due to great timing and luck, I FINALLY was able to get in and start using Google +, the newest social media platform from Google. Since I’ve been clamoring for an invite to the exclusive social networking site, you can imagine how excited I am that I actually got in! Now I am the envy of all my peers, also clamoring for an invite, while I get to bask in Google+ elite glory….. I obviously did a lot of research before joining this service so the process of signing up was no surprise to me. When you first start in Google + you are prompted to create “Circles” to organize your friends and contacts. If you are not familiar, the concept of “Circles” is actually pretty cool- Google understands that how we interact with each social circle of our lives can differ greatly. For example, the language and actions you use with your close friends is very different from how you behave in a professional work environment.more

July 1, 2011

How the Google + Project will Make Our Lives Easier

by Pete Brand

I’m sure you remember Google Wave right? What about Google Buzz? When those services began I have to admit I was very excited to get in and try them out, and before I even had the chance, I was convinced they’d be successful. As I look back and try to determine the basis for that belief or excitement, I find it challenging to see what led me there besides my “biz-crush” on Google. I’m thinking I must have been blinded by my admiration and was allowing myself to believe that whatever they attempted to do, they’d do, and do well. Well … I learned my lesson, and I’ve made a commitment to never arrive at an “absolute” opinion again without taking the time to do some research and think things through more thoroughly before establishing my opinion.more

June 23, 2011

Brand New FB Tab

by MINDSCAPE

new Facebook Tabmore

June 16, 2011

The Art of Content

by MINDSCAPE

Content is the core of any website. Duh. Content is the meat of your website. It gets the message to the audience, hence, it is the most important part of your site. But there are many – too many – marketers who do not understand the critical value of content. Please read carefully.  more

June 12, 2011

6 steps to successful web development

by Pete Brand

We’ve all found ourselves in the position of wondering what we could do to make a successful website and capitalize on the tremendous opportunities that exist online. If you are over the age of 35, this “technology stuff” might have you feeling completely overwhelmed and wondering if you will ever fully understand it to make money online. Succeeding on the Web is much easier than you would expect. This article will teach you the six steps necessary to be successful online. I guarantee it is much easier and more logical than you’ve ever believed. So, for all you 35+ geezers out there (myself included), just follow the formula, take action and you will be amazed at the results.more

May 27, 2011

3 Reasons Why Marketing Sucks

by Pete Brand

I am guessing if you know me and that I own an Internet Marketing firm that you think I’ve either lost my mind or that I am planning on a career change very quickly. I’d have to say I’m getting closer to losing my mind than EVER considering a career change. The bottom line is I love marketing, I just hate the way companies and even some “marketing professionals” interpret what good marketing is. I think these same companies and individuals either forgot why they started their business, or perhaps simply started it for the wrong reasons. I believe the most successful companies in the world started their company with the intention of solving a problem that existed in the marketplace, and they had a focus on serving people who were experiencing that problem. Hey, I’m not naive. I know there are also far more people out there who simply jump into industries based on the obsession of chasing dollars and not because they are following their passion. I have no problem with these people either as long as they remember their responsibility to serve the clients they gain along the way. The following are three things that I believe give people a bad taste in their mouths about marketing.more

May 15, 2011

Focus on Providing Value, Not Making Money

by Pete Brand

It's easy to get caught in the trap of constantly focusing on how we can make more money with our business. Some nights you lay in bed tossing and turning trying to figure out how you can increase your sales an additional $10k each month to afford that new employee, or maybe just so you can stop ending up in the red each month. It's a horrifying feeling and eliminates any chance you'll get quality sleep until you figure it out.more

May 11, 2011

Welcome!

by MINDSCAPE

**CLICK LIKE ABOVE!**more

April 8, 2011

Email Marketing and Mobile Devices: Tips To Create Mobile Friendly Email

by MINDSCAPE

I read recently that nearly 78% of all users check email on their mobile device. That got me thinking about email marketing and mobile devices…how can we improve deliverability? And how can we make emails easier to read for subscribers? Are you registered with different organizations and businesses who send you regular email messages? How many do you read on your phone? What do you see when you read messages on your mobile device? Those that are mostly text are a lot easier to read, aren’t they!?more

April 4, 2011

How Often Should You Email Your Customers?

by MINDSCAPE

Not sure how often you should communicate with your customers? Our sales and web marketing expert, Rebecca Dutcher, shares her thoughts.....more

March 31, 2011

An easier way to transitioning your "Friend" page to a "Fan" page

by MINDSCAPE

You may remember that I wrote a blog a while back about why you should set your business up on Facebook as a "fan page" instead of a friend account. And, you may remember my follow up blog about HOW to transition over, where I detailed steps on how to complete the transformation from a friend account to a fan page. These steps were very long and tedious, but at the time was the only way to make the switch. However, I discovered yesterday that there is an easier way. Before, businesses were setting up accounts incorrectly as friend pages. Often times, they built a large friend base before realizing their mistake. However, they were not converting them to fan pages because the process was so difficult and tedious. Facebook FINALLY woke up and realized they needed to make it easier to make the transition from a friend page to a fan page. And thus, I give you your one click option to make the switch..... WAIT though, before you click, read my notes about the conversion first so you know what to expect.more

March 21, 2011

A High School Student's Perspective on being a MINDSCAPE Intern

by MINDSCAPE

MINDSCAPE is pleased to be a part of the City of Grand Rapids Mayor's 50 program. This program is designed to give 50 local high school students an opportunity to intern for local businesses. As part of the program, the student receives a paid internship with up to ten hours a week for six months. These students apply to be part of the program and are selected by the business based on interest, talent and skills. In addition, the students receive comprehensive training to prepare them for the business world prior to beginning their internship. Devin Rittenhouse, the first of our Mayor's 50 interns, wanted to share his thoughts on his experience at MINDSCAPE for 6 months. Devin is a junior at Rockford High School and recently turned 16 years old. He wrote a blog so we could share with you- click "read more" to check out what he wrote!more

March 18, 2011

Why Link Tagging is Important for Social Media ROI

by MINDSCAPE

For a few months now, my friend Jeff Bell has been bugging me to use link tagging in my social media postings and e-mails I send for the company. He’s all hopped up on his recent Google Analytic Certification and LOVES to tell me about the cool analytics tools available in there. (Yeah, I know, SNOOZE FEST, but he’s my bestie so I try really hard to pay attention!) Anyway- he kept going on and on about all the benefits of using link tagging to track driving traffic to the site. He’d say things like “you need to use link tagging because…” Every time he did this, my A.D.D. would kick in and I’d start to notice something shiny! Nonetheless, he’d diligently keep bringing the topic up harping on me about why I’m not using them more in social media postings and I’d continue to change the topic or find something shiny to pay attention too.more

March 8, 2011

Email Marketing Strategies and Tips To Get You Started

by MINDSCAPE

Is email marketing still relevant? In a word, Yes! Email marketing is still a key connection point with your customers and prospects. With the influence and immediacy of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks, email marketing is how you can provide valuable information to your prospects and customers. Email’s can include information that they’ve opted in, and asked you to share with them. Social media is still incredibly important, but in this post, I’m just talking about email.more

February 28, 2011

How to Transition your Business' Facebook Friend Page to a Fan Page

by MINDSCAPE

NOTE: This is a follow up to my recent blog about the differences between a friend page and a fan page. It happens for many reasons: You hired someone to handle your social media who didn’t know what they were doing and they set up your business as a “friend account” on Facebook. Or, maybe you were just getting started on Facebook and weren’t sure what you were doing, so you set up your business as a friend account. Or maybe you did it intentionally, because it’s easier to build a fan base and interact on Facebook as a person (SHAME ON YOU!). Regardless of the reason, after reading my last blog about the differences between a friend page and fan page, you know you need to change your business over to a fan page. But how do you do this?more

February 25, 2011

The Good And Bad of Google's New War on Content Farms (and How It Affects You)

by Paul Ferrier

Google announced late yesterday that it will make a major shift to its algorithm to significantly improve the quality of their search results by punishing and effectively diminishing content farm sites from the top of their SERP (search engine results page). You may not know what a content farm site is, but I guarantee you've landed on them many many times. It's those sites you click to after a search only to find a bunch of terrible, non-relevant content and a ton of ads or links to other sites. More likely than not, you clicked back to Google and tried another site, which is exactly why Google is making this change. They (Google) effectively drove you to a site that did not provide you with value, and it's Google's objective to give you the highest quality, relevant content for your search as possible.more

February 23, 2011

Fan page vs. Friend Page: Why your business needs to understand the difference!

by MINDSCAPE

I’ve talked about this before- the difference between a friend account and a fan page on Facebook, but for some reason, I don’t think that the message is getting through. So I’m dedicating a rather long blog to discuss this topic is detail with the hopes of educating everyone and putting an end to this issue.more

February 15, 2011

Graphing Search Engine Rank

by Jeff Bell

Have you ever had to graph or chart your search engine rank over time, only to find that the results looked less than impressive? By default, when trying to graph these things in Excel, the picture looks bleak because all of our trend lines go down – toward 1. We would all love to have our sites rank at position 1 but this chart certainly does not make that clear!more

January 26, 2011

Roll up Reporting in Google Analytics

by Jeff Bell

Every once and a while there are reasons where you may have some site owners who want individual reports for themselves and then some other entity wants to measure each site against the others.  This can often be the scenario in the case of a franchise.more

January 21, 2011

Dark Patterns: Interfaces Designed to Manipulate Users

by Mark Swanson

Through some random surfing over at Smashing Magazine, I came across a site devoted to Dark Patterns. I was unfamiliar with the phrase, so spent a little time reading about it. What I found was that the phrase “Dark Patterns” is a catch all that applies to a variety of deceptive design patterns in web design. I watched a 30 minute lecture on Dark Patterns to become more familiar. Here are a few of the different Dark Pattern techniques I learned about.more

January 17, 2011

Why Small Businesses’ NEED to understand Social Media before Starting

by MINDSCAPE

Written by Christina Torri, Social Media Coordinator for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of new brands popping up on social media. I’m not talking about “big names” brands, but the “little guys” who are FINALLY realizing that social media can help to build brand awareness and connect with their customers. However, I get the feeling that someone just told them they should “make a Facebook page” and so that’s what they did. Although I appreciate their willingness to try something new, what they don’t realize is the mistakes they are making could be damaging their brand, instead of improving it. Here are the 4 biggest mistakes that small business make on social media, in my opinion.more

January 11, 2011

Is Social Media Relevant for B2B?

by Pete Brand

If you are like me you’ve probably attended a number of social media seminars where the speakers guarantee you they’ll teach you exactly what it will take to succeed in Social Media. The only problem is, once you get through the seminar you are left wondering … How the heck do I apply this information to my B2B (Business to Business) company? It seems to me the majority of the “Social Media Presenters” are focused more on how to build your personal brand, or how to sell your product using social media. This isn’t all bad since there are many companies out there who can use this information. But what about those B2B companies that are selling services? Does this lack of education mean there simply isn’t a good application for social media in the B2B world? Absolutely not!more

January 7, 2011

HTML 5 and the Mobile Web

by Mark Swanson

If you’re a web developer, all the HTML5 talk of the past year or so most likely gets you pretty excited. I won’t go into the details and specs of HTML5 because chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with what HTML5 has to offer and all the great things that are coming with it. I sat in on a couple HTML5 sessions at the Future of Web Design Conference in New York a couple months back and while it’s all really cool and exciting, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated thinking that the technology is at our disposal, but it could be a few years before we can really utilize this for our clients due to the legacy Internet Explorer browsers out there that are incapable of handling modern technology on the web. Then I started thinking about HTML5 and the mobile web and got excited again.........more

January 5, 2011

People are using the mobile web to purchase (or not purchase) your products.

by Mark Swanson

Even though mainstream adoption of the mobile web as an commerce tool may be a couple years off, people are using their mobile devices to make purchasing decisions right now.more

December 17, 2010

22 Ways to Ensure Your Company is Seen Online

by MINDSCAPE

If you have the most amazing company in existence, a product that can fix everything short of bringing world peace, and you are offering those solutions for FREE … it does you absolutely no good if nobody knows you exist. When I look back over the 12 years I’ve been involved in the online space I can think of many times that companies have approached us and wanted to “create a new website.” The challenge with an emerging industry is the lack of knowledge on exactly what it takes to be successful. We’ve done our best to let clients know once the website is created, there are far more things that need to happen to make that website a successful online entity. This blog post will clearly lay out some tactics, that if applied, will help dramatically increase the likelihood that your website will bee seen, and your wonderful solutions discovered. Foundation Once you’ve determined exactly what you’d like to accomplish with your online presence, the first step is to utilize the vast amount of information online to get to know your “buyers” very well. I’m not simply talking about identifying demographic information, I’m talking about truly getting into their heads to determine what they truly want, what barriers stand between them and your product, what influencing factors exist, and most importantly the exact language they speak. Your goal should be to find people and companies who are experiencing a certain set of problems of which your company can provide a solution. If a company knows the name of your company already, they’ll most likely be able to find you online. Since this is the case you should put your focus on not only identifying the set of problems that would lead someone to search for you, but most importantly identifying the way these seekers speak and will refer to the solution they are looking for. It’s important to spend some time doing some keyword research with a tool like the Google Keyword Tool or any other keyword research tool, to determine the problems that are searched for the most, and how the seekers refer to that particular problem. If you take this time, you’ll have the ability to strategically position your content in the search results on multiple platforms. Although it is much easier to simply fire up the computer and hack away at your keyboard, if you are looking to show measurable results, it’s necessary to spend the few minutes it takes to ensure you are creating relevant, compelling content that is highly sought after.more

December 15, 2010

The Social Landscape of 2011: 4 Trends to Keep Your Eye On

by MINDSCAPE

From the emergence of location based applications like Foursquare to the rapid growth of Facebook to over 500 million users, no one can argue that social technologies exploded into mainstream staples this year. Looking back at the year in review, we saw many advances in the way we experience and interact with the web. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do have some ideas of what the future of social media will look like. And, I predict that 2011 will continue the evolution of social technologies and become a hub for the entire web. Here are a few highlights of what I think 2011 will bring for us in social media:more

December 3, 2010

Best Buy: Our Review of an E-Commerce Site

by MINDSCAPE

The holiday shopping season is upon us. Retailers are clamoring for the hottest deals, promotions, and attractions to gain your business. Given the huge focus on e-commerce this month, it seemed appropriate to provide a review and analysis on a huge national brand with an active online presence. There are many sites to choose from, but we decided to focus on Best Buy’s website, www.bestbuy.com.more

December 1, 2010

Celebrities "Die a Digital Death": #fail

by MINDSCAPE

Did you see this? Big name Twitter celebs like Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, and others died a “digital death” today. The idea was orchestrated by Alicia Keys in efforts to raise $1 Million for World AIDS Day and the charity Keep a Child Alive. It’s a great cause to support and is certainly drawing a lot of attention to a great charity. However, I can’t help but wonder if this is the most effective use of social media. It seems to me this defeats the whole purpose of social media; the whole point is to engage, communicate, and connect with followers. If you’re not able to do that, how are you generating buzz that this is going on?more

November 17, 2010

Why is Google covering their PPC advertisers?

by Paul Ferrier

I must admit that I am a bit puzzled by Google's recent moves to lay content over top of their PPC ads. Here are a couple recent examples of this: Local Search: The new local search map slides down the page and over PPC ads as you scroll Instant Preview: The preview overlaps the PPC ads, taking them out of focus. It almost seems fishy...like what are they trying to train us to do now? :) Ads are their core revenue generator. Seems crazy to cover them up.more

November 15, 2010

Getting Started in Social Media, on Twitter

by MINDSCAPE

Old ways to measure your online success were eyeballs, page-views, time spent on the site/page, number of fans and followers. Now, it’s important to look at interactions, the number of inbound inks to your site/pages, blog comments, retweets and likes from your posts. Out of 90 Million tweets a day, and over 1 million unique urls shared every day, how do you get started and how do you stand out? Have you ever thought of Twitter as a search engine? You should.more

November 11, 2010

Testing and Measurement is Critical to Online Success: 9 Metrics to Keep an Eye On

by Pete Brand

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of attending workshops, reading articles and blog posts, and hearing the same statement over an over again, “To be successful online you need to test, measure, and test some more.” Don’t get me wrong, I believe that statement is completely true. I just get irritated to hear people say it over and over again, yet they never provide any useful metrics to gage that success. Are those metrics some guarded secret of the so called “gurus” out there, or are they simply regurgitating something they heard in an article or a live appearance from some other so called “guru” they are emulating? Unfortunately whenever there is a new technology or product innovation, there is a flood of opportunistic people and organizations who enter the marketplace trying to position themselves as the experts. I certainly don’t have an issue with that, since that’s marketing and typically the first to gain top of mind awareness in a particular area usually wins. That has changed a bit with the emergence of the Internet and it has made it challenging to hold on to that top position. The problem I have is that the people and organizations with the least amount of knowledge seem to have the biggest mouths and get the most attention initially. Although these people and organizations are eventually exposed when the naivety in the marketplace starts to dissipate, companies end up losing a bunch of money unnecessarily because they follow these ill equipped “gurus.” What are some examples of these ineffective metrics?more

November 9, 2010

Google Instant Preview will influence future website design

by Paul Ferrier

Google is once again trying to improve search with the release of their latest feature named Google Instant Preview. Basically you'll be able to roll over a magnifying glass icon and get a screenshot view of the website you'd be visiting if you click. This isn't a new concept, but new from Google. There are browser add-ons you can get such as CoolPreviews that give you this same functionality.more

November 5, 2010

The NFL.com: A Website Analysis from our Perspective

by MINDSCAPE

Websites are already a staple in business today. Whether your company is big or small, it is necessary for everyone to have a web presence. That’s why we thought it would be fun to analyze a well-known website every month for you and give you our thoughts on what makes it work, what we like, and some gaps we discovered. Our team of programmers, designers, SEO experts, and Social Media guru’s will be tearing apart a well-known site and sharing our comments and thoughts with you. Our hope is that it will keep you thinking about your own site, what you can be doing better with it, and help give you ideas to make it more successful. And, since its November and still football season, we figured it was as good of time as any to kick off our new series and analyze the NFL’s website (www.nfl.com).more

November 4, 2010

Updates to webTRAIN support

by MINDSCAPE

We have made a significant effort to make sure you get the help or answers that you are looking for. There are two main channels to get help. 1. If you need help learning how to do something, our Get Satisfaction support forum is the place to go. We post helpful articles, webTRAIN updates, and ideas on the forum. You can search the forum, ask your own question, help other users, report problems, or let us know what we’ve done right.more

November 3, 2010

Facebook = Success in the Midterm Elections

by MINDSCAPE

Well, the midterm elections have come to a close. The constant commercials, media coverage, and discussions can calm down for, well, a few months at least. But as I sit here on the morning after the mid-term elections, I can’t help but notice the impact of social media and how it relates to the victories across the board. No matter what side your on, it's clear that the social media (and the internet in general) have changed the political landscape forever. According to allfacebook.com, a staggering 3,482,253 people were fans of republican candidate fan pages nationally. Compare that to the 1,456,798 fans that democrats pulled in. Based on that statistic alone, it’s no surprise that Republicans took control of the house and narrowed the gap in the senate.more

October 14, 2010

New Facebook + Bing Partnership = Wakeup Call

by Paul Ferrier

Facebook and Microsoft's search engine Bing came to a new partnership agreement. The following was reported by Bloomberg on October 13, 2010: "Facebook Inc. expanded its partnership with Microsoft Corp.’s Bing search engine, letting people automatically see what their Facebook friends think about the topics they’re seeking information on. Bing’s new search screen also will let users become a person’s friend on Facebook or send a message to the social- networking service, Microsoft and Facebook said today at a media event in Mountain View, California. Searches for restaurants or movies will spotlight the ones that a user’s friends like." Whoa. Re-read that last sentence. "Searches for restaurants or movies will spotlight the ones that a user’s friends like."more

September 1, 2010

How much does a website cost?

by MINDSCAPE

Chances are if you’re in any kind of sales or marketing related position, the company’s website has come up. You’ve likely been part of a team considering updating the website, redesigning the site or looking at ways to better market the site. Website costs vary. So what do you do? Ask around for referrals, likely engaged in a Google search and even checked out competitor sites to see if there was a link to “website developed by XYZ Company” at the bottom of the site.more

August 26, 2010

Facebook Chat to Drop IE6 Support (from Mashable.com)

by Paul Ferrier

I am SO happy to see Mashable.com report that Facebook Chat is dropping IE6 support. As long as people are forced to use IE6, they are forced to use a browser that doesn't take advantage of the latest and greatest technology.more

July 19, 2010

The Incredible Value of SEO vs PPC

by Paul Ferrier

If you've written off SEO (search engine optimization) as a search engine marketing tactic in favor of the presumably easier PPC campaign (pay-per-click), boy are you missing the boat! I am not going to talk about HOW to optimize your site for the search engines, but rather, showcase the tremendous importance it has for the success of your campaign, your website, and even your company related to traffic. Before we talk about the future, let's go back. Way back. Remember BANNER ADS? Sure, they're still around. Actually, they're still all over. But when is the last time you recall seeing a banner ad on a site and clicking on it? Chances are, you don't…because you didn't. This is so common, there's a term that's been created called "banner blindness".more

March 29, 2010

Facebook: Invite All Friends Code

by Paul Ferrier

Ok, if you've spent any time inviting friends on Facebook to become a fan of something, you know it can take forever. Here's some quick instructions on how to invite all your friends instantly.more

March 23, 2010

Spend More Time With Your Family (and have a job)

by Paul Ferrier

Something I experienced over a 3 second period on my walk into the office building this morning inspired me to write this. It was a deep inhale of brisk, downtown Grand Rapids air. I actually had to take a double sniff. The first inhale caught my attention, but it was that second deep, lung filling gulp of air that whisked my mind away to the warm breeze of Cancun, Mexico. It was that smell. A magical mixture of clean air and something on the grill that did it. I was no longer walking down the sidewalk of Ottawa Avenue, I was relaxing pool side at the Royal Caribbean Resort with my wife, being served a mixed drink as the sun beat down on me (my mind works very fast). Ahh, what a feeling. The point? Let me get to it...more

February 18, 2010

Value Added Selling Online

by MINDSCAPE

We all want the best possible deal. However, the best possible deal is not necessarily the lowest price we can find. That is the point I try to make to people when showing them how to find what they are looking for online. The internet gives today’s consumers much more power than they had 20 years ago. Today, I can easily compare the selling price of TV in California with the same one selling in North Dakota. The problem this causes for sellers is that they have to put as much emphasis on added value as they do on price. Low prices are simply not enough anymore. Sure, it will get you listed at the top of an ascending search for having the lowest price, but that is just the starting point. Are you expecting all your clients to buy on pricing alone? What if your price isn’t the lowest in the world? Remember, this is the World Wide Web we are dealing with here. Users can research retail information from around the globe. You have to do more today than just deliver a low price. Don’t get me wrong, price is a great starting point…but do you want to build your business around first-time and one-time shoppers? Or, do you want to do business with shoppers that come back to the same place because they feel like they get more from their purchases than just a low price?more

February 16, 2010

Internet Shopping and Marketing: A Consumer's Perspective

by MINDSCAPE

The web, as many know, is a new beast. Long gone are the days of first grabbing your phone book, flipping to the “Moving Company” section, and looking for the best looking ad or simply the nearest company. Back in those days the “leg work” of the sale was done after the initial contact. The rise of the internet era has completely reversed this train of thought. Consumers are now looking to have the work done by researching online, reading other customer’s reviews, and gathering as many facts as possible BEFORE any contact is made with the business. As potential buyers, today’s shoppers first leverage the power of the internet in their shopping experience. They don’t want to be contacted until they are ready to be. A shopper empowered with search engines is able to gather vast amounts of extremely precise decision-making data before even thinking about contacting a seller.more

February 11, 2010

I Have a Facebook Fan Page and Twitter Account ... How do I get Fans and Followers?

by Pete Brand

I received an email today from someone who is taking steps to get their company engaged in social media and now that they've got a presence, they'd like to know how to get followers and fans. I am sure this is a question you, and everyone else on the planet, has been faced with at one time or the other while wading into the social media-sphere. I know it was definitely a hot question for me in the beginning days. The famous line, "Build it and they will come," from the movie Field of Dreams is just that .... a dream! It's also NOT something that will happen within social media unless you are some HUGE celebrity and have an extreme amount of luck.more

February 2, 2010

IE6's Nail In The Coffin? Thank You Google.

by Paul Ferrier

I just received an email from Google Apps and am grinning from ear to ear. Google announced, "…we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers." Amen! IE6 was released in August of 2001! Yet people still use it today, not taking advantage of the latest technology. Could you imagine in 2001 using a browser from 1992. No, you wouldn't because the experience would be so much different (Mosaic was starting development in December of 1992!)more

January 25, 2010

Getting (or Staying) Motivated With A Positive Attitude

by Paul Ferrier

I have had this same question posed to me several times over the last year and I thought it would make a good blog post. It's no secret the last year has been very difficult for people personally and professionally. The good thing, however, is that the economy is looking up and the downturn has produced a lot of opportunity. But here's the question: How can I stay motivated when things are hard? For me, motivation is assisted mostly from attitude. Keeping an upbeat attitude is key even when you feel like you're getting kicked in the gut over and over again. What else is a big motivator? Money. You need it to survive, and you really need it for your business to survive. So here's a quick way to think positive and get motivated. Start by thinking about how much money you NEED to make to pay your bills and be happy per year (that's X). Something very realistic.more

December 4, 2009

Build Traffic to Your Website through Blogging

by Pete Brand

If you've ever been deep sea fishing I'm sure you remember how there were far more fishing poles with lines in the water than there were people on the boat. This helped increase the chances that each person on the trip enjoyed the awesome experience of hooking and reeling in a nice big fish. You should employ this same strategy when you are looking to build traffic to your website. The most effective way to do it is to expand your digital footprint by increasing the amount of content that links back to your website from other websites. You can accomplish this several ways which include: Online news releases Twitter Facebook Forum posts Link exchanges Etc.more

November 20, 2009

WARNING: Qualify Your "Internet Marketing Specialist"

by Paul Ferrier

For some companies, times are tough. So when a marketing manager or CMO (chief marketing officer) receives an email from an "Internet marketing specialist" who can get their site to the top of the search engines for a specific phrase, the company might jump at the opportunity. Marketers beware...these "opportunities" from these "Internet marketing specialists" may not be as good as they sound. Here's a real world example that just prompted this blog post.more

November 17, 2009

Step-by-Step Process to STOP Wasting Money On Your Online Marketing

by Pete Brand

So it's been a touch over two months since I posted my rant on the "posers" in the online marketing world. Believe it or not I am still fired up over the "hacks" that swindle business owners out of their money for services they are less than qualified to provide. I am quite sure I'll continue to be irritated because this type of junk will never stop. Rather than go off on another tangent, I want to provide some value and equip you with a step-by-step process I promised to post if enough of you asked for it. Well, I received several requests and although it's been awhile ... here you go!more

September 22, 2009

Why "Make My Logo Bigger" Can Actually Hurt You

by Paul Ferrier

A very common statement made by clients to their design firm is, "Make my logo bigger." In some instances this might be a good thing, like on a billboard where your target audience is doing 70 MPH (on a slow day). But I'm here to help you understand why "make my logo bigger" regarding your website is actually, believe it or not, a pretty bad idea. Let's face it. You love your company. With the logo being your staple, why wouldn't it be BIG on your website? The answer actually has two parts: Your logo doesn't sell and visitors really don't care. Now, let me explain.more

September 16, 2009

Do friends really influence purchases in social networks? The answer is...

by Paul Ferrier

Harvard Business School recently published a working paper titled Do Friends Influence Purchases in a Social Network. And I read it, of course. So I'll save you some time and give you a simple overview on what they learned, and what I learned from them. First, I had to get back to my Trigonometry and Calculus classes to get my head around all the equations they have in the document to define their findings. Very interesting. Very amazing. Very intelligent. And I am not pretending to really understand what all of it was. Ha. Second, the paper is a working paper, so a bit of duplicate content to get through. Unless they were just trying to really drive the point home. :) Third, I found it odd that a paper from 2009 would use data mined in 2004. Sure seems like behaviors could change over this 4+ year span. Ok, so this is what I gained from it:more

August 31, 2009

Focus On Profitable, Targeted Traffic to Succeed Online

by Pete Brand

It drives me nuts when I'm helping a client who trusted a, so called, "professional" to help them with their optimization or pay-per-click campaign, and all they did was flush their money down the toilet. I'd like to take a second to make an announcement to all those "professionals" out there who insist on preying on the naivity in the marketplace ... STOP PRETENDING YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING MORONS!!!! Sorry for the harsh words and tone but I am tired of it. The more of this garbage that happens in the marketplace, the more the industry I love gets muddied up.more

August 24, 2009

Why Should Your Prospects Choose You? Show Them You Are Worthy!

by Pete Brand

It's interesting to look at the process people go through when starting a new website ... Once they decide they need a site they begin to plan what content they'd like to have on the site. The majority of the companies decide they need a page that talks about them so they add an "About Us" page to their site. Secondly they would like to talk about their products or services so they add a "Products" or "Services" page to their site. The most important part to the new website is giving it's visitors the ability to contact them to do business or ask questions which is where the infamous "Contact Us" page comes from. I could go on and on but I am guessing you've seen these types of pages on almost every website you've ever been to, so I won't bore you. I am sure when you decided to get your first website online you had the intention of increasing your business and tapping into the "gold mine" the Internet makes available to us all. Heck, this was my initial motivation as well and I'm sure this is no earth shattering revelation. Well the problem with this process of developing a website is unfortunately absolutely wrong. No, I'm not saying you won't make any sales or receive any phone calls by structuring your website this way. I am just saying you are limiting the potential revenue by doing it and you could do MUCH better.more

July 3, 2009

You May Think You Are Helping Others ... But Find Out You Were The One Getting Helped!

by Pete Brand

Today was an amazing day down here in the Dominican Republic on many levels. Although I leave tomorrow to come home, I am not returning alone. I'll be bringing memories of all the kids we had the opportunity to help and meet while we were down here home with me. I've been feeling like I wanted to help others who were less fortunate than myself for the past six months or so. I didn't know what I wanted to do, or how I could help, and then this opportunity arose. I personally believe that everything happens for a reason and I immediately decided I wanted to go. I purposefully decided to not draw any preconceived notions of what it was going to be like. I've seen presentations from people who have attended mission trips in the past, so I had an idea of what it MIGHT be like, but I decided to just go and let the experience happen. WOW am I glad I did. I would have never guessed in a million years how powerful it would be!more

July 1, 2009

Doing Good and Having Fun Can Transcend a Language Barrier

by Pete Brand

Well I am on day three down here in the Dominican Republic and somehow my body is still functioning. I won't lie ... I am not someone that partakes in much physical labor. It's not that I don't enjoy it ... well ok, I don't, but I am loving every second of it down here. :) Today we were up early and headed back to the school in Herrera to do some painting. Our little 12 person team painted four classrooms and the kitchen! The walls were quite dirty to begin with but once we were finished everything looked fresh and new! If only we could see the looks on the students faces when they return to the newly painted walls. I am sure they'll enjoy it since they are some of the most appreciative people I've ever met.more

June 30, 2009

What Excuse are You Using to Not Improve Your Situation?

by Pete Brand

I can't tell you how many times I've came up with what I believed was an incredible idea, and either came up with a reason why it wouldn't work or simply didn't take any action toward making that idea a reality. I'm sure you have found yourself in the exact same situation. Think about how many times you've heard yourself saying one of the following statements... I am just too busy. I would love to do (insert goal here) but I just can't afford it. That may work for some people but I don't think it will work for me. or the infamous ... I will get around to it someday! I read a statement in an article earlier this year and was compelled to write it on a post it note and stick it to my desk. The statement was, "There is never a lack of good ideas, only a lack of follow through." I don't think there is a statement that could be a truer reflection of REALITY!more

June 29, 2009

Take a Break from Focusing on Your Success and Focus on Giving Back!

by Pete Brand

I know I typically use this blog to write about Internet marketing strategies, web marketing tactics, and basically whatever it takes to be successful online. Well, in my opinion there is no reason to do all the hard work to become successful online if you don't GIVE BACK! Call it good karma, call it blessings, call it whatever you want. We are all human beings inhabiting the same planet and it's very easy to get caught up in ourselves and forget there are many less fortunate people who could use our help. I personally have never either had the opportunity, or found the motivation to make the decision to pitch in to help make the world a better place. Until now!more

June 11, 2009

Use Email Marketing to Increase Your Value

by Pete Brand

How many times have you purchased something where you knew you weren't getting all the benefits that you could? A perfect example of this is one that all of us in our mid-to-late thirties, and up, can think of. Remember way back in the old days when they created that thing called a VCR? I still have one of those prehistoric machines and you know what? It's still blinking 12:00 over and over again. :) Not only that but I still have no idea of how to program it to record a show at a pre-set time. Read the instruction manual you say? Whatever! I don't have the time or patience. This isn't just a problem with hard products. It relates to services as well, and it's even more critical for you to address if it is tied to a membership type product.more

June 10, 2009

Support Your Website Visitors through Empowerment

by Pete Brand

It's amazing how many sites I end up on these days that have still not embraced the interactivity available online.more

June 8, 2009

Seven Steps to Lose Weight with Twitter

by Pete Brand

You might be saying, "Come on now! The only thing social media does is add to my waistline since I spend too much time in front of the computer."more

June 1, 2009

Five Steps to Market Your Business with Text Messaging

by Pete Brand

I remember the days before cell phones. Remember when you needed to wait until your friend returned home from the beach, or from thier cross-town visit with Aunt Bernice?more

May 31, 2009

How to Build an Online Community with Your Offline Customers

by Pete Brand

Let's face it, the Internet has changed the world and no matter what type of business you have, YOU NEED to figure out how to use it for your company.more

May 26, 2009

Ways to Innovate Your Company and Boost Your Bottom Line

by Paul Ferrier

Looking for ways to innovate your company? Consider creating relationships with your target market using web marketing.more

May 20, 2009

How to Use Twitter to Build Customer Loyalty

by Pete Brand

If you are anything like me you are probably of the mindset that the Internet has significantly lessened the level of customer loyalty that most companies are accustomed to.more

May 19, 2009

How to Use Twitter for Sales Prospecting

by Pete Brand

I find it strange how it's possible to go from having a difficult time grasping the concept of something, to finding endless ways to use it in a matter of a few months!more

May 18, 2009

How To Use Twitter for Your Business

by Pete Brand

Heck, until recently I didn't really understand the true power of Twitter so I figure this would be a good place to clear it all up.more

May 13, 2009

ENGAGE with Social Media or Risk HURTING Your Brand

by Paul Ferrier

I received an email from a client this morning through Facebook. It was the second one I received in as many days and I thought, “OK, they’re doing great! They’re active!”more

April 29, 2009

Confessions of a REFORMED Twitter Spammer

by Pete Brand

I HATE spam just as much as you do I promise! I already receive over 100 legitimate emails each day and if you were to add the amount of spam messages I get I'd say the number would be closer to 1,000.more

April 26, 2009

Does Mindscape Know What They are Doing ... Or are They a Fraud?!?

by Pete Brand

Don't you love it when one of your "competitors" gives counsel to one of your clients or friends and tries to discredit you while only working with partial information?more

April 22, 2009

Mindscape's HUGE Announcement

by Pete Brand

It's been a couple incredible days here at Mindscape! Yesterday we officially launched our new You Tube Channel which we've named the Mindscape Minute.more

April 14, 2009

Don't Let Social Media Steal Your Time!

by Pete Brand

I was talking with a business acquaintance yesterday about the power of Facebook and Twitter.more

April 13, 2009

Human Needs versus Business Needs ... Where are you?

by Pete Brand

Have you ever found yourself questioning why some people use such poor judgment?more

April 10, 2009

7 Steps to Create Massive Online Buzz

by Pete Brand

Can you remember a time when you were with your friends or family and you saw something on TV that was directly related to something you or your company produced? Can you remember the feeling of pride that overtook you?more

April 9, 2009

Build a Purpose Driven Website

by Pete Brand

Imagine for a minute, if you will, that you have just heard an incredible story about a new product on a news broadcast.more

April 8, 2009

Use Amazon.com to Get to Know Your Buyers Intimately

by Pete Brand

NEWS FLASH: Your buyers don't care about you, your company, or your products! They only care about "What's in it for them!"more

April 7, 2009

Building Trust and Friendships with Social Media

by Pete Brand

I've been in quite a few meetings lately where I listen to people complain about their declining sales numbers and they all seem to be focused intensely on the next tactic to use to increase their sales. Whether it is the new brochure, or the new addition to their website. The problem is ...more

April 6, 2009

WARNING! Facebook can destroy your future!

by Pete Brand

I’ve always been an a fairly conservative guy. Well that is once I entered the business world around 20 years ago. I’ve recently begun to marvel at how some of todays younger people seem to make decisions that limit their future opportunities in a huge way. Just think about the last time you were eating at a restaurant and your server showed up with those huge “disc type” earings in that look so painful. Have you ever seen what their ears look like when they take their ear rings out? YIKES! How about when you see a fairly attractive woman and once you get a closer look you see an odd tatoo on her neck just under her ear. Not hidden under the neckline. Right in clear view in an area where she could never hide it without a band aid.more

April 2, 2009

How to Build a Killer Email Database

by Pete Brand

It is amazing how many companies don't realize how incredibly valuable a solid email database is. It's truly the most valuable online asset a company has, and yet, they seem to completely ignore the importance by not including any tactics or calls to action on their website asking for this priceless piece of information ... the visitors email address.more

March 31, 2009

How to Create a Winning Content Strategy

by Pete Brand

How many times have you found yourself wishing you could find the perfect salesperson? You know the kind ... the salesperson who is at the office every day clearly communicating your message and hitting the mark every time. When the conversation begins with the prospect they immediately know this salesperson understands them completely and within just a few minutes they feel completely confident that your company's product offering is just right for them. Not only that, this salesperson can meet with far more clients than you ever dreamed was humanly possible. Well, I am here to tell you this sales person is available RIGHT NOW, and is willing to work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!more

March 30, 2009

Dominate Your Online Competition Through Espionage

by Pete Brand

Typically when we hear the word espionage we don't think of it as a strategy to legitimately increase your business. The word always seems to accompany an image of someone being led away in hand cuffs on their way to a long prison stay. Well I am hear to tell you espionage isn't always an unethical way of doing things. In fact, I think you'll find that the leading companies and organizations take part in this type of business strategy every day, and they do it without the fear of being locked away in a prison cell.more

March 29, 2009

Turn Your Website into an ATM Machine with Email Marketing

by Pete Brand

How many times have you found yourself in a discussion with one of your clients where you heard them say, "I didn't know you guys did that?" or "I never thought of taking that approach." I am not sure what your answer is but I can tell you I have heard that far too many times. All of us work hard to build awareness of our products or services through advertising and PR efforts. We work so hard to attract new clients and in the meantime we ignore the largest assets every company possesses. OUR OWN CUSTOMER BASE!more

March 27, 2009

If you want your website visitors to remember you ... ENGAGE THEM!

by Pete Brand

How many times have you found yourself looking at your website statistics and noticed that 90% + of your visitors were brand new? You may have looked at that statistic and found yourself getting excited that so many new people were finding you each month.more

March 23, 2009

Tips on selecting a domain name

by Paul Ferrier

A domain name can be difficult to select because there are so many variables that go into it. But let’s get the basics out of the way first. In a perfect world, your name is:more

March 23, 2009

How to set up a Google Analytics account to track your website visitors

by Pete Brand

I talk quite a bit about tracking the results of your website and typically refer everyone to Google Analytics. The reason for this is twofold. First of all setting up a Google Analytics account doesn't cost you anything and I personally believe Google does an excellent job of presenting the data in an easy to follow manner.more

March 23, 2009

Don't focus on making more money .... focus on providing more value!

by Pete Brand

Most of us get caught in the trap of constantly focusing on how we can make more money with our businesses. You know how it is ... some nights you lay there in bed tossing and turning trying to figure out how you can increase your sales just an additionally $10k each month to afford that new employee, or maybe to simply stop ending up in the red each month. That can be a horrifying feeling and often eliminate any chances of you getting quality sleep until you figure it out.more

March 18, 2009

Do you want to be successful online? Just do SOMETHING!

by Pete Brand

I listened to a webinar yesterday that was put on by Yanik Silver . There was a ton of great info on how to discover your unique genius - and combine what you love with meaning and income. One of the most important things I took from the webinar was that you don't have to go a million miles an hour toward reaching your goals. You can make significant progress by simply doing something consistently. They discussed a couple examples of individuals who had build entire businesses in approximately four hours that are producing significant income still today.more

March 17, 2009

If you JUST build it ... They WON'T come!

by Pete Brand

You may be one of those frustrated companies who spent tens of thousands of dollars on your website and feel like you want to jump out the window because you are getting absolutely no results and very few visitors from that huge investment. In fact you may be viewing your site as a HUGE expense and it doesn't feel as if that expense is ever going to deliver any revenue. Well I am here to tell you that doesn't have to be the case.more

March 16, 2009

Things to Consider When Planning Your Website

by Pete Brand

For some of you the thought of planning your website might be a foreign concept. Please don't let that statment get you upset, it is simply a reality. Most companies put very little thought into the structure and flow of their website and the results reflect that lack of thought very clearly. If you are a company that has taken the time to think through the structure and flow of your website ... CONGRATS! I am sure you are seeing excellent results. Even if you have, this post might help you improve those results.more

January 23, 2009

Does Social Networking Really Work? You Tell Me!

by Pete Brand

I received an email about three weeks ago regarding a potential interview opportunity with a gentleman ( Martin Meyer-Gossner) from Germany (at the time I thought he resided in the Netherlands). He was looking to talk with someone who had expertise in Web Strategy.more

January 20, 2009

Resolve to Increase Your Online Revenue in 2009 - AND STICK TO IT!!!

by Pete Brand

Ever year when the clock strikes midnight and we usher in a new year I get excited for all the new possiblities. I know this is simply a point of view and it truly is just another day of course, but many of us treat it as a new beginning. I typically take the last week of a year and reflect on the previous year's accomplishments and set my new resolutions and goals for the coming year. It is truly refreshing to take this time for reflection and quite exciting to look forward to the next 12 months.more

January 14, 2009

Email Marketing: Work hard to earn their business. Work hard to keep their permission.

by Paul Ferrier

We pride ourselves in educating clients on tools they can use to market their services online. In this case, it happened to be related to email marketing.more

November 19, 2008

da Vinci Style Marketing - Creativity with a business purpose

by Paul Ferrier

I was asked by my friend Rob Huisingh to participate in AIMWest's panel discussion about da Vinci style marketing at Grand Valley State University's Eberhard Center tonight.more

November 3, 2008

Cut advertising and lose the opportunity

by Paul Ferrier

Last week I had a conversation with a client who told me they were cutting back on their advertising to save money due to the recession.more

October 24, 2008

Marketing with Twitter

by Pete Brand

If you are at all like me you've probably looked at Twitter as a useless waste of time. Like I really care if someone is clipping their toenails! The only problem about my initial thoughts on Twitter is it seems to be everywhere these days. I was gettting a tire changed on my car and watching CNN in the customer lounge and they kept talking about "Tweets" and sending comments to their "Twitter" account.more

April 2, 2008

Opportunity + Planned Consistency = HUGE SUCCESS!

by Pete Brand

I figured since we are in the early stages and focusing on developing the proper mindset for your online success, I'd bring up a couple things I like to focus on that get me extremely motivated. When you are first beginning to focus your attention on your Internet initiative it is exciting, and at times can seem a bit overwhelming. There are so many ways you can attack your share of the market online, it's easy to stall out trying to decide the best way to do it.more

March 28, 2008

Let your passion fuel your new Internet business initiative

by Pete Brand

Alright! Now you have taken the time to determine exactly what you want with no boundaries and you've also taken the time to figure out what results you'll need to produce to attain this goal. Personally I believe you should feel more excited than ever since these two foundational steps are typically skipped right over by most companies which leads to their next experience in the process...FAILURE!more

March 27, 2008

Developing the proper mindset to maximize your online revenue (PART 2)

by Pete Brand

I am hopeful you've recognized the value in brainstorming and coming up with a "no holds barred" version of what you want to accomplish on the Internet. Over the years we all become conditioned to settle on our goals due to the obstacles which appear in our path. After numerous failures and rough spots we begin to arrive at the point where we think, "If I could just make enough to get by I'd be happy." Arriving at this point isn't a bad thing as long as you don't reside there for long. You would never tell your kids to make sure their expectations and hopes aren't too high, so why should you think that way about your future? Why shouldn't you be allowed to accomplish everything you dream of? The only way you won't is if YOU stop yourself from doing it.more

March 21, 2008

Developing the proper mindset to maximize your online revenue (PART 1)

by Pete Brand

Many companies simply don’t take the correct mental approach to developing their online strategy. Without this, the foundation will be weak and the opportunity for success can be greatly diminished. It is easy to SAY you want to make a whole lot of money on the Internet, but fully developing a plan and having the patience for it to play out is much more difficult. Let’s face it…we are all VERY busy running our companies and overseeing the day to day operations. Launching a new Internet initiative can seem to be a monumental task that will require much more effort than it is worth. Many companies find themselves overwhelmed early in the process, and quickly abandon their initial plan. Although they may not realize it…this abandonment may be costing them thousands or even millions of dollars.more

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