Are You Ready for Google’s Mobile-First Index?

Inbound marketingIt’s no secret that you need to have a mobile-responsive and user-friendly website in order to rank well on search engines. Google simply isn’t going to give the number one spot to a website whose mobile experience is extremely poor. In fact, as far back now as spring 2016, the search engine giant started rolling out penalizations to websites that weren’t mobile-friendly and responsive.

But if your website doesn’t optimize properly to a smartphone or tablet screen, your business is about to get pushed down even farther. 60% of all searches are conducted on mobile devices, and Google only wants the best results to get shown to its users.

So their newest plan is switching up their algorithm to a mobile-first index.

What does this mean?

Well in the past, Google has indexed websites for its search engine results pages (SERPs) entirely based on a user’s desktop experience. Over the past year or two, they’ve transitioned more and more to including a user’s mobile experience in their indexing.

But soon, they plan to move entirely over to mobile-first indexing, and ranking the content and experience on a website by what it looks like on a mobile device.

Essentially, if your business doesn’t have a mobile responsive website, the time is now to switch to a responsive design. Because your website could be majorly penalized in organic search results if the user experience on mobile is poor or the content isn’t well optimized and difficult to read.

How can you prepare for the mobile-first index?

Luckily you still have some time to prepare. Although no one is entirely sure when this will be rolled out (they’ve hinted at early 2018 and some sites have been tested on this mobile-first index throughout the last few months), we do know it will be sometime this year, and probably sooner rather than later.

So while you have time, you don’t have much of it. Here are a few things to get you started.

1. Ensure your business’s website is mobile-responsive.

The first thing you need to do is get your website optimized for a mobile experience. Regardless of who your target audience is, members of every generation are conducting online searches on mobile, and you need to get with the times.

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If you’re unsure if your website is mobile-friendly or not, you can easily check it with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Paste the URL to all of the main pages of your website into the box and allow Google to analyze it to ensure your website won’t be penalized.

If the analysis says the page isn’t mobile-friendly, see what you need to change in order to optimize it for a mobile experience.

2. Optimize your website’s site speed.

If there’s one thing you need to focus on to improve the experience for mobile users, it’s site speed. People on mobile are already on the go. This makes the need or desire for a snappy website that much more prevalent. And if your website is loading slowly, users are going to click away from it and possibly even go to a competitor’s website. In fact, over half of mobile site visitors will leave a site after 3 seconds of load time.

Luckily, Google has a tool for this, too. Use the search engine’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see what your website’s speed and optimization scores are. The results will let you know exactly what could be holding up load times and how to fix them.

3. Put all valuable content on your mobile site.

In the past, many webmasters and developers have actually created a separate website for mobile. If your business’s website is set up like this, don’t fret. Although it may be a smart idea at some point to switch to a website design or theme that is mobile responsive, having a separate mobile website (i.e., may not technically penalize you.

Essentially, Google will just start indexing that mobile site first before looking at your desktop site. What this means is that you need to ensure all of your primary and most valuable content is readily available for Google to index on your mobile site.

If you’ve previously kept your mobile site pretty bare bones, it’s time for a total overhaul. You want the search engine to still be able to index all of your content for its SERPs, so you may need to do some adjusting on your business’s mobile website.

You will also want to ensure that you claim your mobile website in Google Search Console to ensure the search engine knows where to find it. Verify that your mobile version is accessible by the GoogleBot with their robots.txt testing tool.

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4. Look into AMP webpages.

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is currently an open source initiative to help increase load times on mobile pages. AMPs are a project owned and hosted by Google, and will likely see an uptick in usage due to this new mobile-first indexing.

They are essentially instantly-loading webpages that offer a streamlined experience over desktop and mobile. It gets all crazy and technical and we don’t want to bore you, but basically, it takes out poorly performing code from webpages and apps and implements AMP-friendly JavaScript and HTML so that load times for webpages are near zero.

We predict that these will become more and more popular with the implementation of Google’s mobile-first indexing, and getting ahead of the curve with this could be a very smart decision for your business and website.

This new mobile-first indexing is certainly not the end of the world. In fact, if your website is already mobile-responsive, you may not even notice any changes. Plus, it would be bad for business if Google implemented this change immediately and their search results went haywire. So they’re rolling it out slowly to websites that they know won’t see any huge changes first, then will continue releasing it until it is universal.

Take advantage of this slow rollout to prepare for any impact your website could potentially see, and go through all of the above steps to prepare. Ready to go mobile-friendly? Request an assessment for your website today!



Here’s Why Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Should Be Multi-Faceted

Inbound marketing strategyTech-savvy enterprises know that customers drive website design. How customers interact with the website, how they arrive, how they navigate, what they search for, the time they spend on a landing page, and if that page converts, all help to determine how the website is laid out. It’s the same with your inbound marketing strategy. Your customers drive that strategy and it’s essential that your company not get stuck with outdated concepts and redundant approaches that don’t service the needs of your customers. 

You must use more than one inbound marketing strategy. Paid traffic by itself doesn’t work. Organic traffic by itself doesn’t work. You need a multi-faceted approach that’s focused on who your buyer personas are, how they make decisions, and how they move from interested prospect to brand evangelist. 

The internet is constantly changing as are the ways in which consumers use it. We are in a world where mobile searches are increasing at lightning speed and leaving conventional laptop searches far behind. Your digital strategies must be able to respond in kind and they must be able to reach customers in real-time. 

Commit Yourself to Understanding Your Audience

Defining your buyer personas is never a one-time event. Their likes and dislikes are always in flux. What they use as online resources, how they make decisions, and how they interact with each other online is constantly changing. Brand-loyal customers aren’t guaranteed to stay if your competition is always upping the ante in their digital marketing strategies. Customers want companies that are engaged and involved. They value partnerships and adhere to brands with a like-minded message, one that resonates with them personally. A single inbound strategy can’t build your brand.  

Your marketing and sales team have to continually interact with your audience. This means increasing customer engagement within your digital funnel. Having a static inbound marketing strategy doesn’t cut it. Understanding your buyer personas means knowing how and when to review what makes them tick. Keeping abreast of who your buyer personas are can help to align your digital strategies while ensuring each of your digital channels are optimized.  

Identifying Marketing Goals and Objectives

Yes, you want more revenue. Yes, you want more customers. These are given. However, how you get more revenue and more customers through your digital strategies must be planned in advance. Your marketing goals and objectives should be intrinsically tied to your organization’s goals. While you may want to win more customers and generate more sales, not defining the role your digital strategies will play in achieving these goals is a recipe for disaster.

Be sure to outline your marketing goals. It can be as simple as stating that you want to increase paid traffic by 25%, organic traffic by 30%, and click-through-rates (CTR) on calls-to-action (CTAs) for each landing page by 10%. You can then outline other goals like increasing customer retention by 5% over a given quarter or year. Defining your marketing goals will make upgrading your inbound marketing strategy a much easier pursuit. 

Look to the Past

A good strategy is to use historical indicators to define your future actions. You can start by reviewing past marketing campaigns and defining what the increase in traffic meant to your business. Did you increase traffic but not see an increase in CTR and conversions? Better yet, do you know what your costs per conversion were on each of your previous campaigns and how that compares with the industry average? Understanding the costs and returns of previous campaigns will help you narrow down what must change moving forward. It does no good to drive more traffic to your website if that traffic isn’t made up of your target audience. 

Inbound marketing strategy

Evaluate Performance of Existing Strategies and Identify Your Gap

Let’s assume you’re not a company with a single inbound marketing strategy. You’re leveraging several. How are they doing? Are you able to attain your marketing goals with the digital strategies you have in place? Do you need to revamp them for different buyer personas or do you have to add to them with new approaches? Evaluating the performance of your existing strategies is key to identifying your digital marketing gap. 

It may simply be a matter of increasing touchpoints along your buyer’s journey by providing after-sales email marketing campaigns and newsletters highlighting new offers, new products or auxiliary support products. You might decide to use retarget marketing to capture interrupted online searches. You might decide to rethink your content marketing strategy, put together a plan to proactively manage your online reputation, or come up with a more aggressive and time-sensitive social media strategy

Companies nowadays are investing in their own apps and are even venturing into the world of virtual reality (VR) advertising. You may have a customer base that’s starting to veer towards visual platforms like Snapchat or Instagram. Other times it’s merely a question of leveraging well-established social platforms like using Facebook Messenger for Business. In the end, it’s about understanding your buyer personas and identifying the tools you need to reach them. 

A Systematic Approach

By no means are we implying that creating and managing an inbound marketing strategy is easy. It isn’t. It’s not something you put on autopilot. It’s about having multiple coordinated strategies that help you generate high-quality leads and proactive approaches that help you nurture those leads with engaging content and incentivizing offers. 

Outline who your buyer personas are and define periods of review to identify how they’ve changed. Define your marketing goals and agree upon key performance indicators (KPI) that help you stay on track. Define the strength of your digital strategies and decide whether an upgrade or change in direction is required. Next, identify the gap in your inbound marketing strategy and itemize new digital marketing strategies that will help you convert more leads. Pursue those strategies, measure your performance and adjust your plan if you’re not meeting your marketing goals. 

For some companies, coming up with a digital strategy is easy. It’s the follow-through that becomes problematic. Our approach is to create a seamless digital strategy that works for your business, meets the needs of your market and one that is structured around the tools and online resources your buyer personas rely on. The goal is to generate and nurture leads so your business is the first one customers look to. 

If you’re looking for that all-important partner to help you develop a better inbound marketing strategy, then contact Connection Model and request an assessment.


Should Your Digital Marketing Include Guerrilla Marketing?

Digital marketingYou’ve likely heard of guerrilla warfare, the attack strategy formed on the basis of “the element of surprise,” and used heavily by the Patriots in the American Revolution. But we’re not here to give you a history lesson. Instead, we want to have a little chat about guerrilla marketing, a form of inbound marketing whose name was derived from the surprise war tactic.

Now we’re sure you’re wondering: what on earth do marketing and warfare have to do with each other?

Well, admittedly, not much. But the element of surprise can work in mysterious ways.

Although inbound marketing is more about seamlessly integrating marketing and advertising messages into platforms and programs people are already using, guerrilla marketing takes this a step further. 

Guerrilla marketing is about putting your business in front of people while they’re doing things they were already doing, but in a big way. Rather than a quick Facebook post or a Twitter ad campaign, you’re doing something big. You’re going above and beyond to really put your business out there. You’re getting in people’s faces.

But, like, in a subtle way. Real world use of guerilla marketing is creative and eye-catching. For instance…

Duracell Batteries created a guerrilla marketing campaign where they put branded flashlights on all sorts of light-up objects around town, making it look like Duracell was powering them. Clever, noticeable, but also subtle.

Frontline blew up a photo of a dog to use as the floor of a mall, knowing people walking around the upper levels would see it. And at first glance, the image really does look like a dog covered in bugs.

How can a candy company make creative use of an ad on a bench? Well, if you’re Nestle, you paint it like an opened Kit Kat wrapper that reveals a delicious chocolate bar! What a perfect way to create a craving for candy in anyone walking or driving past.

These are just a few clever examples of guerrilla marketing that businesses put out into their surroundings.

But how do you translate campaigns like this into digital marketing? 

Although guerrilla marketing and digital marketing are very different, the two can also work together extremely well. Here are three examples of how you can do this.

1. Real world integrated with digital.

First of all, you can create a real world guerrilla marketing campaign to do locally or near your business’s headquarters, followed by a digital aspect of the campaign. Integrating the two works well to involve both locals and members of your audience that may live in other areas.

You can live stream the location of your guerrilla marketing tactic on Facebook so your audience can see how passersby reacted. You can encourage user-generated content surrounding your guerrilla marketing campaign (i.e., asking people to share it online with your campaign’s branded hashtag). You can ask people to check in on Facebook or create a geo-filter on Snapchat to help increase awareness of your campaign.

2. Create an online money-making campaign.

One thing to keep in mind about guerrilla marketing is that it is not at all customer-centric. It’s 100% business-centric and coming up with a fun and entertaining way to put your business in someone’s face and get people talking about your brand.

And it’s totally possible to do this with a digital campaign. Try creating a one-off product surrounding a social issue, a holiday, or something totally random and made up. Think outside the box on days and seasons that other companies are coloring in the lines.

One company that is great at coming up with crazy ideas like this is Cards Against Humanity. Of course not every business will be able to emulate the campaigns that this brash card game company has, but it’s a great start to get the wheels turning. 

On Black Friday a couple of years ago, a time when most businesses are offering products at huge discounts, CAH decided to open up a donation landing page on their website. The catch? They would dig a hole, and keep digging as long as people kept donating on that page. At the end of the day, they raked in a cool $100K, just to dig a hole. The company is no stranger to Black Friday jokes, either, even jacking up their prices one year to make a joke of the mega sales holiday.

3. Dress up your entire online presence.

Guerrilla marketing is about doing something unexpected, and completely dressing up your online presence is one way to attract attention. If you’re celebrating a business milestone, event, or launch, or wanting to simply make an impression, think of a way you could switch up your website and social media branding to really grab eyes.

Perhaps you change every profile photo to black and switch up the main colors on your website so it looks blacked out. Maybe you change it to purple, or gold. Maybe you add an element of your new product or launch. Making a huge change like that all at once is a guaranteed way to get people talking about what’s going to be coming. 

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Guerrilla marketing can be difficult to implement, but when done correctly it can have people talking about your business and your campaign for years to come. Does it have a place in digital marketing? Sure, if you have the time and resources to see your campaign through. Some methods can be more costly than others, but the point of guerrilla marketing is to get big results. Many businesses have even bet their entire company on a single guerrilla marketing campaign.

One thing to remember is that guerrilla marketing is not typically an ongoing strategy the way digital marketing is. You have a timeline for your campaign, and during that time you need to have all hands on deck. If your business is in the position to try something new, maybe you should consider what a guerrilla marketing campaign would look like for you. Ready to get your brainstorm on? Contact us to see how we can help your business.


What I love about Drift Email for Marketing

Hey! It’s David Carpenter, and I just wanted to share a little about Drift Email for Marketing —  the FIRST conversational email marketing platform and it will help you and your team build a seamless buying experience for your customers. Three things I love explained in this quick 1-minute video:

To check it out, head over to

Making Informed Business Decisions: How to Simplify the Process

Marketing-Data-and-Analytics-Best-Practices-3Are you one of those businesses that’s constantly putting out one fire after another? Do you find that you’re always in catch-up mode and reactive instead of proactive? More importantly, does it sometimes feel as if your decisions can only be made one day at a time? If so, then this is a must read. Making informed business decisions comes from having an inbound marketing strategy that continually provides you with invaluable customer data. 

Making better business decisions nowadays need not be complicated. It’s not based on guesswork, assumptions or your gut feel. Instead, it’s based on a business intelligence gathering strategy that operates in real-time. It comes from enriching both your internal data and the data emerging from your inbound marketing strategy. Here’s how you get started.  

#1) Eliminate Data Silos

Eliminate data silos where internal departments are guided by personal objectives and interpretations instead of cold hard facts. Ditch the Excel spreadsheets. Funnel all customer and marketing decisions through one integrated process. Review that process and data weekly, monthly or quarterly. Make sure everyone is on the same page and interpreting the same data so that the decisions your company makes are based upon factual assertions – not assumptions.  

#2) Adopt Data Enrichment 

You can’t rely on one data source. You need multiple data sources. That means you must have a data enrichment strategy that allows you to marry your internal customer data with the data emerging from your inbound marketing strategy. Data enrichment allows you to improve both the quality of your data and your data gathering approaches. Identifying which data matters means you’re able to focus on the digital strategies that provide the best returns. 

#3) Track Customer Interactions and Identify Lead Generation

Establish key performance indicators (KPI) for all business development and customer-facing personnel. Use that business intelligence to define your best lead generation strategies, the ones that lead to sales. It’s not enough just to secure leads. You want to know which strategies generate the best leads and which leads become actual customers. The more you scrutinize the results of your inbound marketing strategy, the stronger your future results. 

Website competitive analysis

#4) Personalize Your Marketing Message

Your customer data allows you to personalize your marketing message. It helps you round out your buyer personas and make sense of how customers make decisions. Don’t ignore what that data is telling you. Drill down. Understand what your customers are saying in real-time. This means interpreting the results of email marketing campaigns, digital advertisements, reviewing your website’s analytics and understanding how different content affects different customers. 

#5) Expand Your Data Sources

Complement your internal and external data with research. A simple website competitive analysis will allow you to better understand how your competitors reach customers. Are they adopting strategies you’ve ignored or are unaware of? How is their website laid out? Can you learn anything from how they’ve structured their landing pages? A website competitive analysis isn’t about emulating your competitors. It’s ultimately about understanding what’s working and why. 

Your company has too much intelligence at its fingertips. You don’t need to go it alone. You can improve the quality of your data and use those improvements to further increase the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategies. 

If you want to understand how your customer data can help you make more informed business decisions, contact us. We’ll be happy to work with you to find the best solutions for your needs.


Top Digital Investments to Make in 2018

Digital marketingIncreasing customer engagement is about complementing existing digital strategies with new approaches so that you have a complete inbound marketing strategy that gets customers to act. However, this doesn’t mean that all strategies work for all customers. Increasing touch-points within your digital funnel comes down to choosing digital investments that work and interact with your audience. Here is a list of some of the top digital investments to make in 2018. 

Marketing Automation

Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of assuming that marketing automation will solve all your marketing problems. It’s not a “plug-and-play” solution and is most definitely not a “set-it-and-forget-it” tool. It takes time to make marketing automation work. You must invest the resources. Far too many companies invest in a software and immediately go out and buy email lists under the assumption that their system is so automated it will do the rest. It won’t.

Marketing automation works when you make it work. Your software should match the tactics and strategies you employ, which in turn should match your buyer personas. The ultimate goal with marketing automation is to have a software solution that seamlessly integrates with your digital funnel. Delivering customized content at predetermined touch-points helps to keep customers engaged and interested. That happens when you thoroughly understand your buyer personas, have an in-depth understanding of their buyer journey and have invested the time to make the software work. 

Chatbots or Live Chat?

Long thought of as just a customer service platform, chatbots and live chat have morphed into lead generation tools. However, while live chat requires live support and supervision due to its reliance on customer service representatives, chatbots are automated software solutions that are less expensive, run 24/7 and can handle multiple inquiries at once. This makes them a stronger solution than live chat because so much of live chat is sequential and time consuming. With live chat, a customer service representative must manually move prospects from one possible solution to the next. Chatbots do these tasks instantaneously. Customers want fast answers and chatbots give them those answers. With the right approach, your chatbot can guide prospects to specific areas of your website and cut down on response times. This solution has become so popular that up to 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) 

AR was one of Gartner’s top predictions of 2017 with an estimated 100 million consumers shopping in augmented reality by 2020. Now, does this mean your company should investigate AR or even VR reality platforms and software? It depends. If you’re a retailer or eCommerce company servicing everyday consumers, then investigating these solutions may make sense. If your customer demographic is Generation Z, which is those consumers born between 1995 and 2012, or if your buyer personas are into gaming consoles, then VR might be an attractive solution. Ultimately, it comes down to your audience. Will either of these solutions reach your buyer personas and can you leverage them for business growth? 

Mobile Apps and Messenger

With upwards of 23% of users abandoning apps after just one use, many companies are left wondering whether apps have any future. While businesses may be disillusioned with the performance of their apps, it doesn’t mean that we’re experiencing a mobile engagement crisis. There are multiple reasons why an app doesn’t resonate with consumers. Issues such as loading time, poor design, tendency to crash, and having no “wow” factor, are all reasons why customers may not adopt your app. 

Don’t give up on apps just yet. However, if you’ve tried your own apps, and failed to connect with your audience, then perhaps migrating to Facebook Messenger Ads is a viable solution. In fact, Facebook has launched Instagram click to Messenger ads, and since Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012, many advertisers see this as a great way to leverage Facebook’s 1 billion-plus members along with Instagram’s 800 million members. Both social media platforms focus on eye-catching imagery and rich media videos. This may just be a solution for your company and it could give you a chance to visually promote your offering to a larger audience.   

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Content Marketing

No, this isn’t just about recommitting yourself to blogging, or pumping out more content on social media or even altering your content marketing strategy with guest posts on other forums and websites. It’s not about link-building either. It’s about making an honest assessment by asking yourself whether you’re enacting the right approach. Your goal for 2018 should be to make sure that content marketing is an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy. Here are some things to focus on and questions to answer. 

1. Does your content strategy reintroduce customers back into your digital funnel?

Content marketing isn’t just about generating interest on the top-end of your funnel. It’s about increasing engagement and improving the customer’s experience. Marketing automation might help you align the strategy once you’ve outlined it, but you need to define all the touch-points for your customers and have a marketing strategy that engages them at every step. 

2. Do you have a complete content strategy that uses multiple mediums? 

Content today includes rich media videos, vivid imagery, whitepapers, case-studies, info-graphics, podcasts and webcasts. All of this is incorporated within a content strategy that employs proactive search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. In fact, AR and VR are part of the content landscape now and new voice-based search platforms like Apple’s Airpods and Google Home are ushering a new age for internet searches. How you approach your content strategy begins and ends with whom you’re targeting. A digital marketing company may be able to help you redefine which content is best for your customers. 

3. Does your content embrace your brand?

Customers help define your brand online by how engaged they are. The best companies track their online reputation and proactively address customer issues. However, none of that works unless your team is always realigning its content strategy to a changing marketplace. This means you need to approach it with a fluid mindset and not treat your content strategy as a static, one-time event. Revisit past content pieces. Keep abreast of emerging trends and always assess your content’s performance. 

Making an investment decision concerning digital marketing is never easy. There are a great number of companies who’ve pursued strategies and invested capital only to find the approach wasn’t geared to their audience. Don’t make that same mistake. Do your research and invest the time.

If you need a digital marketing company to help you define your audience and choose an investment that makes sense for your business, then contact us now and request an assessment.