TechSpread: Staying Ahead of the Curve

Submitted by Mary Shafer on Thu, 10/31/2019 - 11:14

As with every successful small business, Resonetrics is evolving with its marketplace. We have always specialized in helping small to midsize businesses leverage the power of new technology in their marketing. Now, with the spread of technology throughout the business world, we find ourselves moving toward a more solid niche, with a slightly different focus.

Forging A New Path
One of the influences on this focus is the fact that we’ve been working with larger organizations. We believe this is due to the fact that larger, enterprise-level clients are catching up to the need for a deep, rich and highly interactive online presence in today’s fast-paced world. 

There have only been just so many of us out here, staying ahead of the curve in testing, evaluating and implementing new technologies for these companies’ marketing staffs. We believe our results have gotten the attention of these larger clients, and they have been reaching out to us here at Resonetrics. They seek help in moving forward into the new age of “Web-as-central-hub,” rather than as an afterthought or adjunct to traditional marketing with print and broadcast promotion. 

With this evolving marketplace, we now find ourselves again out in front, sharpening our service focus as the needs of our clients change. They have discovered that not only does the Web serve best as the hub for the many spokes on their marketing wheel, but also that—with the proper back end—their websites can and must integrate well with other enterprise functions such as administration, recordkeeping and internal communications. 

They’ve also come to embrace the idea that good marketing aims at two audiences: external consumers and internal stakeholders, including employees and management. The work we do has morphed to accommodate this reality, which has frankly always been the case. We're just glad this level of client is finally realizing it. It helps us help them far more effectively.

Technological Darwinism
To ignore the power of this integration—because it can be difficult to implement—has been the standard for many, if not most, businesses until now. But at this point in the growing sophistication of the consumer marketplace, it is simply not an option for those who want to remain in business. As in the natural world, those who can't or won't evolve do so at their own peril. 

But the reality of how quickly and completely technological evolution plays out can strain even the most well-organized and resourced businesses and groups. Their main challenge these days isn’t getting their websites launched and functional, though that remains a significant effort. 

The real obstacle is finding a way to task existing employees with maintaining the freshness of their site’s content once it’s launched. Without constantly refreshed content, websites plummet rapidly in search engine ratings, and give visitors little reason to return. This dwindling engagement shows up directly on the bottom line. The emergence of tools to accurately and reliably track such changes is one of the factors driving the evolution we've described so far.

Implementation Is Key
Up till now, typically the corporate website has been an afterthought in the priorities and schedules of already harried marketing departments. Staff who have been trained mainly in the daily activities traditionally associated with their service or product specialties found themselves pressed into service as digital content managers and/or social media managers. But as more and more businesses, institutions and organizations realize the power and immediacy of websites as a 24/7 information bank and sales representative, they recognize that they must allocate dedicated resources to keep their sites viable. 

They have begun tasking people to manage this constant flow of content. This means employers have their hands full, trying to deal with some inevitable resistance by those being pushed out of their comfort zones, into tasks that likely didn't even exist when their original job descriptions were written. Other departments, perhaps longer in the game and more experienced, are creating new job titles and descriptions in recognition that the Internet has proven not to be a fad but likely the most powerful marketing and operations tools ever invented.

Either way, there is a ramp-up to developing acceptance by all staff involved, and that’s a cultural issue. Here at Resonetrics, we certainly find ourselves dealing with it on a close basis. While we don’t get directly involved with the development of staff and new attitudes toward technology in the workplace, it does affect our work. We help these clients with both new technology acceptance, and with identifying and implementing solutions to the very real and immediate technological challenges of this situation.

Next Time: The Internet Evolves
 

Resonetrics: A Friendly Tugboat to Guide Your Ship to Open Horizons

Submitted by Mary Shafer on Thu, 10/03/2019 - 18:48

Last time, we discussed the rise of the Content Management System (CMS) as a tool to allow businesses to retain control of and access to their own websites on a timely basis. This post will describe how we are responding to this evolution in creating and maintaining a professional, useful online presence.

Enter Resonetrics
At Resonetrics, our challenge is to empower our clients not just to produce, but to regularly—and with as little effort and as few resources as possible—publish their own online content at a professional level. It has become part of our job to help them take ownership of their corporate voice in the world’s busiest and most densely packed information pool. And that’s the new era we’re kicking off with this post.

In concrete terms, what does this actually mean?
First, we take stock of the specific problem to be solved. We’ve thought a lot about it, and based on our experience, we think it comes down to three basic issues:

  1. Content organization & preparation – If it’s being done right, every organization’s website content consists of material provided from across the breadth of their expertise and knowledge. This means a variety of voices, language usage, tonal approaches, visual design and image types are being submitted by various contributors from all departments and sectors of the organization. It’s critical that this disparate content is well-edited and organized to shape it into a cohesive, single brand voice for the client. This is a skill set unto itself. Not everyone has it, but everyone can learn enough to ultimately execute at a higher level.
  2. User interface design – Regardless which CMS people use, unless they are dedicated content managers, they are usually administrative professionals primarily responsible for other activities more traditional to their jobs. This means that website content updates are basically just another load on their plate, which needs to get done at whatever frequency is called for. If their experience with the CMS they’re required to use is difficult, stressful and unrewarding, they will reject it. If you notice a strong resistance to this task in your organization, we’re probably talking about you. Part of our job is to identify the collective wisdom already accumulated to date around this issue, and leverage it to prescribe specific strategies to successfully deal with your particular situation. We do that both in individual consults and here on our blog, as appropriate.
  3. Corporate culture – All the best editing and technology design in the world cannot overcome a bad attitude, from organization management to the content manager. We may all indulge in a joke now and then about how fast the world is moving, but the reality is that technology acceptance is no longer solely the realm of the resident geeks and nerds. It’s imperative that everyone involved in dissemination of marketing content get on board and, if not actually embrace the new way of doing things, then at least accept and not resist it.

Tools Change, But The Mission Remains
A hundred years ago, wagon builders and harness makers, blacksmiths and wheelwrights all thought they were in the business of manufacturing their little piece of the huge horse-drawn conveyance pie. But then along came the automobile, and they had to decide if they were in their specialty business, or if they were in the larger transportation field. 

Those who decided the former either retired, took their former trade into hobby status, or ended up going out of business altogether. Those who recognized the larger picture stayed in business and thrived in their new part of it. That's why, for the longest time, Fisher Bodyworks still used a carriage as its trademark, paying homage to its humble beginnings. Massive brands such as General Motors carried that logo on their vehicles well into the 1970s.

But rest assured, GM continued to modernize until, along with other American car makers, it held on too long to the old manufacturing models. It was beaten out of its top spot by foreign car makers who weren't invested in history, but in the future. Those victors still lead auto makers today, while the “Big Three” American companies—who pioneered modern vehicle manufacturing processes—continue to struggle to find their place in the highly robotic, overwhelmingly technologized global industry.

Get Proactive or Perish
It’s the same now for every modern organization, whether commercial, financial, institutional or nonprofit: Master the technology, or it will surely master you. 

At Resonetrics, we’re embracing technology and staying out ahead of it, so our clients can concentrate on what they do best. They trust us to thoroughly grasp its implications and lead with this bold vision, so they can feel confident in the direction we’re helping them move. 

In return, we ask only that they respond with open minds and a willingness to try new tools that will smooth the path ahead for us all.

In future posts, we’ll be diving deep to address myriad facets of the three issues listed above, as they relate to discovering, formulating and helping you implement best practices in these areas. We invite you to forge ahead with us into a future that may not look a whole lot like the past, but whose promise is great. 

We need only remember that however uncomfortable it may be to venture out of our comfort zones, a ship is safe at harbor…but that’s not what ships are for.
 

CMS Platforms: Customers Take Back Their Sites

Submitted by Mary Shafer on Thu, 10/03/2019 - 16:59

In our last post, we discussed how the rapidly increasing adoption of workplace technology and the Internet’s integration with marketing and daily operations has been driving a change in our focus as consultants.

This time, we’re taking a look at exactly how that evolution has taken place, and what it means for our clients and the larger marketplace.

Internet Leaves Adolescence Behind

Typical “generation one” or “Gen1” websites, built sometimes manually or with steep-learning-curve software, dominated the Internet for at least its first popular decade. It’s safe to say that the majority of these sites have likely seen several iterations since they were first created. 

Usually, this has consisted of improvements to their front end appearance and underlying code—whether that was straight HTML or a hybrid HTML/SQL or some similar mashup. For many years, this was accomplished using similar tools to those used on original site builds. But pushback from clients who demand 24/7, responsive control over their websites has, in the past few years, triggered complete redesigns and builds using the far more accessible platform of a content management system or CMS. Think WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.

These CMSes were developed in response to the clamor for at least reasonably easy-to-update websites, using inhouse resources. It’s an understandable desire: No one wants to be at the mercy of an outsourced provider’s availability, especially when needed changes are urgent…which they can frequently be. 

Website owners also want greater control over costs, which can be on the high side when having agencies or other high-skill providers making their changes. It’s better to be able to pay once for the higher-skill structural, design and navigation elements up front, then hire lower-cost content managers to maintain the sites.

Content Management Platforms To The Rescue
CMS platforms have fulfilled that need, to a great extent. However, as their name implies, what site owners can change easily with these tools is basically content, nothing truly structural that would require knowledge of coding.

Though content—and not the container framework—is primarily what clients need to be able to change, the operational phrase here is “reasonably easy to use.” As web developers and coders ourselves, we recognize that learning even the skills needed for relatively low-level content management is—if we’re brutally honest—not always that easy. This is especially true for people who lean toward technophobia, or are simply overwhelmed with all their regular duties. 

Yes, using a CMS is far better than having to learn to troubleshoot clunky HTML code, or to be handcuffed to an expensive, proprietary development tool, which were the only real options before. Still, learning to take advantage of the full power a good CMS puts in their hands is rarely an activity those responsible would describe as enjoyable or even easy. 

Though once learned it becomes fairly routine, there is a not-insignificant learning curve to any but the simplest text updates, especially if it’s not an everyday activity that keeps you in practice. This is the reality that keeps CMS platforms from being a true panacea for those responsible for maintaining their Web content with non-technical personnel.

Next Time: How we’re helping our clients evolve, too.

Why you need a content marketing strategist

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 08/25/2017 - 22:13

Hat tip to my colleague Jeff Couret, for the pointer to this informative Moz article on how to identify low-quality content on your site:
https://moz.com/blog/low-quality-pages

I've been in discussions with a startup client about how important it is to have a content strategy, and how much value we could get from a content strategist.
Of course, everyone thinks they're a great writer - just as everyone has a nephew who could build our corporate web site; so why do we need a professional to sort out our content? Can't we just write about our product and trust Google to pick up our articles and blog posts?

If you think that, ask yourself if you understand what bounce rate tells you about the content quality of a page (hint: a high bounce rate isn't necessarily bad). And do you know what pogo-sticking is, and what is says about your content quality?

A content strategist will monitor and improve your offerings to site visitors in a way that gets you SEO credit for your great writing, and satisfies your users. And that makes Google very happy.
 

The Register: Comcast promises not to sell your data.

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sat, 04/01/2017 - 11:27

In other news, your check is in the mail.

 

Comcast says its customers shouldn't worry about having their browsing histories or personal information sold off by Comcast, because the cable giant doesn't have any immediate plans to do so. And if they do decide to change that policy, customers should rely on the state governments to stand up to a company that writes its own laws in many places.

In short, Comcast may be able to sell out its customers now, but customers should trust them not to.

And who can you trust, if not the company that once changed a customer's name to "Asshole Brown" out of spite?



https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/31/comcast_we_will_never_sell_your_data/

The Register: Now your dishwasher's web server is vulnerable to attack.

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 03/31/2017 - 15:09

In other news, your dishwasher may have a web server in it.
Maybe Kelly Conway wasn't so far wrong after all? (Nah, she probably still was).

Can't wait to see what some script kiddie decides to tell our kitchen appliances to do.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/26/miele_joins_internetofst_hall_of_shame/

HTTPS Everywhere: Deep Dive Into Making the Switch

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 03/06/2017 - 21:00

HTTPS image

Not only are some browsers now throwing flares when forms are presented without encryption, but Google is starting to notice as well.
Bottom line - it's time to get a cert and make your site work over encrypted connections.

Here's a detailed article that will take you through the steps required to get HTTPS working on your site(s).

https://www.lullabot.com/articles/https-everywhere-deep-dive-into-making-the-switch

 

Industry-specific pages debut on Drupal.org

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 03/06/2017 - 15:59

Did you know 73% of the top 30 media companies use Drupal? Neither did I.

Drupal.org has 3 new industry-specific pages, offering case studies and talking points, like the one above, for prospective site builders who are considering Drupal.

The three market verticals are Higher Ed, Media/Publishing, and Government.

Having worked in all 3, I can attest there's lots of opportunity there. Hopefully these new pages will help get the word out.

 

https://www.drupal.org/association/blog/drupalorg-industry-pages-are-live

Signal v. Noise: Persistence is undervalued

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 01/23/2017 - 21:11

People undervalue persistence. You’ve been told since you were a kid stories of trains getting up mountains with the power of persistence. Get up. Try again. And again. It feels like the most cliche advice there ever was: I think I can.

But still, we underestimate how beneficial that extra effort becomes.

https://m.signalvnoise.com/persistence-is-undervalued-d1f5a5a5fda2#.qzc8k0hyg