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The Digital Divide Brings Us Together

Date Posted: November 26, 2014 by


Unknown-2Hey everyone! Your friendly neighborhood intern here! Whether you participate in the festivities of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Ramadan, Pagan traditions, or the Festivus for the Rest of Us, there is one thing bringing us together this holiday season, and no, it’s not time spent with family and friends, candlelight vigils, holiday cheer, dreidel songs, or chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Regardless of what we were led to believe as children, the one thing everyone will be doing this season is online shopping.

Originally coined in 2005, Cyber Monday is the first Monday after Thanksgiving, where people go online and score Black Friday savings from the comfort of their own home, and online retail sales are substantially increasing every year. Just between 2012 and 2013, overall sales numbers jumped 20.6%, and mobile itself growing over 55%. That number is expected to jump yet again in 2014, with the surging popularity of mobile sales. Mobile in 2013 grew 45% from 2012 to encompass nearly a third of online traffic, and it can be expected to make another huge jump for 2014.

Here are a few more game changing trends to build your holiday marketing plan around:

-Mobile Takeover: Holiday sales on smartphones and tablets in 2013 jumped 35% from 2012, and three-fold from 2011.

-Constant Connection: The amount of time the average person is connected to the Internet everyday is up about 2½ hours from 2010, to 5 hours and 46 minutes. In addition, the average person in 2013 spent roughly 15% longer making mobile purchasing decisions than the year before.

-Recovery Spending: Since the period of economic recovery began in 2010, sales have seen steady year-to-year increase (from 681 to 783 billion dollars) despite in-store traffic plunging over 50%.

So whether it’s to avoid long lines, score better deals, or a general affliction to people, just remember that any one person who decides to stay in and shop this holiday season will be among the millions harboring the tradition shopping online.

Restaurant SEO

Date Posted: November 19, 2014 by


Running a restaurant is difficult. You have to worry about customer service, ordering ingredients, payroll, taxes, benefits and…oh yea… you have to make great food. While your plate is already full (no pun intended) (I laughed) the last thing that you want to worry about is marketing. Unfortunately, having great food just doesn’t cut it (pun); marketing is a necessary evil.

While there are many different ways to market your site, Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short) is one that is so important, but often overlooked. According to Wikipedia, SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.” SEO is an online marketing tool to ensure that your website shows up toward the top of Google (and other search engines) when a potential customer searches for a keyword that is relevant to your business. There are several steps in the process and I’ll outline the major ones in this article. We’ll dive deeper once you are comfortable with the basic concepts.

Keyword Research

Ranking #1 in Google for just anything isn’t good enough. For example, if you are a sushi spot in Philadelphia, you probably don’t want to rank #1 for “best lasagna in Philly.” You want to rank for terms like “sushi restaurant,” “best miso soup” or even “best sake in Philly.”To start, you would develop a list of 20-25 keywords that are important to your business and divide them into ad groups. (Maybe explain this concept) If you did this in Excel, your spreadsheet may look something like this:

Sake

 

 

 

 

 

Figure out different groupings of terms that make sense for your business and bulk up each grouping with individual terms. You can use Google’s keyword tool to do this as well.

Landing Pages

Once you have developed and grouped a list of keywords, you’ll want to target these terms to a landing page. Think of a landing page as a page on your site that speaks to a different keyword grouping. Sticking with the sushi example, you’ll want to have a page on your site that discusses your sushi roll offerings.Try to include images of each dish along with explanations about what each one is. You may even want to incorporate video to show how your master sushi chefs prepare each roll.

By making this page as comprehensive as possible, you’ll send a strong signal to the search engines as to what this particular page is about. Coupled with some more of the best SEO practices, you’ll begin increasing your website’s ranking potential and drive more visitors to your restaurant.

Content

Content is the gas that fuels any SEO campaign. By including your targeted keywords within the content of your sites, you’ll increase your ranking potential. The best place to do this is the menu. Want to rank for “Philadelphia sushi roll?” Make sure you have a corresponding HTML menu on your site. Also, be sure to include prices for transparency.

One important place to add content is your homepage. Typically, the homepage has the most SEO value and the highest ranking potential. You can leverage this power by including a few paragraphs about what your site is about. Here is where you would mention the most relevant keywords If you owned an Italian restaurant, you would mention the signature dishes along with the address. You would also add in images attractive dishes along with important restaurant staff

A great way to create even more site content (and also introduce other keywords) is on a blog. Many restaurants are utilizing the power of their blog to engage with customers and provide updates about food or service. You may want to speak about a New Year’s Eve special, or run a contest. A blog would be the perfect outlet.

Technical

Google works by sending “crawlers” out to different sites. These crawlers find content and bring it back to the servers. Within the server, Google uses an algorithm to parse the data and rank websites accordingly. Having killer content is great, but it won’t help if the search engines can’t find it. So, how can you make sure that Google can find your content?

The first thing that you should do is avoid sites that use a lot of Flash technology. While beautiful, these sites can sometimes serve as dead ends for the search engines. You should also make sure that you are not restricting access to your site within the robots.txt file. If you are using a WordPress template that you downloaded, or your site was designed by a friend, you should be fine, but missing the mark here can really limit your site’s SEO potential.

Also, be sure that all of your site’s links are working. Simply click through the site to make sure nothing is broken or use this tool to make life easier.

Social Media

Gone are the days when it was just kids on Twitter talking about what they had for breakfast. Your potential clients are here and they are looking for recommendations on the next best thing. Check out this tweet:
Tweet

 
What if your restaurant were to reach out and tweet something like “hey, we have some great sushi! We are also a Zagat rated restaurant (if that was true.)” I know that I’d feel extra special if a restaurant reached out to ask me that. Shoot, I would probably actually give it a shot.

This isn’t just limited to Twitter. Check out Instagram, Facebook and even Pinterest. Wherever your customers are hanging out, you’ll want to set up shop. Just don’t be creepy.  Aim to help people, even if you don’t always recommend your food.

Email Marketing

With a newsletter sign up form, you’ll be able to collect email addresses of people who opt in to hear about your stuff. Once a week, send out a newsletter with some pics of your best dishes. Send it out a little before lunch so people are nice and hungry. Maybe run a promotion for your most loyal customers so that they can enjoy a special or even discounted meal.

I recommend MailChimp and it’s 100% free up to 2,000 emails per month.

Link and Citation Building

Everything that I listed above can be easily done by a savvy webmaster.  If your strategy is easy, anyone can do it. If anyone can do it, it’s not a competitive advantage. One competitive advantage is link and citation building.

A link is a clickable reference from one site to another. In the eyes of the search engines, it is seen as a vote of confidence from one site to another. If my site has more quality “votes” than your site, my site will rank better for the keywords that we share (assuming everything else is the same.)

You should definitely start with citation building, and a popular destination is Google Places. While Yelp is also just as viable, Places is a Google owned property, and I think that they would show that a little more love. Run a search for your brand name in Google and see what comes up. You will probably see that someone, somewhere has created this for you already. You will see something like this:
Location

 
Click ‘Manage this page’ and Google will walk you through step-by-step. The steps are really straightforward. If you claim this location by phone, it takes about 20 seconds.

Link building, on another hand, is a different animal. It involves outreaching to different websites to convince them to link to you. Take a look at this site. Words
This article was written in 2013 and ranks on page one of Google for the term “best sushi restaurants in philly.” If I owned a sushi restaurant, I would reach out to this author and ask if they would be willing to do an updated 2014 version of this. I would even go as far as to offer them a free meal at my restaurant to prove that I deserve mention. If your food is dope, this would be a no brainer.

Reputation Management

Lastly, we move to dreaded reputation management. You may be the new managemer of a restaurant that was run into the ground financially, or even one with a terrible PR mess on its hands. Or, you may have made your own mistake and you want to turn things around. The best place to turn in this case is Yelp.

First, make sure you have claimed your Yelp page. To do so, look up your business on Yelp and click this:Work_Here

While you can’t delete anything that has been written about your business, you do have the opportunity to engage with a disgruntled customer, and may be able to turn things around. Offer them a free meal to make a better impression. Maybe even just be human and apologize. We all make mistakes.

Also, encourage positive reviews. Once the customer pays the bill, add an insert to the receipt that says something like “Enjoy the meal? Share your experience with your friends on Yelp.” Enough great reviews will push negative reviews down and, before you know it, people can forget the past. Just be sure that you follow Yelp’s guidelines, you really don’t want to upset them.

Got any more questions? Want to let us handle some of the SEO for your restaurant? Feel free to reach out to us. We would love to help!

 

Appy Halloween!

Date Posted: October 29, 2014 by


Bubble, bubble, toil and tech-savvy.App_Halloween

As soon as temperatures begin to drop, we notice holiday decorations creeping into the aisles of stores, and await the release of seasonal-flavored everything. Pumpkin spice has become a staple of the leaves changing, from your coffee, to your soap, and even your chips. This progression plants the pumpkin seeds of sales into the back of consumer minds.

Total spending for Halloween in 2014 is projected at $11.3 billion – with the average household planning to spend about $125 on Halloween candy, costumes and decorations. What’s more than sales and spider webs is a relationship with brands that people look for to integrate into their holiday season.

The changing sales landscape has shifted toward the customer experience and integration via multiple touch points, such as a weekly e-newsletter or Facebook News Feeds posts. Customers are looking for ways to connect digitally, and more than ever, the key is creativity in reaching them in a relevant and meaningful way. A space where there is a lot of availability to do so are holiday apps. Here are some fun Halloween apps customers can make use of, from tracking your little ghost or goblin to zombifiying your pictures.

-The Walking Dead: Dead Yourself – Create a photo-realistic Walker zombie out of yourself, your friends, and even your feline with The Walking Dead props and features.

-Halloween! – Explore ringtones, wallpapers, costume ideas, trivia, a built-in countdown and flashlight for trick-or-treating.

-Pumpkin Pal – Get your pumpkin carving fix without all the mess and hand cramps.

-Halloween Party Sound Lite – Mischief can be managed with this app offering an array of screams and screeches, complete with a time delay for a hair-raising result.

-Trick Or Tracker – Use GPS functions to get text message updates of where your trick-or-treater is on their candy journey, with mapped locations.

How could your company engage customers with a meaningful experience? Let’s figure it out together!

 

Starting A Company Blog

Date Posted: October 28, 2014 by


You’ve been in business for quite some time.  You’ve gone through a few different website designs. You recently met a savvy web developer, and she was able to build you a beautiful website. Your coworkers love it, and you’ve shared it with friends and family. You may even be getting compliments from current clients and, if  you’re lucky, drawing traffic from search engines and other websites. But, there’s more. When the developer built the site, it also came with a shiny new blog. You may have heard that blogging is what all the kids are doing these days, but how is it relevant to your business, and how can leveraging the content posted there help your business grow? Good question!

While a company blog typically lives on the site’s root domain, it serves a different purpose.  Here are a few ways  to leverage your company blog for SEO purposes.

Opportunity to add new and fresh content to your site

Search engines love great content. Just ask this guy. By consistently adding content to the site, you’re not only proving that your site is consistently maintained, but that you are also taking your e-business seriously. In doing so, you’re also encouraging the search engines to visit the pages on your site more often. If your site has a significant amount of SEO, the engines will return to index your content more often than your competitors. By doing this, your site has the potential to rank higher for keywords that your competitors are also targeting. This will increase the potential for leads and sales.

Opportunity to introduce new keywords to target

Let’s say you are a psychologist in an American city. You’re ranking pretty well for the term “psychologist in [YOUR CITY]”   but you’re looking to attract more local clients. Check out what happens when I visit Google.com and I start typing “psychologist for…”
Google_Search-1

You already have some great content on your site, but if you want to find other ideas and different keywords to target, you can create a blog post about each of these topics. Over time (and as your site’s ranking potential  increases) you will increase organic traffic to the blog. As a bonus,  add a call to action at the end of each post and turn those readers into actual clients.

Position yourself as an industry leader

I’m the type of guy  who believes actions trump words. If someone tells me that they’re passionate about something, I expect consistent performance at a high level. For instance, if you’re a sneakerhead, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a sneaker blog, a podcast, or if you were a moderator on a few well known sneaker blogs.  Let’s say that  you’re an accountant, and you want to earn a client’s trust and business. A blog may be what separates your business from your competitors. Trust me, people research before making decisions. By  keeping a fresh perspective on industry trends  and a commitment to speaking about them, your potential clients will see you as an industry expert. Your competitors will even take notice.

Showcase talent on your team

While you started the business, there are plenty of people that work with you  to run it. And while you know it, the rest of the world may not know just how  smart your team really is. By providing your coworkers with a platform to express their thoughts, you’re showing that XYZ Company is  greater than one person. You know how the game works: a client signed on because they thought that you were going to work directly on their project. However, your schedule is so full with speaking engagements, other clients and running the actual business; you need a team member to pick up the slack. It’s a lot easier to  qualify a coworker’s capability to handle that account when they have been building their own brand on the blog. Imagine being able to say “Hey, client, you want to know how qualified so-and-so is, check out this informative  blog post about your industry. It got shared X times on Y blogs and even got shared by an industry leader.”

Link building

Links are clickable references from one site to another. By linking to a site, I am giving a vote of confidence. By getting enough “votes” on the web, you are increasing your website’s ranking potential, which will help drive traffic, leads and sales. If your content is stellar, other websites will want to reference you  for argument support. Let’s say that you are a food blogger, and you came up with a great  recipe for homemade mozzarella cheese. You include some great photos and even some video on your blog and share it with the world. Another blogger, who is blogging about their pizza recipe, wants to use your mozzarella recipe for the pizza. The blogger then links to your recipe from their blog. Now, all  of those readers will visit your blog to see what you have to offer. Over time, other bloggers will take notice and do the same. At this point, you will have so many bloggers linking to your recipe that when someone Google’s the term “homemade mozzarella recipe,” your site ranks #1 from all the “votes,” and you get to enjoy all the traffic to your site…..for free!

Do you have a blog that doesn’t get enough love? Are you looking to start  one? Contact us today and let us help you!

 

My Blind Date with Specks (Google Glass)

Date Posted: October 8, 2014 by


Hey Bloggers!

Since introducing ourselves in our blogs seems to be the trend around here, don’t mind if I do! My name is Alexa Shumate and I am one of the newest interns here at i76 Solutions. I am in my 2nd month at the company and I couldn’t be enjoying my time here more! I learn more and more each day, and look forward to what’s next. Prior to my start here, I had just graduated from Penn State University, where I earned my degree in Advertising/PR, specifically with the Advertising option. I’ve always had a knack for creativity and writing, which is why I ultimately decided to explore this field. My previous internship at Sports Unlimited taught me a lot about the world of e-commerce. To briefly reiterate from my biography on the homepage, my responsibilities at Sports Unlimited entailed writing buyers’ guides for our engaged audience members, keeping up with the company’s social media websites, coming up with ideas for the brand’s logo, etc… During my job search post-graduation, I came across i76 Solutions. After reading that they are a Digital Media Company, it sparked my interest but slightly exited my comfort zone. I didn’t have much experience in this specific field but I soon realized that I wanted to learn more and explore all that digital media had to offer. With today’s society being so technologically advanced and responsive to non-traditional media, I certainly did not want to miss out. Before I knew it, it was my first day, and now, here I am! I couldn’t be happier with my decision!

Now that you all know a little bit about me, let’s get to the important stuff. I would like to thank Bill for sharing his “Date with A.v.a” story with us, as I found it to be truly inspiring. So inspiring that it encouraged me to take matters into my own hands and pursue interest in the latest toy around the office: Google Glass, but I like to call him Specks. Therefore, I thought I would share my blind date with Specks with all of you. But first, before I jump right to our date, I did what most girls would do before they meet someone they’ve never met before; I Googled him and looked up his profile…

SpecksFor those of you who have never heard of this advanced tech-toy, Google Glass is Google’s development of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display, which is a feature that is capable of reflecting projected images, in addition to allowing users to see clearly through it. The purpose of its construction was to produce “a mass-market ubiquitous computer”. Ubi-quito-whatty? A ubiquitous computer is just a fancy term used in software engineering and computer science. This means that computation is made to appear everywhere and anywhere and across any device, in any format1. Whether you wish to take a picture, or stay updated with your flight, Google Glass allows you to “be active, explore your world, and live lighter,”2 hands-free.

After doing some extra research on Google Glass, I learned that it actually comes in several different styles. So, whether you’re headed outside on a bright sunny day for a run, or you’re off to the library to get some quiet reading done, Google Glass is extremely accommodating to your needs. You can even have your own personal prescription made just for you. Did I mention it made an appearance during this year’s London Fashion week?

After finding some background information to work with, I found that Specks is quite the popular guy and has a lot of family and friends! Everyone kept talking him up around the office, and I actually hadn’t had the opportunity to meet him yet. So, I decided it was time for Specks and I to introduce ourselves face to face. After much anticipation, the moment had finally come. I knew it the first moment I laid eyes on him that it was love at first sight. It was like everything I couldn’t see before, turned out to be right there in front of me the whole time. How could I have been so blind? To be honest, it didn’t start off all that great. It was a little bit awkward at first, to say the least. I wasn’t sure how to communicate with him and I had no idea that he possessed such great qualities. We finally broke the ice and I actually had the courage to speak to him, and he was engaged in everything I said. After spending some more time with Specks, he showed me how to check the weather, my emails, and how to find directions. I gave him a friendly wink, and he took a picture! I knew the feelings at that point were mutual. Specks became very easy to talk to and it only took about 5 minutes for me to feel comfortable with him. I’m so glad I had the opportunity of getting to know Specks, as he turned out to be everything I hoped he would be and more.

It seems like A.v.a and Specks have set the bar pretty high here at i76. I have to wonder who could potentially come next. In-office accessories seem to be the trend. Could it be a watch? Or, is it possible for these same features to somehow be implemented for contact lenses? It remains a mystery, but Bill and I will be sure to keep you updated on the next toy that comes walking through our door!

Resources:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubiquitous_computing)

2. https://www.google.com/glass/start/what-it-does/

Google Panda 4.1

Date Posted: October 3, 2014 by


Google_PandaGoogle released an update to their search algorithm last week that was termed Panda 4.1. Before I delve into the specifics, let’s back track a bit.

To serve better ads, Google basically archives the entire internet. Google uses “crawlers” to visit as many sites on the web as possible and these crawlers return the data from these websites to its servers. Within these servers, an algorithm sorts through the raw data to make an educated guess, not only in regards to the topic what a specific site (and URL), but also how that site/URL ranks with regard to other.

Google’s ranking algorithm is heavily guarded, and rightfully so. If an entity were to figure out the search algorithm, the information can be used to game the search engines, allowing a specific site to rank toward the top of the search results for a specific keyword. Just imagine if you owned a website that ranked #1 in Google for the term ‘car insurance.’ You would be a rich individual as this keyword is a highly profitable one with regard to search volume and intent. Every day, there is someone, somewhere trying to manipulate the search engines’ algorithms to maximize profit. By doing this, a person searching for a lucrative keyword would be served a sub-optimal search result. If enough of these searches are returned, a person may lose faith in the search engines’ credibility, and begin to use it less. If I lose faith in Google, I start searching more in Bing and if enough people do this, Google will serve less ads, which will be a big hit to their overall business.

In an effort to fight this manipulation, Google is constantly updating its search algorithm. Google released the first Panda update a few years ago. The update’s main focus was to penalize sites using thin or weak content to gain rankings for specific keywords. Last week, Panda 4.1 was released which penalized sites that may have slipped through the crack from the previous Panda releases. Some have observed that Panda 4.1 affected sites within the gaming and lyrics sites. It has also been said that Panda 4.1 has affected 3-5% of search queries.

You may be wondering if your site has been impacted by this update. Well, there is a way that you may be able to find out. We would recommend taking a look at your analytics tracker from the beginning of the month through today. If you saw a significant dip (around 20 – 30%) you may have been negatively impacted by this update. If that’s the case, you may want to check your Webmaster Tools account to see if there are any warnings. However, if you notice a spike of about 20 – 30% during this time, you may have outperformed other sites in your industry who were getting by using SEO techniques that violated Google’s guidelines. (maybe add in and explain difference between white and black hat stradegies).

If you have been negatively impacted by Panda 4.1 (or any other algorithm update) feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation. We may be able to help turn things around for you.

A Quick Guide to Your 2015 Marketing Budget

Date Posted: September 30, 2014 by


Fall has officially arrived, bringing Eagles football and pumpkin flavored coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (not our client yet). Before I go any further though, I should introduce myself: my name is Michael McCall, and I am the Director of Strategic Account Leadership and Development at i76 Solutions. I hope you enjoy my blog, and if you have any questions, such as why my title is so long, please ask James Huth.

Marketers will be faced with many tough questions over the next year. First and foremost, they have to allocate their advertising and marketing budget. Digital, broadcast, event marketing, research—the choices are endless. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula: all organizations are unique, and all business verticals face different challenges. Your competitive landscape, your industry’s growth stage, and your evolving target markets are important factors to consider when in deciding how to allocate your marketing dollar.

However, I’d like to share what I’ve found to be a good starting point for budget allocation, as well as a current trend regarding both online and offline advertising. Based on my research, and recent conversations with CMO’s, this is an estimate of how the advertising pie is currently being divided:Screen_Shot_2014-09-29_at_10.10.27_AM-2

This can serve as a useful baseline when preparing your budget. You can also figure on your competitors doing something like the above, so whether you’re trying to catch up in some areas or trying to zig when your competition is zagging, you now have a reasonable starting point for your planning.

Speaking of planning, I recommend using the 70/20/10 rule. This rule (credited to Morgan McCall, no relation) applies to professional and workplace learning. Although the original model was intended for leadership development and management trainees, many within Learning and Development are applying it to other vocations. The marketing model suggests that 70% of investments should be in established and successful programs; 20% should go to emerging trends that are starting to gain traction; and 10% should go to ideas that are completely untested.

According to the 2014 fifth annual Marketing Budgets Report, published by Econsultancy and sponsored by Responsys, there continues to be a shift from off-line to on-line advertising. This report, a survey of more than 600 company and agency marketers, suggests two things.

  1. Agencies are investing more of their clients’ budgets in digital marketing. In 2014, 50% of agencies plan on investing 30% or more of their clients’ budget in digital platforms, versus 38% in 2013.
  2. On average, 38% of their total marketing budgets are being spent on digital, which is a 3% increase from last year’s figures.Screen_Shot_2014-09-29_at_10.15.48_AM
    My conclusion from this report: if it’s not broken, break it! Technology is changing daily, and you can’t afford to not to be proactive. I would even encourage advertisers to carve out a small portion of their budget (around 5%) to test emerging advertising mediums.

    Where is technology going? How can you acquire greater intelligence to measure ROI? These are the questions that need to be continually asked. Lastly, if you haven’t had it, try the pumpkin flavored coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s worth the trip.

    P.S. Go Birds!

     

My Date With A.v.a.

Date Posted: September 22, 2014 by


As appears to be per custom here, I guess I’ll introduce myself. My name is Bill Catalutch, but James calls me Dave. I am one of the two new Digital Media Interns here at i76 Solutions. Before gracing this humble abode, I spent the last four years working in the radio industry in various capacities, ranging from traffic and sports reporting, all the way to production and programming. I was involved in numerous debacles, including wearing a cow suit in protest, driving a band of stoners to a show just before opening act, and taking selfies with softball players after a championship win, just because I happened to be on the field. Working at i76 has been a nice change of pace.

What qualifies me to be the Digital Media Intern? Well, while making the rounds in terrestrial radio, I jump started the Facebook and Twitter accounts of over twenty terrestrial radio stations. These responsibilities were bestowed upon me solely based on the fact that I was a teenager who knew how to turn on Facebook. Here at i76, I’m a bit of a fish out of water, working with men and women with years of digital experience between them, coming from a more traditional background. That being said, I welcome the challenge, and am excited for all of the opportunity that awaits me.

My first week here hasn’t been without its own adventures. Most of you remember A.v.a, the flying camera drone Drew so affectionately named in this post. I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on A.v.a. I had only read about such a thing of beauty. Those long, thin propellers and stout little legs. Those high-definition cameras. I was extremely ill-equipped to handle such technology.

We here at i76 Solutions use these advances in technology and others to push the envelope in marketing. People and businesses diversity their portfolio through investing. We at i76 take revenue and invest in i76 labs, our own in-house division that experiments with new was of integrating new types of technology into marketing campaigns. A.v.a. is the newest object of our affections, and at the moment is for hire.

Drew calls me outside one afternoon, cradling A.v.a. in his arms. I don’t know if it was in ego or admiration, but Drew took her up as high as she could go, and just like that, A.v.a. was gone. Nothing to remember her by, other than the pictures she sent back from the sky.

It was at this point that Drew decided to hand me the controls. I never even owned a remote control car growing up (though I desperately wanted one for Christmas), and now Drew was entrusting his third day intern to land an extremely expensive low flying aircraft in the area the size of half a football field, with trees and buildings surrounding each side. I don’t know if the Barney Stinson in me came out at that moment, but I accepted the challenge.

I grabbed the controls and peered up at the bright blue sky. A.v.a. was nowhere to be seen, so I began to bring her down gently. She’s a fighter, A.v.a. is, but I didn’t give up. My eyes felt like they were melting, but soon enough, there was A.v.a. on the horizon, not even remotely close to where I was looking. Things got a little hairy down around the 200 foot mark, when I nearly took A.v.a. into a building, then nearly clipped the top of a tree. Soon enough, I was able to ease her down, and A.v.a. landed safe and sound.

One time with A.v.a. was quite enough for me. At the end of it, I couldn’t tell if I was more exhilarated than ever before, or if I was just having my first panic attack. As much fun as A.v.a. was to fly, I can’t help but to wonder what the future is for civilian drones. Zoning and permit laws are a bit of a gray area right now, as businesses and civilians have never before had access to this type of technology.

I’m pretty early into my tenure here at i76, but it’s hard to imagine that any of my future experiences will be more memorable than my first time with A.v.a. I’ll continue to post sporadically this semester, offering other technological insight and humorous anecdotes from my time at i76. Our other lovely intern Alexa will be the next to take A.v.a. up into the sky, and I wish both of them the best of luck.

User Registration and Personalization: The Truth Feels Good

Date Posted: September 12, 2014 by


User Registration and Personalization: The Truth Feels Good

Over the last few weeks at i76 Solutions (www.i76solutions), we have been trading off summer vacations for in-office stints along with business trips. In August, i76 Solutions was fortunate to send a few of our team to Google as a reward for being selected as a Google Partner Agency All Star. Yes, the Google Partner Agency All Star Summit was cool and networking with other digital marketing agencies was a learning experience, but the highlight was the content and the shared vision amongst both Googlers and other digital marketing agency executives.

The common theme at both the Google Agency All Star Summit, and the conversations with our customers at i76 Solutions more recently have centered more and more around the rising concept of Personalization. As someone who started their career in mass reach media, I was taught to get the brand out in front of as many as possible. Idon’t need to go on about audience “segmentation”, which began on a large scale with the rise of cable nets in the ‘80s. Fast forward a few decades, and segmentation has evolved into personalization.iStock_000013846060Small

So what does Personalization mean? Another digital marketing buzzword? More jargon? Yep. The fact is that with the proliferation of 1st and 3rd party data, we are seeing greater and greater opportunities to deliver personalized messages, whether it’s when a consumer hits a web page, a brand looks to place a user’s name in an e-mail subject, or when someone has been remarketed a series of A/B ads as they journey down the funnel towards converting into a sale, download, or registration. As part of our digital marketing practice, at i76 Solutions we are very much proponents of putting a healthy percentage of our client’s funds into ad environments that are structured around user-registration. The ability to slice and dice user-registration data while building a campaign is about as close as one can get to going door-to-door selling your client’s product, yet with scale and without burning a lot of shoe-rubber. If you looked over our shoulders at i76 Solutions, you would see consumer insights from user registration (lowercase) sites that would make you feel good. The truth is, personalization is where we are headed right now, and that’s good

The biggest, recent affirmation of the concept of personalization was the announcement this week (Ad Age) that Interpublic’s buying arm UM, will invest 9 figures over a two year period in Facebook Advertising. UM’s head of Media David Cohen stated:

“We’ve been reliant upon linear television for 60 years,” he said. “We now have, over the past couple of years, seen online video start to take nibbles of that, but at scale high-quality video is still at a premium. Facebook video affords us an opportunity to reach that same level of audience, with demographic targeting, as television. Access to Facebook’s demographic data based on real registered users (as opposed to cookies), will be a key component of the deal, he said.”

As you plan for 2015, one of the key strategies you need to ask yourself and other business stakeholders is: how do we personalize our brand in our communications, advertising, and overall marketing and how do we personalize the distribution of those messages.

Kick-starting your Social Media Strategy

Date Posted: July 25, 2014 by


Hi, blog readers! This is Rachel, the summer 2014 Digital Media Intern at i76 Solutions. I’m studying Communication Arts and Business Administration at a small school in New England. My career interests range from professional crocheter to marketing maven, and I eagerly accepted a position at a digital marketing agency to try my hand at the seemingly more realistic of these two dreams.

Let me tell you, time has FLOWN by. How is it almost August?! My time at i76 has been marked by various fun and exciting projects (like this drone); however, my main task is to grow and maintain an interested audience across our social media channels. It has been quite the learning experience. Contrary to popular belief, we millennials a.k.a. “social media experts” do not know the first thing about strategy or how to successfully target an audience. If you’re reading this blog post I’m guessing you might be in the same boat. Today I’ll be sharing with you my newfound knowledge about crafting a social media strategy for success.social_strategy

First, stop whatever you’re doing. If you’re already present on social media without a clear strategy or if you’re a novice looking to jump into the social ocean, take a step back. It’s always better to look before you leap and, in this case, ask yourself a few questions before taking the plunge.

–       Who are you?

–       What distinguishes you?

–       What is your voice?

–       Who is your target audience?

–       What platforms do they frequent?

–       What are they interested in?

–       Who do they listen to?

–       Who are the influencers in your niche?

–       How can you associate with them?

–       What conversations can you join?

Once you have a clear grasp of your social media goals, you should think about content. Don’t post just to post—add value to your followers’ newsfeeds by creating conversations or adding to relevant and interesting threads. I love this part of social strategy because I love to read. When I was younger I used to say I wanted to work somewhere where my only job was to read and, honestly, sometimes I feel like that is what it takes to be a good social media manager. I scour news sites and news feeds for ideas daily, posting relevant news stories in real-time and bookmarking ideas for later. My taskbar might look insane with the number of bookmarks I have, but it’s always better to have content to fall back on when you’re feeling not-so-creative or need to plan ahead.

Then, make a schedule outlining posting frequencies for each platform. Different sources contradict each other, but the general consensus says:

–       Facebook user engagement is highest Wednesdays around 3 PM, peak hours on weekday afternoons

–       Twitter user engagement is highest Monday – Thursdays 9 – 3 PM

–       Instagram receives high user engagement daily since it’s a mobile app, but a high percentage of people post on Thursdays (#tbt for the win)

–       LinkedIn user engagement is highest early mornings before work, or early evenings right after work

social_schedule

Keep on track with your schedule but don’t be afraid to get ‘crazy’ and post something outside of it.

Once you have identified your goal, your content type, and schedule, start making an appearance on the web. A common mistake for people to make is to assume that others will discover their web presence and flock to their golden content—wrong! Half the time people won’t even know you’re there; you have to give some to get some. Start following local outlets, influencers, and people who might be interested in your content. See something interesting in your news feed? Thank the outlet who posted it or ask a question in response.

A few miscellaneous things to remember:

–       Starting low or from scratch is not a disadvantage! This is a prime time to experiment and see what works for your organization. Play around with different styles of content or scheduling without the risk of losing too many followers if things go awry.

–       Don’t feel like you need to jump on the bandwagon and be present on every social platform known to man. If it doesn’t make sense for your organization, don’t use it. Better to experience success on one platform than to be invisible on several.

–       Always be on the lookout for opportunities to join or create conversations. Join Twitter chats about your industry or topics of interests; scour relevant hashtags for people to connect with.social_conversations

Social media for business is a learned skill and one that must be practiced and honed on a regular basis. I hope that these brief insights will help you correct or create a social media strategy for success. Questions? Fill out the form below and we’d be happy to chat with you. We #THINKandDO and hope you will too!

P.S. if you’re not following us on social media after reading this post… you should be.