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How Presidential Candidates Use the Web – Lesson 1: Build Your Brand

HC404It’s August 2015, which means one thing in American politics and media: We’re in the thick of a presidential election over a year away!  For some citizens, all this electioneering hoopla is a bore.  For others, it’s their favorite reality show on cable news.  For presidential candidates, the early campaign is an opportunity to establish their brand.

This post is the first in Dynamicweb’s new blog series on what e-businesses should learn from how US presidential candidates use the web.

The first lesson is to build your brand.  A customer’s relationship with a brand is powerful, whether they’re voting with a ballot or with their wallet.  Your brand is what your customer thinks about your company.  Branding affects if prospects buy from you, if they recommend buying from you, and if they return to buy from you once they already have.

To see how presidential candidates influence how their customers (potential voters) view them, let’s look at their online errors, specifically their online 404 error pages.  The 404 error page is what pops up on a website when a user tries to access a page that doesn’t actually exist.  You don’t really want your visitors seeing this page, but presidential candidates have infused their respective 404 pages with personality in order to build their brand.

We don’t recommend foregrounding your 404 error pages, but the content here gives insight on how to build your brand as your own business online.

Hillary Clinton’s 404 page, an image that appears at the top of this post, shows how carefully chosen images help build your brand.  Clinton (or her marketing team) chose a family picture at Disney, emphasizing her softer and family-centric qualities.  Rather than redirecting you to another area of the site, her 404 page asks you to sign up to volunteer, so it also acts as a lead generation tool.  And of course, her logo sits atop the page.

In a simple, single page, Clinton establishes how she wants to be seen and also proactively tries to capture the visitor’s information.  You too want to look at each area of your website for opportunities to build your brand and grow your business.  Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, similarly, has an image that shows how he wants to be seen, as a good ol’ boy fishing with his dog.   Instead of a lead form, Huckabee’s 404 page implores the visitor to check out more content, namely his platform.

Just like these candidates, your e-business benefits when you leverage simple tools, such as a well-placed image and well-timed lead form, to build your brand and attract customers. 

Ever since Richard Nixon debated John Kennedy, video has been recognized as a crucial tool to build your brand.  The sweaty Nixon looked nothing like the young Kennedy on that newly-popular television invention.  And video is just as effective at establishing a strong presence on the Internet.  Republican candidate Marco Rubio’s 404 page gives the visitor a short video of Rubio coaching children’s football.

Like Hillary’s Disney picture, Rubio’s video builds his brand as someone that cares about his family.  Video gives the opportunity for Rubio to expand on this image as well.  Rubio is shown as equating his coaching with the themes of competition and triumph traditionally associated with football.  The video also shows that Rubio values these traditional themes, unconcerned with the growing public concerns over children’s football due to the risks of concussion.  Whether your company image shies away from controversy or embraces a riskier platform, video is an excellent tool to build your brand.

Bernie Sanders, once dismissed as a Democratic longshot next to Clinton, uses his website to build his brand as a straightforward, honest candidate that cares about righting the wrongs in society.  Like Rubio, Sanders also chose video for his 404 page.  This time, the injustice Sanders wants to fight is that of improper website navigation.

His video, in classic Sanders fashion, directly tells the visitor that they didn’t end up on the page they wanted and that he will help them get to where they want to go (on his website.)  Sanders speaks directly to the camera and the visitor, a tactic that is especially effective for business content in customer testimonials.  Check out the testimonials on Dynamicweb’s home page for an example.

The images and videos you put on your website reflects your company values.  This content builds your brand how you want to be seen.  So if you want to be positively presidential, think about how you leverage your website for the growth of your company.  And stay tuned for the next blog on what lessons presidential candidates have for your e-business.

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One Essential Online Marketing Tip for the One or Two Person Marketing Department

marketing teamOnly one or two people to your marketing department?  No problem!  When it comes to small and medium-sized business, some of the best marketing teams have less people than there are printers in the office.  Yes, ecommerce is huge, but that doesn’t mean your team has to be.  So how do smaller teams handle content creation, lead generation, and all the tasks of online marketing?

Even if you already have great content overflowing with information, education, entertainment, and edutainment, that’s still not enough.  Your online tools also make a huge difference whether or not you reach your business objectives.  Your Content Management System ultimately determines if your website reaches its full potential.  If your online marketing team is big on ideas but not big on size, then your CMS needs one key trait: ease of use.

Whether you are just putting up product descriptions or posting a variety of content marketing gems, you won’t be successful if you are unable to get that content online in the first place.  After all, the reason you bought a CMS in the first place is probably to get content onto your website.

If your CMS isn’t easy to use, then your small marketing team has to rely on more technical departments and employees to get their content online and their campaigns moving.  Relevant content gets delayed, sometimes towards irrelevance.  Time and money are wasted, from both the marketing team and the technical teams.  And your business objectives slip further into the future and further away.

A CMS that is easy-to-use empowers marketers to actually do their marketing.  Fast marketers are agile marketers, so a CMS that allows for quick and painless posting expands your possibilities for online marketing.  Many Content Management Systems, however, believe easy content posting is all they have to offer.  They lack the features that online marketing teams want.

Ease of use means more than just how easy it is to get content from a blank word processor document onto your website.  The interface for online posting is important, but your CMS should be easy to use for all of its online marketing features.  The most successful online marketing campaigns encompass email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and even crafting customer profiles in order to deliver personalization for their web experience.

Whether your goals are increased conversions, lead generation, or lower bounce rates on your website, a cumbersome CMS acts as a roadblock for all of these goals.  Ease of use is essential to facilitate marketers and especially important for one or two person teams.   That’s why Dynamicweb offers a complete online marketing center as part of its All-In-One CMS and Ecommerce solution for small teams to find big success.

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New York Stock Exchange and United Down – Why You Need the Best Team Possible
The floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Many American citizens woke up today to the importance of stable networks and backend systems.  Wednesday morning, two separate occurrences took down two of the most sophisticated and secure entities in the US economy.  United Airlines grounded their flights, stating a network connectivity error disrupted their systems.  Then in an apparently unrelated event, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shut down, halting trading, and they gave a number of reasons why.

Stability matters.  When seeking out backend systems for your company, make sure to look into the stability and reliability of these solutions.  This is especially important for a Content Management and Ecommmerce System that is responsible for your presence on the web.

There’s no telling yet how much loss is incurred by the shutdown of New York Stock Exchange, but if your website goes down, that has a definite ripple effect across your e-business.  If these multi-billion dollar systems, some of the most sophisticated and secure in the world, have problems, it reminds us that digital business has some inherent vulnerabilities.  On that same note, you can be sure that some of the smartest and most sophisticated intellect is working at a fevered pace to fix the problems.

That is why it is essential for you to evaluate not only the technology and tools of the platform that will run your business, but also the team of people who will deliver the most reliable and secure e-business systems for your budget and stand by you in good times and if there’s trouble.  At Dynamicweb, we stand by our customers in helping them grow their businesses at all times.  Ask any of our customers about the business outcomes we deliver and about our support that solves any problems at minimal disruption to their business.  Click here to meet some of our team.

 

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July 5th – Evergreen Content Marketing After the Fireworks

5th of JulyThis is not a July 4th post.  This is a July 5th post.  The picnics are over.  The cupcakes are eaten.  The fireworks have fizzled out.  Content marketing, though, doesn’t have to fizzle out.  While some content is good for a day or a week or a month, other types of content continue to drive traffic to your website throughout the calendar year.  This is evergreen content marketing.

Named after trees that keep their foliage all year round, evergreen content stays fresh and relevant long after you first publish it.  Unlike a Roman candle, this type of content marketing is good from July 5th through July 3rd the next year and even beyond that.  Evergreen content not only increases site traffic but also generates leads for your business, builds brand awareness, and establishes thought leadership.

The reason evergreen content works is because of the nature of search engines.  Search engines are in the business of delivering the most relevant content to their users.  When you use popular keywords with your evergreen content marketing, you gain an SEO advantage as potential customers search for the associated words on search engines.  And because your content is evergreen, it continues to be relevant after the initial posting.

There are two important tips to keep in mind when you create evergreen content:

1. Evergreen content deals with subjects that don’t change. The goal of evergreen content marketing is to present content that is timeless. Sure, you may have referenced statistics or data that need to be updated, but the meat of the content should be designed to stay useful and informative to your audience.  This is what continues to drive organic search.  (And yes, you are allowed to go back and update the content you intend to be evergreen.  Consider this the same as trimming the dead branches off a very-much-alive tree.)

2. Effective evergreen content is relevant to your business. The classic example of evergreen content is the “How to Tie a Tie” instructional.  From now until the end of time itself, people will turn to Google to learn how to properly set their necktie.  It’s very likely, however, that your business has nothing to do with ties, so this exact piece of content does little for your brand.  Instead, choose a topic of particular interest to your potential customers.

On the subject of “How To” do make for great evergreen content.  If there are instructionals related to your products or your industry in general that interest your audience, then why not be the one to provide them?  Video content performs especially well, but general consumer or business tips, in-depth whitepapers, case studies, and product reviews all have the potential to stay relevant for a very long time.

Once you’ve come up with evergreen content that works for your business, use calls-to-action on these pages to boost conversions and leads.  When you create other pieces of content, you also want to link back to your evergreens because they continue to be relevant.  Of course, evergreen content is just one part of your content strategy.  Utilize a variety of types of content for your website, so that unlike the July 4th fireworks, you have content marketing that stays bright all year long.

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NAVUG is Coming Up! – Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Ecommerce, and Dynamicweb

Summit_2015_NAVUG_SUMMITEvery fall, NAVUG (the big conference for the Microsoft Dynamics NAV User Group) rolls into a city and builds a great learning environment for ERP users everywhere.  NAVUG 2015 is in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada, and Dynamicweb will be there to show the myriad benefits of integrating your Microsoft Dynamics NAV with ecommerce.  The dates are October 12th – 16thRegistration is open now!

NAVUG hosts keynotes, group discussions, roundtables, and more, all designed to give you a comprehensive education on Enterprise Resource Planning solutions.  Microsoft Dynamics NAV, a powerful ERP system from Microsoft, helps you manage your product inventory, prices, orders, supply chain, and more.  And if you sell products online or if you plan to in the future, then an ecommerce solution that seamlessly integrates with your NAV system is essential if you want to deliver the best experience for your customers.

Customers today want self-service, which means they want access to the product, pricing, and order info that’s in your ERP.  The data in your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution is just as useful for online selling as it is for offline selling.  The first step, of course, is getting that information from your back-end systems to your website.  That’s where integration comes in.

Without an ecommerce solution that “talks” to your Microsoft Dynamics NAV, maintenance and updates for your website would be an arduous, time-consuming, manual process of data reentry.  Integration, on the other hand, instantly updates the data from your ERP to your ecommerce site in realtime.  Customers get the up-to-date product info they demand in order to make purchases online, and you save time, money, and administration.

Self-service means empowering the customer with the ability to learn about your products and place online orders themselves.  Imagine the loss of customer trust if your product data or inventory information is incorrectly displayed on your website when the customer places an order.  As soon as you realize the error, you contact the customer and tell them that they ordered the wrong product or that the item is out of stock.  Do you think the customer is more or less likely to make a second attempt at a purchase?

The ability to store and manage all your data from your Microsoft Dynamics NAV and have your ecommerce site reflect the most recent updates saves you from these situations.  ERP integration further enables customers to perform extensive product searches on your website with advanced filtering options, access their individual order history, and even see personalized discounts and catalogs.  Of course, an ecommerce solution with seamless integration and a rich feature set is also a part of the equation.

All the business logic from your ERP is carried over to your ecommerce site with integration as well.  These rules get very complex (regarding freight, quantity pricing, discounts, etc.,) so it’s best to let your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution handle the business logic and have your ecommerce site reflect those rules on the frontend.

NAVUG 2015 looks to be a great learning experience for businesses to get the most out of their NAV solutions.  And to really get the most out of your ERP, use this powerful tool to optimize and grow your business online.  If you want to learn more, come say “Hi” to Dynamicweb at NAVUG.  We’ll be at Booth 640.  See you there!

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