Something’s been popping up in Google Webmaster Tools site messages lately that’s been making dev teams and SEOs everywhere let out a groan:

Google systems have tested [x number of] pages from your site and found that [x%] of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.

A few of our clients have been getting this warning since the beginning of the year. Basically what it boils down to is that Google is nicely warning you of algorithm changes on the horizon, and you’d better get in line with their developer guidelines before April 21st. During that week, a new algorithm is scheduled to roll out, and if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it will be penalized. What does that mean? Essentially, sites with more mobile usability will likely be given more prominence (read: higher SERPs rankings) in searches performed on mobile devices. If you don’t comply, you won’t rank as well.

And if you’ve got a business, you really should want to continue ranking well. Why, you ask? Because over the past year or so, mobile usage has been skyrocketing. Eighty percent of adults have smartphones, and marketers are discovering that mobile searchers are the most ready to open their wallets and make a purchase. The problem, though, is that websites are pretty darn tiny when you look at them on your phone screen. That means you’re forced to pinch, scroll, prod and poke your way through a site (or, if you’re me, you just squint and wave goodbye to all of those dollars you spent on LASIK). This can lead to frustration, impatience, vision loss and insanity on the consumer’s part – or they simply leave your site and find one that they can view on the technology they choose. And that, most importantly, results in loss of sales for you.

Google knows this, and since Google’s goal is (and always has been) to quickly and easily provide the most relevant results to search queries, it knows that mobile frustrations are inconveniencing the user. To help searchers out, a “Mobile-Friendly” label will be displayed next to compliant pages in mobile search results, which gives end users a hint as to which sites will provide a better experience.

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But you should still take a deeper dive, because different site pages may fare differently. If you’re a webmaster with a site registered in Google Webmaster Tools, you should have gotten an email alerting you to the issue. Log into GWT and navigate to the Search Traffic dropdown. Look for the “Mobile Usability” option, which will display all of the issues you or your developers will have to fix in order to comply with the new algorithm, along with a list of corresponding pages. If you don’t have GWT, you can run your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly testing tool.

While this is by no means an extensive list, “fixing” things could mean removing Flash elements, making sure content is sized to the viewport, and making sure the touch elements/clickable items aren’t too close together (because everyone hates fat fingering content, you know). Every site is unique, so every webmaster will see a different list. Even if you have a responsive site, don’t think you’re safe! Unique coding on certain pages of the site have the potential to trigger a mobile usability problem.

Still confused? If your business has a website but you don’t know whether or not mobile usability warnings apply to you, try reaching out to Flying Cork and let us figure it out for you!

 

It’s that wonderful time of year again when cold gray skies start to transition into warm sunshine, when the howl of harsh winter wind is replaced by the sound of birds chirping and cluttered corners are cleared of dust and cobwebs. As winter gives way to spring it’s time to start thinking about that dreaded spring cleaning…not necessarily cleaning your home, but spring cleaning your email lists!

Email list hygiene is an important best practice for any email program. It allows you to clear out the old and make way for the new. It is widely encouraged that email lists be “cleaned” at least once every six months to help improve deliverability and overall tracking metrics. Don’t do your email marketing campaigns a disservice by staying trapped in the winter lull; instead, follow these three helpful tips on how to properly scrub those email lists.

1. Remove Inactive Subscribers

Take a look at your engagement metrics and remove anyone who has not opened an email in the past six months. If people aren’t engaging with your emails, then stop sending to them, especially since ISPs take these metrics into consideration to determine delivery.

If it’s really just too hard to let go of those unengaged subscribers, create a re-engagement campaign. Direct these subscribers to a landing page and ask them to confirm their interest in receiving future email communications from you. This will also help to weed-out any invalid email addresses that have made their way onto your list.

2. Remove Bounced & Invalid Email Addresses

It happens more often than you think, all of the sudden your deliverability rate starts to deviate further and further away from 100 percent. Take a minute to look at the bounce rate for the list. Most email marketing platforms will flag an email address as undeliverable after three bounces, which is a good thing. This ensures that those inboxes will not continue to be hounded and it helps with your overall deliverability metrics. Also, it is beneficial to use a data checker or email validation at sign-up to account for user error or common typos.

3. DO NOT PURCHASE THIRD PARTY EMAIL LISTS

Easy come, easy go. While you may see immediate benefits from a purchased list, the majority of the subscribers will not remain engaged in the long run. These people are more likely to hit the spam button first and ask questions later. Rather than purchasing lists, develop a sure-fire list building campaign to gather some fresh subscribers.

Blogs are everywhere. Whether it’s a blog about a popular TV show, pets, recipes, fitness or anything in between, blogs are a platform that’s used by many.

But, just because a lot of people are in the blogosphere, doesn’t mean that people are using them correctly. So, today in my blog, I want to start you off with three important tips to keep in mind for the next time you log on to your company’s blog (with permission from your boss of course).

1. Only the Best

Anything less than your best when publishing a blog is not only a waste of your time but your readers’ time as well. That sounded harsh but, let me explain! When crafting content for your company’s blog keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to be looked at like an expert in your field. You want to put your company in a position that when people have an industry-specific question they turn to your blog for the answer. So, if you’re blogging about irrelevant content that’s for lack of a better term, fluff, people won’t take your company seriously. Always remember to keep your thumb on the pulse of your industry and post current, relevant content, often!

2. Style

No, I’m not referencing Taylor Swift’s latest song, I’m talking about your writing style! At their core, blogs are meant to be informal and gives businesses the chance to humanize their company. Your blog is the perfect platform to add personality and to get rid of the sales-y tone. However, just because a blog is informal doesn’t mean that you can substitute S’s for dollar $igns, it’s still a company blog so keep it professional!

3. Share and Share Alike

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this and it more than likely won’t be the last time either! If you want your message to spread like wildfire, you have to make it easy on the reader to share your blog. Take out the extra step of having to copy and paste your blog’s link by simply adding share icons! This will make it easier for people to share your posts and drive traffic to your site. Need more info? Check out my previous blog about the power of social sharing buttons!

Let’s summarize these three tips: Only post your best blog content that shows a hint of personality but is still professional enough that will make people want to share your blog by simply clicking on the social icons!

The Case for Needs Analysis

You may have seen it posted many times on LinkedIn; in fact, I just saw it today:

Which (marketing automation, email distribution system, etc.) system do you recommend?

People post single-word responses proclaiming solidarity with their favorites, and that’s the end of the conversation. The original poster may then take the most popular response or two, look at the price/features breakdown, discuss with some internal organization partners and make a decision.

Fast forward a few months. The system has been implemented, but it might not be exactly what that LinkedIn poster was hoping. Perhaps it doesn’t work as hoped with internal systems, or maybe there’s data that’s still not being used effectively.

It is possible to avoid buyer’s remorse, but it’s going to take some work in the form of a needs analysis.

The Why Factor

It’s obvious that there’s a hole in your organization – people are spending hours doing work that could easily be automated, thereby making them more efficient; you’re missing an opportunity to grow business with a prospect-turned-customer because you’re not tracking their journey after the sale. Whatever it is, the first key is identifying that missing piece of the puzzle.

Once you’ve figured out this part of the riddle, it’s time to start asking of your organization:

  • Why do we have this role?
  • Why do we feel that now is the time to make a change?
  • Why do we think x type of system with solve it?

Answers that Create More Questions

So great, now you have the answers to those questions, and probably have an idea of the type of system you want to implement. Now it’s time to dive into your collective final goals – what efficiencies will the newly implemented system realize, how will it enhance the customers’ experience with your company and, last but certainly not least, how will this new system increase your overall bottom line?

Then, in order to achieve these goals, it’s finally time for the needs analysis. During this step you’ll identify what feature(s) of the ideal system you’ll need to help you achieve these goals. For example, if you’re interested in marketing automation, you’ll need to describe the prospect’s entire journey to becoming a customer, and identify what touch points you need at each stage to make the transition successful. Once that sale is made, you’ll map the customer’s journey (and, again, associated touch points) to re-engagement. How will this new system touch both internal and external users, and how will those touch points trigger customer interaction back with your company?

Finally, you’re ready to begin looking at the myriad systems likely available for what you need. Sometimes you’ll know the right fit from the get go. Sometimes there’s an ideal fit but a less than ideal price, so you have to be willing to compromise. Before you reach that point, alleviate disappointment and the creation of unrealistic expectations by identifying the minimum viable requirements: What are the absolute must-haves to consider this a success, and what are the nice-to-haves that aren’t completely necessary at this stage?

Time Will Be On Your Side

It’s important to be thorough; the more information you have, the better you’ll be able to trust that you’re making the right decision. Needless to say, this is not something that can be done quickly. It takes time to conduct the various levels of analysis needed to make an informed decision. But as a wise man once told me, “You can have it fast, cheap or well done. Three choices, you get two. Choose wisely.”

You do have one more possible ace in the hole: Flying Cork. If you’re looking for a new digital marketing system, our team will become your organization’s partner, helping you identify and implement the right system for your needs.