<![CDATA[Dixon Schwabl | Blog]]> http://dixonschwabl.com/ Dixon Schwabl Blog en Copyright 2017 2017-12-17T18:21:25-05:00 <![CDATA[10 Brands That Crush the 404 Error Page Game]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/10-brands-that-crush-the-404-error-page-game https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/10-brands-that-crush-the-404-error-page-game
Ls Paul Option 2

Errors are fine. That’s why pencils have erasers. Wait, let me translate to Millennials: “That’s why there’s a Back button” or “That’s why there’s Command-Z.”

The difference can be all in how you view your errors. One of the most well-known errors in the digital realm is a 404 Error—a digital return-to-sender that tells you that you've entered an invalid address for an active page. Perhaps one of the best uses of an error page was Twitter’s infamous Fail Whale. It embraced the fact that the site was down and turned the whale into a thing. Yes, it was negative, but it became a part of the experience that people remember rather than an annoyance without brand identity.

What used to be an afterthought has become a chance to endear your audience in the face of error. In that respect, these 10 brands turned 404s into 100 emojis. Wait, let me translate for Gen-Xers: They turned 404 Error pages into something totally radical.

Pixar. Cute sells.

Bitly. No detail is too small.

Starbucks. Simple, artsy and on brand.

NPR. All things considered, this is excellent.

Kualo. Please come back after this one, because you’re guaranteed to get sucked in for at least a few minutes.

Air B&B. We’ve all been there …

Mail Chimp. *Snickers before clicking “Back.”

Bloomberg. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Android. Because games make everything better.

Visit Steve. Super awkward and perfect.

LEGO. So that’s what happened …

It’s a small detail, but that’s the point. Turn that frown upside down with a clever 404 page. Didn't get enough? There's more. A lot more

Paul Gangarossa is a PR Executive and Brand Journalist at Dixon Schwabl, who reached level 5 on the Kualo/Space Invaders game mentioned above. Beat that and then @ him about it on Twitter

<![CDATA[What You Need to Know About Netflix & Nielsen]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-netflix-nielsen https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-netflix-nielsen
Scott Hs

Netflix has been excellent at two things: creating binge watchers and not telling other media companies who those people are. Until now. Netflix will now allow long-time TV marketing leader, Nielsen, to monitor, measure and share viewer data.

This move makes a lot of sense for Nielsen, as they strive to retain their place as the go-to source for TV audience data in the face of staggering cord-cutting statistics. eMarketer projects that 22 million U.S. adults will cancel cable or satellite TV services in 2017– up 33 percent from 2016. By 2021, eMarketer predicts that fully 30 percent of American adults won’t have traditional pay TV at all. Of course, even those who continue to subscribe to traditional pay TV often have subscription video on demand (SVOD) in addition to those services.

All of this makes viewing data for streaming services that much more critical, and Netflix is the clear leader with 66 percent of SVOD users. This move positions Nielsen to fight off comScore, the online measurement company that has been making moves to unseat Nielsen as the leader in TV audience measurement (Nielsen is suing comScore right now to stop them from launching a competing product).

Some people are puzzled about the Netflix move, as Nielsen data has primarily been used by TV companies to justify ad rates and by media buyers to plan ad buys. Netflix, of course, contains no advertising opportunities. Nielsen’s answer is that large media companies (A&E Networks, Walt Disney’s ABC, Lionsgate, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and Time Warner’s Warner Bros. have reportedly signed on so far) want this kind of audience viewing data to give them a full picture of the reach and lifecycle of their licensed content that ends up on SVOD services like Netflix to guide programming decisions and project licensing revenue.

Nielsen also plans to add the other two major SVOD services — Hulu and Amazon Prime Video — sometime next year. Hulu does have advertising opportunities, and Nielsen data would be useful to TV buyers who want to apply consistent viewing data across platforms.

The biggest shortcoming of this move by Nielsen (at least what we know about it so far) is that it is incomplete. As with all Nielsen data, it’s limited to a sample of people who have tracking devices in their homes. Additionally, as Netflix itself has been quick to point out, it does not measure viewership on smartphones, tablets or computers. When you consider that Netflix data suggests nearly 40 percent of subscribers use one of these devices as their primary means of watching the service, that adds up to a pretty big blind spot.

In any event, as TV advertising continues to become more addressable and programmatic, third-party measurement will be key, and it’s natural that Nielsen would be seeking a foothold in the rapidly growing SVOD space. Whether they can fend off competitors and retain their market position remains to be seen.

Scott Ensign is our VP of Digital Media. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email to connect at scott_ensign@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[Take the Time & Do the Right Thing!]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/take-the-time-do-the-right-thing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/take-the-time-do-the-right-thing
Britt Lui Hs

I’m lazy.

Not necessarily at work, where it’s usually “go time” and I’ll champion even the most minute thing, but in my home life. I’m more likely to watch TV with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or pick up my computer and cruise the net than run around the block, cut grass or go for a bike ride. I am not typically physically tired from work, but I’m usually mentally exhausted and in need of some recharging from a long day. 

In little squabbles over 22 years with my significant other, this perceived lack of motivation becomes a point of conversation and will be packaged to me as “things you always do.” Like “you never make the bed, take out the trash or put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.” In my mind, I say how my job is more demanding than his. Or that he’s too “type A” about things. I’m fine. HE needs to loosen up! Now, he does all the outside work, so in theory (although I never agreed to this on paper), I focus on the “house stuff” — cleaning and laundry (which I find strangely therapeutic). But sometimes my actions don’t fit his timetables.

One day, the summer before last, I was about to leave for work. Those of you who know me know that I get up REALLY early in the morning. I’ll go to the gym. (I drive by it every day, I figured I might as well go in!). I’ll come back home and have some coffee, maybe do some work on my laptop. Sometimes I’ll even take a nap before work. (Yes, I get up THAT early!) While about to rush out the door, I looked down at that pesky sink full of dishes from dinner the night before. I walked away, stopped, turned back toward the sink and said, “Do the right thing.” Take the extra time to do what’s right. Don’t give him the chance to bring this up again. And it IS the right thing to do. Clean up your mess. Be a good citizen.

My mantra has become DTRT — Do the Right Thing! I use it almost daily. DTRT and straighten up before you leave for work. DTRT and empty the garbage when it’s full or replace the toilet paper when it's two sheets away from being empty. DTRT and take a deep breath and relax when someone cuts you off on the expressway. DTRT and thank someone for something they did. Doing the right thing isn’t the law. But it makes me feel good and helps create harmony in the house.

The same is true in business. Dennis Organ defined Organizational Citizenship Behaviors as “individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization.” It’s about doing the right thing and going above and beyond to benefit yourself, your coworkers and your organization.

That’s what it’s all about at Dixon Schwabl. We look for good citizens. People with values and integrity who do the right thing. People who lift each other up and act as a true team. People who value diversity and differences of opinion and thought. People who take the time to replace the paper in the copier, rather than just walk away. People who mentor new employees, even though they’re not tasked with that function. And people who admit when they’re wrong or when they’ve made a mistake — even if it’s hard or embarrassing to do.

Doing the right thing has benefited my personal life. And it has helped me advance in the workplace, too. Be a good citizen of your household, your workplace, your community and the planet. When you get the chance to do business as usual or pay it forward and create harmony and order through simple action, it’s pretty clear to me … DTRT!

Britton Lui is our VP of People & Development, and he’s definitely not lazy when it comes to cultivating a culture that grows and sustains itself through doing the right thing. Reach him at britton_lui@dixonschwabl.com

<![CDATA[Twitter Gives Us Character Anxiety]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/twitter-gives-us-character-anxiety-1 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/twitter-gives-us-character-anxiety-1
Ls Paul Option 2

The Demise of Twitter has been a storyline for a few years now. It's fallen from its perch as one of the largest social media outlets, and instead cranes its neck to look up at its Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat overlords. But it's still relevant. It's still a thing. And it still serves a valuable purpose for its every-day audience and the casual tweet-stalker. 

But Twitter, the business, isn't OK with that. Twitter, the business, needs to grow to stay competitive and stave off obsolescence for as long as possible. Not unlike music stores or Jason Biggs, Twitter needs to do something every now and then to shake things up and regain the spotlight. 

Enter, the Great 280 Character Limit Experiment. 

In what could be Twitter's 'Jump-the-Shark' moment, the social media pioneer is debuting a new 280-character limit that has people everywhere wondering why. In a space that heralded brevity, users (like us) are coming to terms with a new kind of character-counter anxiety. 

We asked team members at @DixonSchwabl — from interns to our president, Mike Schwabl — to share their POV on 280 and close with either #VoteYesOn280 or #VoteNoOn280. Here's how things are trending and, not surprisingly for Twitter, it's mostly negative.

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Love it or hate it, you don't have to use it. And that goes double for brands. If your brand's goals determine that Twitter is a viable outlet for you, don't worry yourself with the character count. Focus on creating the best content you can and use what Twitter (or any platform) gives you to fit your audience. 

If 280 becomes the new 140, use it because it's smart, not because you can.

@PaulGangarossa is a PR Executive/Brand Journalist at DixonSchwabl with experience helping brands with social media and content marketing. He can also jump over you.  

<![CDATA[Let the Customer Decide Which Marketing is Best with A/B Testing]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/let-the-customer-decide-which-marketing-is-best-with-a-b-testing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/let-the-customer-decide-which-marketing-is-best-with-a-b-testing
Adam Wingate  Hs

As marketers, we like to think we know what customers are looking for, but do we? Do we really?

It’s impossible for a marketer to understand the nuances of every segment of every target market for a wide range of products. Consumer preferences can change based on demographics, location, age and myriad other factors. Lack of understanding in a specific market forces us to make “gut decisions” based on our personal experiences and allowing our own bias to interfere with the marketing message.

We can minimize these unconscious biases using data. A data-driven approach improves the marketing message and provides a roadmap to reaching marketing and business goals. When creating and refining marketing strategies with data and analysis, we better understand customer preferences and can produce more effective marketing messages.

How to use data to make marketing decisions

Any marketing campaign begins and ends with goals. For more on defining goals, see Mike Reed’s most recent blog post: Analytics: Not Just for Geeks Anymore. After we understand our marketing and business goals, a great way to start removing unconscious bias is gathering data with A/B testing. A/B testing is when we create two iterations of our marketing materials and present them both to customers to see which more effectively produces the desired result. This way, we learn about consumer preferences through their actions and can effectively remove guesswork or bias from the marketing campaign using data to back our strategic decisions.

When creating A/B tests, we start with a null hypothesis to test against. Testing a null hypothesis is something everyone may remember from 11th-grade science, but it isn’t usually something that’s associated with a marketing campaign. A sample marketing null hypothesis could be “a contact form with four fields will have a higher conversion rate than a form with eight fields.” Once we have the hypothesis, we test to prove or disprove it. One common A/B testing strategy is using an incumbent and challenger, where the null hypothesis is compared to a control variable. Comparing the null hypothesis to the control, the goal is to make incremental improvements to our marketing goals with each test, declare a winner and then create a new null hypothesis to test. Each time, we create a hypothesis about how we can improve our marketing goals and try to make incremental improvements to the campaign.

Why test if we’re already getting good results?

With a specific schedule and deliberate testing, incremental improvements add up over time to provide a boost in campaign performance. Even a small increase in conversion rate can add up to a large increase in results over time. For example, in 2007, the Obama campaign increased its email signup rate on a landing page from 8.26% to 11.6% using A/B landing page tests. The difference in conversion rate across the entire campaign added up to an additional 2,880,000 email address collected. Extrapolated out based on average donation of $21 per email, this difference added up to $60 million in additional donations to the campaign just by optimizing the landing page for conversion using A/B testing!

How do we do A/B testing?

Martech is continually evolving, and we’re lucky to have new technologies available for testing on a larger scale than ever before. There are new technologies available that can help create hypotheses, simultaneously handle multiple tests, split advertising traffic between creative versions and report results. We can test almost any element of an integrated marketing campaign to find opportunities for improvement, including tests for:

  • — Landing page design
  • — Call to action
  • — Form length and field
  • — Ad copy
  • — Email design
  • — Subject lines
  • — Images vs. videos 

When starting a new campaign, we follow industry best-practice data. However, each campaign and client is different, and this is where the data we collect through A/B testing can help us continually optimize a campaign while it’s running. Using a data-driven approach and scientific method to gather our data, we can create more actionable insights, make better decisions and ultimately deliver better results on our clients’ marketing and business goals.

Adam Wingate is a digital analyst at Dixon Schwabl, responsible for SEO and web analytics. To learn more about our martech capabilities, contact Adam at Adam_Wingate@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[A Content Marketer goes to a Cocktail Party]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketing-or-cocktail-party https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketing-or-cocktail-party
Andrew Knoblack  Hs

Content marketing is a lot like telling a great story at a cocktail party.

Let me set the scene for you, and for the sake of this party let’s lay on the elegance. In a parlor on East Avenue, a bartender behind an oak bar serves a Finger Lakes Riesling to one guest and a Manhattan to another. Women circulate the room in flowing dresses, the men in black ties. A mixture of laughter, clinking glasses and a string quartet set the mood.

That’s when you walk in. Let’s freeze here, shall we?

Your goal is to have a great time, meet new people and enjoy a drink. Much like content marketing, you’re not here to bring the boredom. Your stories need to entertain those listening. In this context, “entertain” is broad. It can mean laughter, tears, gasps, clapping or a smirk to rival that of Leonardo Dicaprio’s in The Wolf on Wall Street.

This probably isn’t the best place to tell a story about the inner workings of a rotary telephone (though there is a time and place for that as well). Remember, you’re at a party. You only have someone’s attention for so long.

But before you can entertain them, you need to understand your audience. What drives them? What scares them? What motivates them? At the beginning of each day, they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. They have mortgages. They have good days and bad. In short, they are people. So yes, you need to understand how to entertain them, but there’s something more important that needs to happen.

Talk to them like a real person. This is where marketers sometimes fall short. They use “buzz words” or industry terms that aren’t relatable to most people. Instead of forcing business jargon, focus on being relatable and relevant. If you find a guest who loves Game of Thrones, drop your favorite Jon Snow conspiracy theories instead of forcing a conversation about KPIs and Facebook’s latest whatever. Talk to them about what they’re interested in and build that relationship.

Building relationships is the whole kit and caboodle in content marketing. You (or your brand) becomes a trusted source of information. Someone will then decide to opt in to you so they can continue to hear from you on the subjects they care about. Once it is time for them to purchase a product in your vertical (even if it’s not for two years) they will most likely come to you first because you’ve worked hard to build that trust.

Sidebar, how great would it be to have an opt out option at a party?

Need an example of building loyalty? Let’s take my favorite grocery store, and potentially the greatest place on earth, Wegmans. Menu Magazine is published two or three times per year and is packed with recipes, stories and more. Story after story, Wegmans provides shoppers like me useful information that will help me lead a healthier life. Why would I shop anywhere else? It’s a long-lasting relationship that Wegmans will be able to capitalize on.

Grab your drink, tip the bartender and go tell a great story. Find what’s relevant to your audience, entertain them, treat them like real people and build fruitful relationships.

Andrew Knoblauch is a content marketing and social media supervisor here at Dixon Schwabl. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewKnoblauch) and hear him on our One More Thing podcast.

<![CDATA[Content Marketing's Growth on Display at #CMWorld]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketings-growth-on-display-at-cmworld https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/content-marketings-growth-on-display-at-cmworld
Andrew Knoblack  Hs

Cleveland — nestled on the shores of Lake Erie — is home to arguably the greatest basketball player of all time (no, I haven’t spotted LeBron James in the flesh), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (yes, I’m a Rick Astley fan) and Content Marketing World 2017 (where people wear lots and lots of orange).

And that’s why I’m here: to soak in all the content juiciness. My colleague Merritt Ward is here, as well, and you’ll hear from her later as she recaps the whole event. But right now, I want to talk about claustrophobia.

Mine has kicked into full gear, folks. From the moment we left our hotel on St. Clair Avenue, a 5-minute walk from the conference, I couldn’t help but notice … there are a lot of people here.

Walking into my first session, a masterclass on Google Analytics, I was again taken aback by the number of people in the room. Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina, the speaker, even commented: “This is more than I usually get for this topic.”

So there I am, feeling closed in, wondering why there are so many people here. That’s when Crestodina said something that will always stick with me. It almost snapped me back into focus, like a giant bell was ringing.

“I don’t need opinions. I have data.”

Whoa. That was just the first of many powerful quotes. That got me wondering, perhaps data could help me explain why there are so many people here.

My opinion: Content marketing is on the rise. The data?

  • An estimated 3,500 people are attending #CMWorld this year to listen to 225 speakers for a combined 123 hours (CMWorld)
  • 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content (Curata)
  • 18% of companies allocate 10% of their budget (excluding headcount) to content marketing (LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community)
  • The marketing software market is expected to grow to more than $32.3 billion in 2018. It will be one of the fastest-growing areas in high tech, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% (IDC)
  • 42.5% of companies said they were increasing their content marketing staff levels in 2016 (Curata)

Casey Neistat

There are so many ways for consumers to digest content. As Casey Neistat said during his keynote on Wednesday, “Marketing needs to cut through the bullsh*t.” He proved how he did it for Nike when he took their huge video production budget, traveled the world and made this sweet movie (see below). Nike said it didn’t understand it, but wanted to give it a shot. The YouTube video has 26 million views and Neistat recently sold his company to CNN for $25 million.

But it’s more than just YouTube views or engagement. Content marketing (done well) is a real conversation that has depth and meaning to someone. Done very well, that conversation turns into a fruitful relationship where brands are no longer just part of the noise but more like a trusted advisor who happens to sell a product. Ask my wife and she’ll contend that my relationship with Apple is almost too deep.

Joe Pulizzi

It’s why 92% of marketers said their organization views content as a business asset (Content Marketing Institute). It doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes it’s about setting the right expectations. Check out Dixon Schwabl’s Vice President of Content Marketing & Social Media Jon Alhart’s piece about why expectations are important.

But it all makes sense why so many people are here. Content marketing is not just the future, but very much the present … and marketers are adjusting. The data doesn’t lie.

I hope content marketing has a pretty big bandwagon, because a lot of people are hopping on. As the godfather of content marketing, Mr. Joe Pulizzi said, “Right here, right now is the best time to be a marketing professional.”

Andrew Knoblauch is content marketing and social media supervisor here at Dixon Schwabl. A modern creative-data hybrid. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewKnoblauch) and hear him on our One More Thing podcast.

Photo Credits:
Main Stage: Michael Rizzo, via Twitter (@RizzoMB)
Casey Neistat: Andrew Knoblach
Joe Pulizzi: Patrick Shepherd, via Twitter (@PatrickShepherd)

<![CDATA[7 Web Design Trends We Love (Plus a Few We Hate)]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/7-web-design-trends-we-love-plus-a-few-we-hate https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/7-web-design-trends-we-love-plus-a-few-we-hate
Michael Foster Hs

Web design is constantly evolving as designers find exciting (and sometimes annoying) ways to garner eyeballs, keep you interested, and convert sales. Here are seven web design trends we love, plus a few we could do without.

1. Fully-responsive, device-friendly sites

We love sites that look good on any device, including desktops, mobile, and everything in between; there are a lot of folks out there that swipe around on iPads all day long, never once glancing at a computer monitor. When it comes to making a website responsive, we’re fans of CSS media queries, vw and vh units, calc(), flexbox, and grid. Flexbox allows you to easily align and center content without floats or a fancy CSS framework. Grid is the next big thing. Combined with media queries it’s even more flexible than Flexbox because you can completely reorder content for different screen sizes. Grid doesn’t have the browser support we’d like just yet, but we’re excited about the possibilities.

2. Background videos

If background images are worth a thousand words, background videos are worth a million. People love video and if used in the right way, a background video can help set your site apart. Take our home page for example which features a full screen background video of the Dixon Schwabl workplace. You’ll feel like you’re really in the office with us while you browse our site. Another fine example is the New York State Wine Festival home page which, if you scroll down, features wine being poured from a bottle into a glass. There’s something satisfying about watching that glass fill up with wine that you wouldn’t get from a static image.

3. Call-to-action bars that follow you

If you want your website visitors to take action, make sure they don’t lose sight of it. We recently crafted some hard to miss call-to-action bars for Frontier’s FiOS fiber optic internet landing page. The CTA bar directs the user to call or shop online and stays at the top of page as you scroll.

4. More authentic photos, fewer stock photos

We want to see the real you! So, whip out that camera and take a few snaps. Or hire a photographer — a few professionally done photos can take your site to the next level. Customers love to see pictures of your products, your store, and other customers attending your events.

5. Location-based content

One-size-fits-all may work for baseball caps, but for websites, there is a big payback from delivering custom-tailored location-based content. Customized content helps your visitors find the information they need quickly. For example, the Vantage™ by Frontier microsite displays different home page banners, bundles and deals, and channel lineups based on user's location.

6. Fast-loading pages

No one likes a slow poke. Get your pages in high gear by using server page caches (we’ve seen a 1,393% improvement with FastCGI), image optimization software (ImageOptim free for Mac does wonders), and techniques to delay the loading of content that appears off screen or “below the fold.” We’ve been optimizing our CSS load times with CriticalCSS, too.

7. Integration of social media and marketing automation

You’ve got to stay fresh. Keep your site fresh by tapping into social media APIs to display your latest tweets, Instagram posts, and Facebook updates right on your web pages. On the flip side, potential customers may be living on social networks — are you taking advantage of those platforms for advertising? We are. We recently became a Marketo Premier Digital Services Partner and we’re utilizing their software to better target customers for our clients on social networks.

And now a few trends we could do without…

Hiding everything under a hamburger menu. We know this type of menu works great for mobile devices and can result in a very clean look for desktops. But ultimately it makes it more difficult for your users to find content. Some users may not even realize the menu is there and just leave your site in frustration.

Web browser push notifications. These are popular on mobile devices and perhaps even useful when used sparingly. Now they are becoming increasingly popular on your desktop web browser. But we live in an age of constant interruption. Let’s save the notifications for only the really important stuff, ok?

Pop-up ads. We just got to your site and no, we don’t want to subscribe to your newsletter already. Sorry.

Long loading screens. You should never have to wait for a web site to load with a 45 Mbps connection. Ever.

Michael Foster is a Senior Web Developer at Dixon Schwabl and experienced jetpack pilot. True Story. 

<![CDATA[Analytics: Not just for Geeks Anymore]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/analytics-not-just-for-geeks-anymore https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/analytics-not-just-for-geeks-anymore
Mike Reed  Hs

Use of the term “marketing analytics” has been on an upward trajectory for the past 10 years, but it’s much more than a buzzword. The practice of marketing analytics is a vast topic that encompasses data, technology and skills to inform marketing decision-makers. Business leaders around the world are demanding more from their chief marketing officers (CMOs). The mass marketing Mad Men days of the 1960s, when all decisions were based on inclination, are over.

Today’s CMOs are directly responsible for their return on investment (ROI). Every touchpoint along the customer journey becomes subjected to scrutiny. CMOs are left with two options to maximize revenue and reduce costs:

  1. They can cut their marketing budget, staff and salary. (Wrong answer.)
  2. They can get smart with their marketing by letting data tell their story through insights and analytics. (Bingo!)

Marketing analytics help decision-makers quantify costs and benefits, weigh outcomes and determine the risk associated with specific tactics. We are very fortunate to have an abundance of data at our fingertips. Mining the data and pulling out insights that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye is the job of the data analyst.

I often get asked: As marketers, what do we need to measure? To answer this question, I’d like to reference the visionary author and speaker Simon Sinek. In this TED talk, Sinek discusses his theory of The Golden Circle, the idea of starting with why, not what.

When I get the question, what do we need to do? I ask, why are we doing it?

Why do analytics matter to CMOs?

Clicks and impressions and bounce rates, oh, my!

Every day, marketers report on key performance indicators (KPIs) that might not matter to their business. I love this example outlined in the 2013 Adobe Analytics advertisement Click, Baby, Click! In this short video, the employees of an encyclopedia company get excited when they see clicks skyrocket. “We’re back!” shouts the CEO. This action triggers a series of events that affects multiple economies. But the employees failed to do one thing. They didn’t ask why the click rate was so high — spoiler alert for those who want to watch the video — a baby is hyper-clicking the “order” button on the encyclopedia’s website, displayed on a tablet. “He really loves that thing,” says the baby’s mom.

How do we use analytics to show marketing value and uncover opportunities?

When we clearly know why we are doing something, it’s easier to define how we are going to do it. Marketing pros are interested in analytics because we want to prove our worth. We must show ROI to grow next year’s budget. How do we do that? By analyzing ourcustomer’s journey from their point of view. Understanding how a customer navigates through touchpoints can help us deliver a better experience by reaching the right person at the right place and right time.

Right Person

Identify your target audience before you begin your marketing quest. Using market research will help you build a persona for each of your ideal customers. The personas should include demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals. The more detailed you can be at this point, the more insightful your analytics will be when it’s time for reporting.

Right Place

Be where your audience is. The digital landscape has an ever-expanding canvas of channels, pages and platforms where customers spend their time. Develop and deliver highly targeted content on the sites and apps your customers visit every day.

Right Time

Timing is everything when it comes to marketing and sales. I’ve received many direct-mail pieces, emails and phone calls from car dealerships lately. Those sales people identified me as a qualified lead, ready to buy a car. They’re right about some things. I am interested in the cars they’re selling, and they found channels that I’m paying attention to. But they didn’t have the timing right. With a little bit of research, they could have learned that I bought a car six months ago and I’m not ready to buy another vehicle. They’re wasting time and money by targeting me with their ineffective marketing. They’d be better off setting a timer to start marketing to me in a year or two.

To combat the critical “right time” metric, we use a tool called lead scoring. Quantifying a customer's behavior helps us more accurately understand their interest in a product. Buyer intent becomes a tangible indicator for positioning within the customer journey.

What tasks are necessary to accurately measure KPIs, goals and attribution?

This is the important work marketing analysts do every day. From tagging web pages with tracking pixels to building UTM parameters for all inbound links. Marketing analysts are focused on determining multi-touch attribution across all digital platforms. They pay close attention to KPIs that focus on ROI. Conversion metrics like cost per lead by channel, cost per opportunity and customer lifetime value help inform the revenue-driven decisions mandated from the top down.  

When marketing professionals understand why their marketing plan is supporting the larger organizational goals, it becomes easy to determine which metrics matter. Defining how your team is going to reach the goal becomes obvious through the defined customer journey. Determining which metrics matter will become clear, even before your campaign begins.

Do you have more questions about marketing analytics or need help getting started? Contact us today.

Mike Reed is our Manager of Analytics & Automated Marketing and advocate for working both smarter and harder. You can contact him at michael_reed@dixonschwabl.com.


<![CDATA[30 Years of Making It Happen]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/30-years-of-making-it-happen https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/30-years-of-making-it-happen
Mike Schwabl  Hs

Dixon Schwabl is celebrating 30 years of successfully serving clients across the US. Wow.

However, if you’re reading this blog to discover some secret to that business success, I’m not sure I can give you a definitive answer. I can tell you that to succeed in any venture, you have to have an incredible belief in yourself and those around you.

I think that’s what has amazed me most over the past 30 years, starting with the moment I met Lauren Dixon. Here was this single mom and former TV personality from Rochester starting a business from her son’s converted bedroom, hiring a basically unemployed photojournalist from Buffalo to handle creative for her new agency.

“I need to hire someone to produce weekly half-hour TV programs for two of my three new clients,” said the woman who landed those three clients within 48 hours of starting her agency. “Can you do it?”

“Of course I can,” I replied in a heartbeat, never having produced a single video in my life. But hey, if you’ve ever met Lauren, you know her confidence is contagious.

So there it was born. An attitude that anything is possible and that we would do anything it takes to make it happen for our clients. Thirty years later, while I dare say our marketing expertise has been honed through vast experience, that confident attitude is still at the heart and soul of all we do. And you’ll find it driving the 120+ marketing professionals we are honored to have on our Dixon Schwabl team.

Together, we’ve learned that there is no recipe for success in business. But there are ingredients. Three of those are trial, error and trust. You have to invest in trying and learning new things to stay relevant. You have to be willing to fail, no matter how painful. And you have to trust the people around you to give it their all and make it happen.

It’s a formula that’s worked pretty well for 30 years and one that leaves me with the same feeling I had after that first half-hour TV program aired. Wow.  

Mike Schwabl is president of Dixon Schwabl and the personification of our slogan—We Make it Happen. His name’s on the building, but, more importantly, his heart is inside of it. 

<![CDATA[DS Digital High Five: Ad-vantage Digital]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/ds-digital-high-five-ad-vantage-digital https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/ds-digital-high-five-ad-vantage-digital
Scott Hs

It’s been a busy few weeks in the wide world of digital marketing. Here are a few of the things that have folks talking at Dixon Schwabl:

Google and Facebook now make more from ads than every newspaper, magazine and radio network in the world combined. 

That stat takes a minute to sink in. At first, it seems only natural. These tech giants have been on a marketing tear, while traditional media like print and broadcast have been in steady decline. Then you start to think about what that really means. This is two companies in a relatively new space now grossing more ad revenue than three major media categories that have been around for decades. Keep in mind that there are more than 15,000 radio stations, 7,300 magazines and 1,300 daily newspapers in the US alone. Google will make nearly $81 billion selling ads this year. That’s more than the GDP of most countries. Facebook will bring in more than $36 billion, and these two together are getting roughly 83% of all new ad dollars worldwide. Their growth is far from over.

Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
This one is a big deal for a lot of reasons. First off, unlike some of its peers, Amazon isn’t known for massive acquisitions (Zappos.com was its second-largest at $1.2 billion). That tells us that Amazon sees a really big play here. Will it incorporate Amazon Go technology in these stores? Will it use Amazon Fresh to deliver Whole Foods goods to your doorstep? In any case, it’s clear that your groceries will come with a healthy side of data in the not-too-distant future. Amazon evidently sees the grocery business as ripe for disruption, and it’s probably a safe bet that the way we buy food is about to change forever.

Facebook now has 2 billion monthly users.
This really speaks for itself. Roughly 28% of all people on the planet use Facebook at least once a month. Nearly 80% of these users live outside of the US. This may be the global village Marshall McLuhan never could have imagined.

Google got an unprecedented fine in the EU.
Adding to its ongoing problems in Europe, Google just got slapped with a record-shattering $2.7 billion fine for favoring its own shopping services in search results over those of rivals. That is not a typo: billion with a b. How Google responds to this will say much about its future posture with government bodies around the world who seem to be increasingly uncomfortable with its market dominance.

Snapchat has dramatically expanded its advertising capabilities, joining the likes of Google and Facebook in rolling out a self-serve ad platform.
Like those larger players, Snapchat will no longer require a minimum buy, and you can pay with a credit card, making it instantly accessible to tens of thousands of small businesses. The social app is also rolling out a publisher platform to help marketers convert existing brand assets into Snapchat formats and a certified partners program that will allow ad tech companies to buy tools for optimizing Snapchat ads. These platform investments seem to be a reaction to disappointing ad revenue since Snapchat went public earlier this year. It will be very interesting to see how this impacts advertiser adoption.

Note: The DS Digital High Five is a periodic distillation of digital marketing news and trends that are impacting our industry and shaping the way we Make It Happen here at Dixon Schwabl.

The Answer: This VP of digital media and Jeopardy aficionado uses digital media tools and tactics to help companies get the word out about what they do to the people who are most likely to act. The Question: Who is Scott Ensign?

<![CDATA[Proof is in the Proofing]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/proof-is-in-the-proofing https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/proof-is-in-the-proofing
Jen M

Things aren’t going so well inside The Gray Lady right now. More than 100 newsroom staffers recently walked out of The New York Times to protest massive cuts to the paper’s copy editing staff. They came from every floor, making their way to the street and chanting pro-editor slogans. (So if those are a thing now, sign me up?)

Why the very public show of solidarity? Because editing still matters, and they know it.

They carried some awesome signs:

“Copy editors save our buts.”

“Without us, it’s the New Yrok Times.”

“This sign wsa not edited.”

They’re right, of course. Editors are part human spellcheckers, walking encyclopedias and real-life Google. We wear those badges with pride and no shame. But the things you see—the spelling, grammar and punctuation—are ultimately the smallest part of what editors do. It’s the things you don’t see that matter most.

One sign at the Times walkout said it perfectly: “Who do you think makes sure it’s fit to print?”

At its core, an editor’s job is to make your work even better. We’re here to help. And sure, that often means adding commas and fixing spelling—those are, after all, the first things readers and customers will catch if we miss them. But day in and day out, we also compile style guides to make sure every piece is consistent from front to back and across campaigns. We make mental lists of even the smallest details for future reference. We make sentences easier to read, help tell stories in the right order, pull the most important information to the top, flag things that might confuse readers, dismantle and rebuild copy, and reach back through years of editing to remind people of obscure requests.

Even the tiniest edits often come from one of those mental lists. About two years ago, a client asked that we change “stop in” to “stop into” on an ad. To this day, that tiny phrase gets automatically checked on every piece we do for them, making sure they never had to ask twice. Think of us as little detail-oriented mental personal assistants.

Copy editors (hopefully) don’t come to a job with delusions of being better than their writers, PR pros, designers or account executives. We definitely don’t think we know a client’s business or industry better than they do. And against all stereotypes, we actually kind of hate having to tell people their copy needs some work or their layout is hard to follow. Because it turns out, the best work happens in a place of mutual value and trust between editors and the people who get the copy into their hands.

When asked about his paper’s cuts, Times staffer Bill Baker said, “We are hoping management sees that what they are doing from the structural perspective is detrimental to the integrity of the newspaper.” The Times pushback came because employees know a company’s integrity and credibility lie in its quality. And those things come from the resources you have in place.

At Dixon Schwabl, we’re lucky to have a management team that chose to make an investment in editing not once, but three times over, recognizing the importance of accuracy, clean copy, years of mental notes and even mad Google skills. And that investment is passed directly to our clients, whose work never makes it out the door without someone hitting the pause button and making sure it’s good to go. Every single day, that step catches something that would have been embarrassing or costly. And that’s the hidden value of copy editors.

Jen Moritz is a Senior Copy Editor. Translation: Jen Moritz is an expert butt-saver who makes good work great and great work special. 

<![CDATA[Information is Power(ful)]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/information-is-powerful https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/information-is-powerful

It’s a daunting feeling when you walk into a store and know what you need but have no idea where it is. This is as true for big-box warehouses as it is for websites, only with websites you can click to the next store in a matter of seconds. Customers aren’t stuck there, and they know it. So if they can’t find the right virtual aisle in the first 30 seconds—regardless of whether exactly what they’re looking for is three clicks away—they’re checking out, and not in the good way.

Adding marketing automation technology to your website is like giving your prospective customers a loyal and tireless butler. Think Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s caretaker. Alfred knows what Bruce Wayne wants and needs, and he uses that knowledge to keep Batman in superhero form. Likewise, marketing automation technology dramatically improves your customers’ experience with your brand and makes it easier for you to build long-lasting, meaningful relationships with them.

Take a moment to think about how new customers decide to reach out to a business for the first time. Maybe they hear about a company from a colleague or they click on an ad or they do an internet search. Without marketing automation, they need to search through your content and try to find the information that is most useful and relevant. If it takes more than a few moments, they’ll abandon their search and look elsewhere.

With marketing automation, businesses can plan their unique customer journey in advance and welcome them at the door. And as the customer interacts with your site, you collect information—name, email address, phone number, job title, etc.—that allows you to cater to them even more. Based on their profile, you can serve them useful content to prompt more engagement and you can continue to build out their profiles as they interact.

All of this information adds up to measurable potential of that person becoming a customer —a lead score you assign them based on their behavior. As the behavior increases, the score improves. You can test which information they find most useful and in what format—video, interactive media, articles, infographics, etc. After they leave, you can serve them ads, text messages and emails to entice them to come back and learn more.

When their lead score is high enough, your sales reps can make warm calls rather than cold calls armed with information that can dramatically increase the chances of closing a sale. The entire system gets better and more personalized over time, continuously and automatically filling the sales pipeline with qualified leads.

The goal of marketing automation is simple—make it as easy as possible for your prospective customers to feel confident about choosing your product or service over your competitor’s. And the results can make you look like a superhero. There’s no way Batman could act quickly to save the day without Alfred sending him information from the Batcave.

Director of Marketing Technologies and Systems Cathleen Wells has a wealth of experience in digital strategy, Web development and online marketing. Have a question for her? Send an email to cathleen_wells@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[An Event Producer’s Guide to Putting Out Fires (Literally)]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/an-event-producers-guide-to-putting-out-fires-literally-1 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/an-event-producers-guide-to-putting-out-fires-literally-1

Last October, I was working at an event where the main entertainment went up in flames minutes before it was scheduled to venture out into the crowd. I’m talking full-on, “turn the sprinkler system off quick before the exhibitor booths, activity stations and high-end sponsors get soaked” flames.

Did I mention the entertainment was a 9-foot robot and the event was an international conference?

After we extinguished the flames and lugged the large piece of metal outside through the dock doors (and pulled out all the industrial-sized fans we could find), I apologized to our client and assured her she would not be charged, thanked the venue profusely for not kicking me out, canceled our payment to the vendor and prepared for the onslaught of incoming conference attendees that would be none the wiser, all with an external smile.

Our team has also experienced floral centerpieces dying minutes after they were placed on tables the afternoon of an event, WiFi crashing while registering 800 guests, and not gaining access to the ballroom until two hours prior to doors opening. And if we, as event producers, are doing our jobs correctly, our guests (and often our clients) will never know the difference. Event planners are notorious for their attention to detail, perfected timelines, relationships with vendors, venues and clients, and overall not-messing-around standards of excellence. They’re also known for their ability to adapt and flawlessly execute their Plan B, C or even D as naturally as if it were Plan A.

Here are the DS Events team’s top five ways to keep your cool when things beyond your control are taking an unanticipated turn:

1) Stop, breathe, grab a Diet Coke (or water or coffee, whatever your beverage of choice happens to be) and embrace your new event reality with enthusiasm. If you’re confident about your new direction, your clients, coworkers, volunteers and guests will be, too. —Shannon

2) Remember you’re the pro. This is what you live for. You solve problems like it’s your job—because it is your job. Course correct, come up with a plan, and ask for help from anyone and everyone who can make your new plan come to fruition (and fast). If all else fails, lather on the Peace & Calming and Stress Away essential oils! —Kathy Phelps

3) Surround yourself with fantastic people who know you and your business well. Not every event planner has the luxury of a full team, but you can develop a solid support system by initiating and nurturing relationships with key vendors in AV, rentals, food and beverage, and décor. Take them out to lunch to learn more about what they do and what their specialties are. Compare event industry trends and upcoming event ideas and challenges. And always send thank-you notes when they show up at your event with 40 additional chairs and extra linens or two wireless mics you had to add an hour prior to doors opening. (Cookies work well, too.) —Jenna Van Thof

4) Assess the situation objectively and respond with flexibility—especially when it comes to the small stuff. You may have had your heart set on crisp white linens and be crushed when they arrive in ivory. However, the success of the event does not hinge on the slight change in color. So don’t give up your sanity for the change, either. And in the mood-lit ballroom, chances are none will be the wiser. —Erin O’Donnell

5) Always look for the lesson. You can always learn something from challenging situations. —Collective Advice

Relax. You got this.

Associate Vice President of Special Events Shannon E. Struzik has 20 years of experience putting out fires. I mean, putting on events. Have a question for her? Send an email to shannon_struzik@dixonschwabl.com.

<![CDATA[The Language Gardener]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/the-language-gardener https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/the-language-gardener
Jen M

I’ve been called a lot of things in my 15 years as an editor: gatekeeper, defender, style guru, person you should avoid if you want to use a serial comma, nerd, expert, has-to-be-right-all-the-timer …

I mean, they aren’t all wrong. But earlier this year, I had the chance to spend a few days with 600 other editors at The Society for Editing’s annual conference. And there, I was called something new: a gardener.

James Harbeck, “a professional word taster and sentence sommelier”—things I will never be called, but wow, I want to be—had a lot to say about editors’ roles. Not just how they study the language of today, but how they help shape it going forward. And that’s key: forward motion. Editors as gardeners, not defenders.

It’s true that part of our job will always be pulling language into existing rules, but much more so, our job is to help English—and copy—get where it’s going. To watch as it evolves, decide what to let through the gate, and help build a body of work that lexicographers will use when choosing what to record to reflect usage. It’s how things like face-palm and side-eye made their way into Merriam-Webster. Over time, editors saw value in those words and phrases, leaving them in edited copy and marking their place in English’s history. So when it came time for the dictionary to roll out a new batch of definitions, those words made the cut—editors had given them the OK to make their mark on the language.

It was inspiring to see how many hands shot up when Harbeck asked a room full of editors whether they’d allow some unconventional uses into copy. Things like singular they, impact, nauseous, hopefully and other old-school editing taboos overwhelmingly passed the 2017 editing test. (But sorry, irregardless, “my head literally exploded” and “very unique” are still right out.)

Does that mean editors can’t have their rules and pet-peeves? Of course not. I hold rigidly tight to the differences between last and past, which and that, awhile and a while, because all editing leans on a degree of personal style. Those preferences are how I’m choosing to tend to my little plot of the English language. They’re how I’m influencing and tending to an ever-growing body of work.

English evolves, it changes, it expands, and someone has to help it get where it’s going. For me to dig in my heels, stick to a set of rules that were set decades ago and neglect my role as a gardener would be a disservice to my gatekeeper, defender, style guru, person you should avoid if you want to use a serial comma, nerd, expert, has-to-be-right-all-the-timer reputation—and to this mess of a language I love so much.

Plus, it’s always fun to go along for a good ride. As Harbeck so rightly said, “The entire English language is a slippery slope. We are all tumbling down it faster than we realize.”

Senior Copy Editor Jen Moritz pulls the weeds out of our writing on an e’ry day basis, and somehow does it without making you feel like dirt. 

<![CDATA[When In Doubt, Take The Slide]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/when-in-doubt-take-the-slide https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/when-in-doubt-take-the-slide

We’ve all heard it. Some of us have even said it before coming to work here. Because when someone mentions Dixon Schwabl to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, they somehow know at least one thing:

“Oh, yeah … that place with the slide!”

If our reputation at Dixon Schwabl precedes us, The Slide precedes our reputation. It’s a symbol that says infinitely more about who we are than what we do, and that is so us. It’s our crest, our flag, our Bat Signal and our jersey all at once. It tells someone a LOT, yet entices them to learn more. And once that person digs deeper and sees the three decades of innovation, success and growth, they realize that not only does Dixon Schwabl have a slide—we do some stellar work.

The Slide is the ultimate conversation piece. Legend has it that the architects didn’t take the fiercely fun-loving Lauren Dixon seriously when she said to put a slide in the lobby. After three versions of blueprints that featured no slide, she had to call the builder and insist it was no joke. She didn’t see it as a gimmick or a lame attempt to look cool. This was pre-Google. Dixon Schwabl did it before it was cool.

Recently, it was decided that our blog needed a name (something more creative than Blog), and we spent days throwing ideas around. Pages were devoted to brainstorm sessions, resulting in the recurring question of “How does this place have a slide but not a single giant whiteboard?”

Maybe something with the initials D-S: Do Stuff? Doing Stuff? Don’t Stop? No, just stop.

Something with Brand: Raisin’ Brand? Brand [New], Wry & Brandy? To be honest, all three of those were Top 10 material, but a bit too punny.

What if we repurpose an industry term: Reach? Impressions? The High Level? Not bad, but these can come from anyone. How would anyone know it’s us?

Something ridiculous: The DS BS? Dixon Bloggl? Really let it get away from us for a bit there.

We stressed over it, held extremely unscientific polls and returned to the metaphorical drawing board frustrated, asking, yet again, “How does this place have a slide but not a single giant whiteboard?!”

And that’s when we realized we didn’t need the whiteboard, because we already had The Slide.

Now, The Slide is how we tell our story. As a blog, it’s how we let people in to see not just who we are, but what we do. It can be traditional and innovative, consistent and spontaneous, strategic and creative, buttoned up and untucked all at the same time. Most of all, it’s a reminder to ourselves and to anyone who reads it: If you’re not having fun, all you’re doing is work. 

Paul Gangarossa and Pete Wayner are curators of and regular contributors to The Slide. That said, the bright, talented members of the DS team across all departments are the stars of this space.

<![CDATA[@realDonaldTrump or @POTUS?]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/realdonaldtrump-or-potus https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/realdonaldtrump-or-potus

Below is an intra-office conversation via Slack between Andrew Knoblauch, social and digital supervisor; Adam Sisson, social media account executive; Jake Ziegler, social media manager; and Paul Gangarossa, PR Executive. 

andrew [9:05 AM]
Alright guys, it’s Inauguration Day and President-elect Donald Trump will become America’s 45th Commander-in-Chief. Fox News is reporting that Trump will not change his Twitter handle to @POTUS opting instead to keep @realDonaldTrump. What do you all think of the move?

adam_sisson [9:07 AM] 
As far as personal branding is concerned, I think it's a smart move. Part of the "Donald" brand is just what his Twitter handle says - being real. He prides himself on not being like other presidents before him, and a big part of his campaign was to knock the "shady" decisions of classic politicians. But at what point does he have to put his personal brand aside and change it to being the leader of our country?

paulgangarossa [9:08 AM] 
Sounds about right. Any chance he can make something his own, he's going to take it. It's been his MO so far and it's not about to change. Agreed, it's another slap in the face of presidential precedents, one that's specific to Obama.

And it's hard to argue with it in this case. His following dwarfs the @potus account, and he's not one to use a smaller megaphone.

andrew [9:11 AM] 
Just to illustrate your point, Paul, here are some numbers. Trump’s following: 20.5 million; POTUS: 13.7 million. Roughly 7 million more people follow our future president.  I think one thing to think about is “who” those people are. We can assume many are American citizens, but to your point, is most of Trump’s following just his base?

Trump Twitter 2

paulgangarossa [9:13 AM]  I'm sure most is his base, but not by a ton. He's probably got a "Howard Stern Effect" where people who oppose him are some of his most engaged followers.

jake [9:16 AM]  I think the question real question is: does it actually matter? Twitter has been stagnant in growth. With just over 300 million users, it has almost 1 BILLION less active users than Facebook. Why should Donald Trump surrender millions of followers for a handle? It doesn’t make sense.

[9:17]   To build up such a large following on a channel that’s stagnant in growth is impressive. Surrendering those followers means that you lose a major amount of your voice.

adam_sisson [9:20 AM]  Trump's current followers may be mostly made up of his base, but as his presidency continues it should grow to include those on both sides. @BarackObama has 80.8M followers, which probably wasn't the case before he took over the office. No matter what the handle says, it's just a source for people to get the information they need about our country. And Jake I think you're right - it doesn't seem to make much sense to abandon such a strong account with a massive following.

paulgangarossa [9:21 AM]  He could just go and change his handle to something like @POTUSTrump or @realPOTUSTrump or @PresidentTrump or something like that. That would set a new precedent and keep his followers at the same time.

andrew [9:22 AM]  Caleb Gardner joined our podcast, he was part of Obama For America and helped orchestrate the president’s various social accounts during his tenure. My guess is he sent out more tweets than President Obama ever did. If I’m Trump, I’m letting my staff handle the @POTUS account.

adam_sisson [9:24 AM]  I think that's the big worry with Trump's personal account - no one is going to be monitoring what he's blasting off to the entire world. It's a little scary to think about.

andrew [9:25 AM]  And no one ever has … or will … *insert scary music*

adam_sisson [9:26 AM]  Let's prepare for 4 years of many cringe-worthy tweets

paulgangarossa [9:27 AM]  The bonus is that whenever his term is up, the next POTUS won't be saddled with his account. 

andrew [9:28 AM]  But, to play devil’s advocate, Trump effectively used social to help him win the election. He’d say whatever was on his mind to gain free media coverage and spent way less on traditional advertising than Hillary Clinton. There’s a NYT piece from October that outlines this pretty well. So, maybe he just wants to stick with that game plan?

paulgangarossa [9:31 AM]  As only he can, because there are plenty of politicians who have Twitter accounts that can't do what he did. This was a situation where his message outweighed the medium, causing it to spill over into traditional news. The tactic doesn't work without a message worth retweeting, liking or hating.

andrew [9:31 AM]  As Skip Bayless would say, “That’s deep and that’s true."

paulgangarossa [9:32 AM]  Bayless/Sharpe in 2020??

andrew [9:35 AM]  If presidential campaigns were decided by hot takes, they would definitely win. Alright, let’s wrap this up … fill in the blank: “If I was Donald Trump, in regards to the @POTUS handle I would ___________."

jake [9:36 AM]  “tweet until my fingers fall off"

andrew [9:37 AM]  Yeah, that’s how we should end it. Nice work, Jake.

adam_sisson [9:39 AM]  *slow claps while eating hot dog with American Flag waving in the background*

<![CDATA[Top 5 Social Media Trends in 2017]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/top-5-social-media-trends-in-2017 https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/top-5-social-media-trends-in-2017
Jon A

Social media is always changing. And, 2017 will be no different.  Certain trends—like Facebook’s continued algorithm changes, the rise of virtual reality, live video and the continued rapid growth of Snapchat—are expected for 2017. However, what are five social media trends you might not be expecting in the new year?

1) Twitter Nears Death: It’s almost time for Twitter to say bye bye. Stock is down 29% year to date. Top executives, like CTO Adam Messinger, are leaving. And users of the platform are not growing. Pew Research Center reports 24% of online adults use Twitter, up a whopping 1% from one year ago. When you combine these factors with the fact that Facebook ad buys perform substantially better than Twitter ad buys in terms of ROI, you can see why Twitter might not be around much longer. Twitter—at its best—is a real-time conversation platform. When tied to trending events, it’s an engaging platform. However, it simply doesn’t work well for what a lot of brands do—planned content.

2) The Rise of Messaging Apps: Facebook Messenger now allows brands to advertise within it. More than 50% of new Snapchat users are over the age of 25. 29% of smartphone owners use general-purpose messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Kik. More and more, customers will want to engage with companies in one-to-one ways—not publicly on their Facebook wall—but within messaging platforms. More companies will utilize bots to automatically respond to customers. And, more apps like Venmo will up the social commerce game, allowing friends to exchange money through social messaging. The content on your Facebook page will be as important as the responses you’re providing in platforms like Messenger.

3) Measuring Offline Sales: Thanks to advancements in Facebook's software, you can now link sales in your store to your Facebook ads. Through partnerships with point-of-sale systems like Square and Marketo, Facebook will be able to provide analytics of how views of Facebook content and ads lead to purchases and store visits. Basically, Facebook gets right into cash registers to pull real-time, in-person results. This ties nicely into the SoLoMo—Social, Local, Mobile—trend. Hyperlocal is a perfect match for social media success.

4) The Continued Rise of Paid Social: I’m still shocked more companies are not taking advantage of the power of paid social. For every $1 you spend on creating content, no one will see that content unless you spend $2 promoting it. You can target customers and new business leads in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, people who have visited specific pages on your website, and even a lookalike audience of your current email database. The targeting is precise and makes it easy to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. Why not utilize it more? According to Advertising Age, social media spending grew 55% in 2016 to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year's $7 billion. That number could hit $15 billion in 2017.

Pew Research 2016

5) One Channel May Be Enough: When social media burst on to the marketing scene, brands were like “we gotta have a Facebook page!” Pinterest came out— “we gotta be on Pinterest!” Instagram was unveiled— “we absolutely, positively must be on Instagram!” Snapchat— “we’re afraid of Snapchat but…well…should we be on there?” 2017 will be the year more brands finally incorporate social media into their overall business plans and marketing plans, which will lead them to ask the question, “which social media platforms will actually help us generate ROI?” They will be selective in the channels they are delivering content and advertising from, maximizing impact on those channels instead of having average to poor content spread across six different social media platforms. Please…please, get rid of your Google+ page. It doesn’t help with search engine optimization as much as you think it does.

One thing we can all agree on? Social media will continue to grow in 2017. It isn’t going anywhere—it’s just maturing a bit.

Jon Alhart is Vice President of Social and Digital Media and a recovering Buffalo Bills fan. He has the best laugh in the agency, capable of making everyone who hears it think they missed out on the funniest joke of the year.

<![CDATA[Tokens of Appreciation]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/tokens-of-appreciation https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/tokens-of-appreciation

In any given desk at Dixon Schwabl, you’ll find thumb drives, forgotten Tim Horton’s Roll-Up-the-Rim pieces ... maybe the occasional Rolodex. There’s something in common in most of them, too—a stack of white and red poker chips, with various initials Sharpied on their faces. We know what you’re thinking. And no, once the lights go out, DS employees don’t perform their own mashup of Fight Club and Rounders. (Oh, Ed Norton, take me away.) The impetus behind the chips is actually way cooler than the various cash denominations they represent.

We talk about collaboration a lot, about breaking down silos and bringing more people to the table. We practice it, and each time we do, we learn how much more room there is to improve. Whether it’s collaborating more with teammates in the same department, distant DS cousins who live on different floors, clients or even community partners, it’s a conversation. It’s an initiative. It’s a buzzword and it’s not altogether unique to Dixon Schwabl. Everybody’s talking about it. Some are doing it. Others are doing it well.

Whenever one DSer goes out of their way to help out another, a chip is typically given as a physical representation of gratitude. Sure, a simple “thank you” would suffice for anyone under this roof, but the idea (cooked up by the Workplace Wow Committee) is for everyone to have a cache of gratitude at their desk, in the form of these chips. The simple fact that they’re there reminds us to use them—to go a little out of our way to appreciate someone who went way out of theirs.

Chips are periodically turned in in exchange for beautifully designed DS swag, like growlers, scarves, patches and messenger bags. And that’s cool. But really, the value of the chips is in that tangible representation of something we often internally express, but sometimes struggle to put out there where it’s actually useful—gratitude.

And yes, of course it took roughly 20 seconds for plans of a chip black market to be laid out—I’ll give you all my chips for all of yours, then we can corner the market on fashionable accessories, eventually taking over the Greater Rochester scarf racket. But after that died down and chips actually started to be shared sincerely, an overwhelming spirit of appreciation took over.

What we’ve found is that chip giving isn’t limited to an obvious above-and-beyond scenario from an unexpected source. Random acts of collaboration or the simple acknowledgement of a job well done are now chip worthy. And while this may seem to devalue the chip, it hasn’t. Because the chip isn’t what’s valued—it’s the gesture.It’s nice to be thanked. It’s nice to thank others. When you have a reason to do so sitting in your drawer, it can make someone’s day (because they made yours). Then you both end up feeling like all that ... and a bag of chips.

Pete Wayner is the Content Manager, Paul Gangarossa is a PR Executive/Brand Journalist and both agree that drawing on walls is the key to creative thinking. 

<![CDATA[Quasimodo and Copywriting]]> https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/quasimodo-and-copywriting https://dixonschwabl.com/blog/quasimodo-and-copywriting
James Hs Final

I know—huh?

Stick with me. I recently attended a copywriting conference. I’m a relative newbie in the biz and the extra professional development was invaluable. It was fantastic. Many stories, anecdotes, pieces of advice and stale batches of convention center cookies were shared. Out of all the incredible insight I gained from writers who’d been at their craft far longer than I have, there was one powerful message that had a lasting impression. Let’s meet the main character.

Quasimodo, our friendly hunchback of Notre Dame, wanted to retire from bell-ringing. He put up a help-wanted ad in town and the next day was approached by an armless man. “I’m the guy for the job!” he said. “And don’t worry, I don’t need arms. When my head hits the bell, it’ll make the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear!” Quasimodo decided to give the man a chance.

When the two of them reached the top of the bell tower, the man with no arms wasted no time. He rammed his head straight into the bell. He was right, Quasimodo thought, it was the most beautiful sound he’d ever heard. The man turned around and said, “See! I told you I was perfect for the—” but before he could finish, the bell swung back and knocked him out of the tower. Two policemen quickly ran over to the body. Yeah. Things happen fast in this story.

“Do you know this man?” asked the first cop.

“Not his name,” replied the second cop. “But his face rings a bell.”

Huzzah! You’ve made it this far. Let’s keep going.

The next day, Quasimodo was approached by another armless man who promised he’d be a perfect fit for the job. He told Quasimodo that it was his brother who failed because he didn’t have a plan and forgot to dodge the bell on its backswing. He assured Quasimodo he knew the trick. Quasimodo told the man he’d give him a chance the next day.

To celebrate, the armless man went out and partied with friends, staying out very late. One of his friends suggested he go home and rest. “Nonsense!” said the armless man. “I could ring that bell in my sleep!”

The next morning, Quasimodo met the armless man at the top of the bell tower. The man with no arms was very tired, but he wasted no time. He rammed his head straight into the bell. It was the most beautiful sound Quasimodo ever heard. “Piece of cake!” yelled the armless man. “Now watch me move out of the—” but before he could finish, he tripped over his own tired legs. When the bell swung back, it knocked him out of the tower. Two policemen quickly ran over to the body.

“Do you know this man?” the first cop asked.

“Not his name,” said the second cop. “But he’s a dead ringer for his brother.”

Huzzah again!

OK. You’re asking yourself, How is this related to copywriting? The first man went in for the bell-ringing job eager and ready to go. As eager as he was, he didn’t have a plan and wasn’t ready for the backswing. No bueno. The second man said he had a plan for the backswing, but hubris got the best of him. No plan and too much pride aren’t the best strategies. Just ask Oedipus Rex.

Jobs can quickly pile up as a copywriter. If you take each job without taking the time to review the brief, ask questions or put thought into what you’re writing, it’s not going to impress anyone. Sure, you might get away with running head-first into a project sometimes, and you might feel so confident about a project that you put your head down and take it on alone. But chances are, the job will coming swinging back and knock you out of the tower.

What I learned from this story and all of the presenters at the conference is that success isn’t given. It’s earned. With careful planning, lots of collaboration with exceptionally talented people and a humble student-of-the-business attitude, you could be on your way to being a big can full of awesomeness. Follow these steps, knock the socks off a client, earn someone’s business, wow a creative director and totally be ready for the bell’s backswing.

I know I said this was about copywriting, but I should’ve said this is about life, business, sports, Black Friday Christmas shopping, you name it. And if you know any good bell-ringers, Quasimodo’s still looking.

James is a rising member of our copywriting team. Cash in on more of his musings on Twitter @JamesAshbery.