Jillian Warren

Digital Project Management & Communications

Page 8 of 8

Online First Impressions: Communicating the Right Message

May 11, 2010
Written for Viget Labs’ Four Labs Blog
Original Post

What do people think when they hear your name?

Every person, as well as every company, has a specific brand and reputation. There is a certain message you communicate about yourself through everything you say and do, and this message generates external expectations of your behavior and performance.

This is especially true online. Whether you’re an individual or a conglomerate, your website, social networks, and search results all convey a certain picture of who you are. When current or potential colleagues and clients want to learn more about you, this is the picture they see. You want to make sure that everything you put online supports this brand.

As Viget’s newest Project Manager, I faced a personal branding challenge right off the bat. In my first week, I was tasked with crafting my bio for the Viget.com Team page. In addition to my quirky photo shoot, I needed to carefully select and assemble the right words to communicate exactly who I am and what I do. That’s a pretty important task, if you really think about it.

For many current and future clients, this is my one chance at a first impression – my golden opportunity to accurately communicate my personal brand. Though we strongly encourage face-to-face meetings, sometimes an About page or employee bio acts as the first interaction between project team and client. If I set a false expectation of myself and my role at Viget, I’ll spend the rest of the relationship working to correct it.

The first step in any branding effort is to clearly define your message. Invest some time and thought into spelling out exactly what you do, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived. Make sure that you, and everyone in your organization, truly understand your greater purpose.

In planning my employee bio, I first thought about who I am, what makes me unique, and what I do for Viget and our clients. I also drew from my existing persona, conveyed through various social networks and everyday interactions. Then I wrote it all out. Translating your message into clear words and ideas is a crucial, but often overlooked, step in the process. It gives you a specific, concrete internal mission statement – something to refer to down the road, when you’re so caught up in details that you forget your overarching message.

After you’ve completed this phase, the next step is to live your brand. Do everything in your power to truly embody your message; let it shine through in your words and actions. Remember that the higher purpose of all your activity is to support this vision.

It may sound like a lot of effort for a seemingly small return, but if you start putting this type of thought behind all your interactions, think of what you can build! I’ve been aware of personal branding for a while now – and at this point, almost everything I do both personally and professionally naturally aligns with this reputation. I’m getting closer to the ultimate branding goal: to know exactly what comes to mind when someone hears my name.

How to Improve Your Bounce Rate

Google Analytics Bounce Rate

March 9, 2010
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

Bounce rate is one of the most important analytics metrics for your website. As Chris once explained it:

The bounce rate measures the number of visitors to a website that leave before a specified amount of time has elapsed (this time period varies among analytics tools, but typically it is 30 minutes). This means that if a user accesses your site and leaves it within 30 minutes or leaves their browser idle for that time, they will be registered as a bounce. The bounce rate for an individual page of a website is determined by the number of users that access a page and leave the site without clicking to another page within the specified time period.

When you‘re looking at specific pages on your site, especially in terms of the search keywords that bring visitors to those pages, bounce rate indicates the number of people who come to one landing page on your website and then leave without viewing any additional pages.

You should constantly strive to lower your bounce rate. The lower your bounce rate, the more people are digging deeper into your site’s content – and the more content they interact with, the more likely they are to convert or engage your company.

During my most recent screencast conversation with Brian, he showed me a great diagram he created that helps visually explain how to improve your bounce rate. Brian first noticed this concept by Avinash Kaushik and then took it one step further – modifying it to factor in “Entire Website Purpose.”

Bounce Rate tends to indicate a mismatch of
Customer Intent and Landing Page Intent

Basically, the best way to keep visitors on your site and stop them from “bouncing” is to make sure that these three elements align:

  1. Customer Intent
  2. Landing Page Purpose
  3. Entire Website Purpose

As an example, Newfangled used to have a popular blog post on “National Donut Day.” It had a high number of visits but an extremely high bounce rate (and it has since been removed because of this). Anyone searching for National Donut Day (#1: customer intent) did find what they were looking for on this page (#2: landing page purpose), but Newfangled’s overall website purpose (#3) has nothing to do with celebrating this tasty holiday – so these users bounced from our site.

On the other hand, if someone searched for “website development” (#1) and landed on our Development page (#2), they would be far more likely to stick around and check out other site content, since their intent and our overall site purpose (#3) are a direct match. When all three elements align, a user is less likely to bounce.

Bringing the Right Visitors to Your Site

February 24, 2010
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

“It’s up to you as a website administrator to carefully craft your meta description, meta title, and the content on the page so that they match the intentions of the users visiting your site.”

This line, from a recent screencast in which l discussed keywords and user intent with Brian Chiou, really stood out for me. It hits the nail on the head an terms of basic things you can do to improve website traffic and user engagement. Accurate keywords in meta data and site content are some of the easiest and most effective tools available to our clients yet so many overlook them!

(Note: Throughout this post, I’m talking about search keywords, not meta keywords Search keywords are words and phrases that a user will most likely search for on a search engine. Meta keywords, a list of words included in your meta data, are a whole other story.)

To fully understand keywords and user intent, you first need to understand the two types of traffic:

  1. Direct: visitors who already know you, and who type your URL directly into their browser or click a direct link
  2. Organic: visitors who find your site through a search engine

Direct visitors are looking specifically for your site, so their user intent will inherently match your content. On the other hand, organic visitors are looking for their search queries. An organic visitor’s search query is his user intent – if he searched how to build a website and your site appears in the results, he expects your site will have the information he’s looking for. The only thing he knows about your site is what search engines have told him, and they get their information by analyzing your content, meta data, etc.

There is a lot of potential to expand your customer base through organic traffic, so you want to make sure you’re targeting organic visitors successfully. However, you don’t want to target any old search engine user. It’s not how many visitors you get; it’s how many of the right visitors you get. You want to attract those users who are actively seeking out, and will benefit from, your site’s offerings. When a visitor’s intent matches your content, he is more likely to be satisfied with your site and to act accordingly – whether it be conversions, referrals, repeat visits, etc.

The easiest way to make sure intent and content match is by using popular and pertinent search phrases, or search keywords, throughout site content and meta data. Our three part screencast series will provide a more in depth review of keywords.

Keywords: Understand, Analyze, and Make Decisions – A Three-Part Screencast Series

February 23, 2009
Created for Newfangled’s Blog

This is a three-part screencast series exploring search keywords and what they mean for you and your website, by Jillian and former coworker Brian Chiou.


Part I: Understanding Keywords

Brian Chiou and Jillian Kuhn talk about Keywords from Brian Chiou on Vimeo.


Part II: Measuring Performance of Keywords

How to measure the performance of keywords from Brian Chiou on Vimeo.


Part III: Making Data-Driven Decisions Using Keywords

Screencast 3 : Data-driven decisions using keywords from Brian Chiou on Vimeo.

Short and Sweet Website Copy

Web

November 30, 2009
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

Less is more when it comes to website copy.

Think about it. When you visit a website, do you carefully read every single word on the page? l doubt it. Very few people do! In fact, according to research on useit.com, “users will read about 20% of the text on the average page.”

To combat this problem, your website needs strong, concise copy. Users are more apt to digest one powerful sentence than a long, diluted block of gratuitous words – so be clear, compelling, and get to the point. Don’t fill your site with long, flowery paragraphs, or else your true message may get lost amidst the unnecessary fluff.

lf you must include a significant chunk of text, here are some tips to optimize your copy for skimming and scanning. l like this article because it practices what it preaches. It uses bullet points, bold font, links, and white space to make the main points stand out, even if you‘re only briefly scanning the article.

Which of these pages is more likely to grab your attention?

However, even with these tips, it‘s best to keep things short and sweet whenever possible. As Mark Twain famously said, “If I’d had more time, l‘d have written a shorter letter.” Just because you can write paragraphs and paragraphs doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Sometimes it takes more skill to write a shorter sentence, and it can be a much more effective marketing tool.

In my previous career writing TV news promos, l had less than 15 seconds to get my message across, so I had to make every single syllable count. On your website, make every word count. Cut redundant or unnecessary words and paragraphs. Each sentence should support the page’s main message – and if it doesn’t, you may want to reevaluate why you‘ye included it in the first place.

Tracking Clicks on Your Twitter Links

bit.ly

September 22, 2009
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

Here’s an easy Twitter trick that lets you track any links you post-~ giving you basic analytics info to help boost your social media strategy.

lf you follow the steps below, from DailyBlogTips.com, you can see how many of your followers clicked your link, also known as a “click-through rate.”

  • First of all create an account on bit.ly (takes 2 seconds).
  • After that pick a web page that you would like to share with your followers (like a post from your blog or some cool website), and shorten the URL inside your bit.iy account.
  • Tweet a message describing that page and containing the bit.ly link.
  • Wait at least a couple of hours and count the total number of clicks.

bit.lyFor those not familiar with bit.ly, it’s a popular URL shortener, which helps cut any ridiculously long links down to a manageable Twitter size. After you create a shortened bit.ly link, you can log back in anytime and check how many clicks it has received. You can use this bit-ly information to gauge the popularity of your tweets and help guide your Twitter content strategy. For example, if a certain link has an unusually high click-through rate, your followers are clearly more interested in that topic!

This trick definitely comes in handy when you post a link to an external site, where you don’t have access to any analytics information… And when you link back to your own website, it’s a great complement to our Newfangled CMS and Google Analytics tracking tools.

Twitter: Changing How We Read & Write Online

Twitter Fail Whale

May 8, 2009
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

l’m an active Twitter user, and l keep finding small Twitterisms creeping into my everyday writing. Creative ways of getting around the 140-character limit are appearing in everything l type… “&” instead of “and,” “#” instead of “number,” using only 1 space between sentences instead of the usual 2, etc.

It’s really starting to bother me.

Anyone else having this problem? Finding yourselves typing everything in Twitterese?

Now that Twitter is blowing up all over the media and more & more accounts are being created every day, I’m starting to wonder about the effects it will have on the general vocabulary & writing style (I’m a grammar geek)– as well as what effects it may have on people’s online attention spans. Having everything broken down into convenient little 140-character bites will surely change the way we consume information online. I, for one, admit that it’s much more difficult to digest a multi-page news story now that I’ve grown accustomed to getting my breaking news updates from tiny blurbs.

There’s plenty of documentation out there about website users’ reading patterns– that we mostly “scan” website text and rarely ever read every single word. Twitter is just going to escalate this behavior, which already poses a significant roadblock for websites that rely heavily on text to get their message across. It’s already hard enough to get visitors to your website and then actually pay attention to your writing, but will Twitter make it even more difficult?

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