Monthly Archives: December 2015

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Exceptional Leadership

The 4 Gs of Exceptional Leadership

This post first aired on One of the Top Leadership Blogs, Switch & Shift, also, one of my clients and fared very well. I hope you will enjoy it as much as their community did.

I recently started working here at Switch & Shift, and I find myself surrounded by a League of Extraordinary Thinkers and speakers on change leadership, rebellious thought, and Career Wealth. I challenge myself to “Awaken the Leader in Me”, inspired by the leadership book by Mitesh Khatri.

I know many other people must be in the same boat as me if the topic warranted a book to be written. Working closely with the posts on Switch & Shift, I can’t help but be influenced by the words and thoughts of our great social leaders.

It has forced me to ask myself: ”What does it take to be an outstanding leader? And what characteristics in particular do I think I possess, and what do I need to work on?”

Qualities of a Remarkable Leader

1. Grit

I recently ran across two posts about Grit; one here on Switch & Shift  –The Modern Abuse of Grit – and another on INC. – The 7 Habits of People with Remarkable Mental Toughness – by Jeff Haden.

I am intrigued by the concept of grit. It is a seldom used word, but a quality many leaders, past and present, have in spades. In my mind, grit equates to fortitude, resilience, and gumption (ah, another G!) and the ability to take risks and recover from them if need be; the ability to get back on your feet no matter what you’re fighting.

2. Grace

Grit is not the only quality of a remarkable leader. Grace, in some ways the opposite of how we picture grit, is also a quality of remarkable leaders. Grace seems feminine and delicate in the face of grit. Grit conjures up images of Clint Eastwood in his Mexican poncho, chewing on a cigarillo in the classic film, The Good, Bad and the Ugly.

In stark contrast to grit, grace makes one think of an angel. Grace is not only fluid movements in body, but in mind. Knowing what to say, and when, is an essential trait of a leader. Grace is sure-footedness in mind and spirit, confidence without cockiness. An ability to see the whole picture without prejudice. It is fair-mindedness, coupled with an open mind and an open heart. Can you think of a better quality for today’s leaders?

3. Growth

Growth is a most necessary component of phenomenal leadership. No one was born being a leader. I agree that some children, even as babies, seem to exhibit initial leadership qualities. And there are individuals who inherently possess an uncanny ability to get people to listen, admire and follow them. Not every great leader was born this way however. The best leaders experience tremendous growth throughout their lives, personally and in their careers. In turn, these leaders know through their own growth, how important it is to give their employees or followers the opportunity to evolve and strive to reach their potential as well.  

4. Gratitude

Gratitude rounds out my 4 G’s of Exceptional Leadership. If you have grit, you earned it through working hard to achieve your goals despite life’s obstacles. Along the way, you differentiate yourself from others by developing grace; an ability to know what to do and say with kindness and clarity. These characteristics are acquired through personal and professional growth. And if you have traveled this road you most likely have much gratitude for where you are and the path that brought you here.

Great leaders show this gratitude in many ways; through mentoring and giving back. Thought leaders share their wisdom and act as mentors to those who find knowledge and comfort in their words and actions. Highly successful innovators are aware that they got some lucky breaks along the way and, in fact, they alone are not responsible for their prosperity. Further, they acknowledge that being on top today does not define you, nor does it mean you will stay there. Be thankful for the moment and all the small steps that got you there along the way.

In assessing my own leadership path, I give myself high marks in two of the four Gs, with an average on a third and low on the fourth. Which Gs you ask? Well, I’m not telling; we are all a work in progress and my goal is to improve every day. Some days the change seems incremental, while on others noticeable strides are made.

We all get where we are going in our own way and in our own time. I hope to see you on the road!


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Online Marketing Strategy Backbone

I was recently asked this question and I thought it would be useful information to share.

What strategy do you employ when creating online marketing campaigns?

I would start by asking questions to establish business objectives and develop an overall understanding of the company mission and vision, in order to maintain transparency throughout the campaign.

Who is your targeted customer segment?

  • What do they “look” like?
  • Flesh out a well-defined target and contextual understanding of them i.e.: what resonates and creates value?

Conduct research including competitive analysis to hone in on the desired market, developing tactics and determining appropriate marketing channels to effectively reach them.

Conduct a SWOT analysis.

  •  Where does the organization sit currently?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What is working well?
  • What are some advantages to capitalize on?

Discuss the company “adjectives” or keywords, which will be used throughout content creation including Google Adwords and social promotions.

Next, put it all into alignment.

  •  Establish Goals, Tactics, KPIs and Target KPIs.

Measure, Test, Analyze, Refine and Implement.

Revisit, gather further data and continue refinements.

 

online marketing backbone


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Website Analysis

At a Glance, Website Analysis

Here is the breakdown of a recent website analysis I gave to a client. I thought I would share it as it may hold valuable tips for your business site.

Keep your website clean, simple and uncomplicated, but interesting and engaging. 

You want your visitors to be able to navigate the website easily. Keep it uncluttered, generally a black font is more preferred than white or colored and easier to read. Do put links in a different colorthat changes when they have been opened. Make sure the font is a large enough size for all ages to gaze on comfortably.

Have a prominently placed call to action such as the ability to request an appointment. What is your end game, the conversion rate to watch? How many visitors landed and created valuable exits through this link?

You may want to embed the free Google Analytics code to track analytics on your site to gain insights into number of visitors, return visitors, landing page origin and conversion rate, then make adjustments accordingly.

I have to emphasize that a picture is worth a thousand words. I would highly suggest that you add tagged images and put your smiling face under contact us. It lends credibility, authenticity and trust. New customers will be able to recognize you.

Additionally, I can’t say enough about the need to connect with visitors and clients on social media sites. It is rare to find a site without connection links to their Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.

In order to make a LinkedIn business page you need a non-gmail or yahoo email address, but is well worth the added step to gain credibility, networking and branding.

Put a link to reviews on local business promotion platforms like Yelp and City Search.

Other ways to improve your organic search rankings are to create links back to your site. You do this by incorporating social media andposting content, images, video etc. that link back to your site.

I highly encourage affiliate marketing. Perhaps, there are industry newsletters that go out you want to have an ad on or write up a short article or two and post it on a related website to draw traffic? Are there businesses related to yours that will recommend you or put your information on their site? Pet sitter advertising on a veterinarian’s website, something along those lines.

SEO requires keywords or unique phrases 2-3 words to edge out the competition then embed them throughout the site pages and posted content to get that element working for you. Again, more content is always going to help. Keep content 300-500 words, brief, bulleted and bold keywords and concepts for a fast, easy read.

Most people are accessing sites via mobile devices, so make sure your site is responsive and translates well.

People also tend to scan content in less than a minute with an F shape pattern, so put the contact information in a prominent area.

Tactics and Strategy!

Contact us for your free website analysis

contact@solterconsulting.com


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Rise of Digital Marketing


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A/B Testing

Test, Test and Test some more: The importance of A/B & Multivariate Testing

a b testing graph

Some may not like it, or know how to do it, that is why you have Solter Consulting, but Testing is one of the most important ways to know what is working well or not, and how to improve.

Testing:

“By leveraging the power of experimentation and testing tools, you can run experiments on your site and let your customers tell you what works best.” (Kaushik, 2010, 8)

Quantitative-capable of being measured or expressed in numerical terms.

  1. Comparison: A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing (MVT)

A/B Testing is basically using two versions of the same page and assessing which version receives a better reaction by either drawing in more unique visitors or getting these visitors to engage in the desired outcome. The pros of A/B Testing are that it is fairly easy to do and extremely cost effective. It is a great starting point for flushing out the best version of your website pages.

The downside or cons to A/B Testing include a bit of difficulty deciphering exactly what change to the page layout made the difference. No doubt, you may make several changes and there is no way to determine what elements made the most difference. Kaushik cautions us that A/B Testing could mean you are making changes too slowly (Kaushik, 2010, 198). Life on the web is ever changing. It is fast and furious!

Multivariate Testing is a way to test changes to several elements at the same time on one web page (Kaushik, 2010, 198.) This testing is a bit more complicated for the layman. JavaScript tags would be placed on the items being tested and alternatives are uploaded into the testing tool (ex. Google Website Optimizer, Optimost, Sitespect.) The pros of multivariate testing are that it produces dramatic results. It will be clear to you exactly which element created an increase in the desired outcome and what changes to make. A con of MVT is that it is a little more complicated for someone like me! It requires a testing tool, which costs money. Like A/B Testing, this test is one page at a time. Depending on how many pages it takes to get the visitor or customer to the desired outcome, this could be a bit of testing and take a bit of time to get the whole picture and the website fully optimized.

  1. Approach: One of the first things I will want to do on my website is an A/B Test of the top landing page with the highest bounce rate. I will then create an alternative page and see how it fairs. I will be sticking with A/B Testing initially, so it may be worthwhile to test my search, email and comment pages as Kaushik advises. I am trying to get more feedback, engagement and loyalty from visitors, so my subscription page and comment pages may also need good analysis/testing to optimize.

Qualitative-quality or character of something.

  1. Comparison: Usability Studies vs. Online Surveys

Usability Studies help us understand the customer and the why of their actions.

Pros of the usability study are that there are web-based versions that are fairly inexpensive to conduct and can be completed quickly. These tests are golden in that you are face to face with your customer and that is rare for almost any web-based business. Some of the cons are that lab usability tests measure a user’s ability to complete tasks and are a much more involved process and costly. You need a room, subjects and a test administrator. Once you have gathered information, you still need to analyze the data. Kaushik cautions that you will only have a small sampling of the population you serve and thus may skew the data. Ultimately, the effectiveness of this testing lies in eliminating the worst ideas of those presented.

Online surveys-customer/visitor self-administered questionnaires help us to understand the why and give the customer a voice.

There are many pros of the online survey. They are quick, easy and affordable.

The downside or con of surveys is that you will only get a certain type of visitor to answer the survey; therefore, you will not have the complete picture. “Page-level surveys are not good for collecting feedback about intent or complete site experience.” (Kaushik, 2010, 181)

  1. Approach:

I think it would be fun and easy to create a survey and pop it on my website to see what brought visitors to my site. I would like to hear their opinion about what they enjoyed or did not enjoy. I might place a page-level survey after a blog post to see if the content was relevant and of interest, so I can adjust my topics accordingly.

I also like the site-level survey approach to collecting complete data about customer/visitor motivation across the site. Kaushik suggests a pop-up window with 25-28 questions. I, like many, am annoyed by pop-ups but, it is a necessary evil in order to glean quality insights for the future direction of your website.

testing website analytics

Give us a call, we will get you where you need to go! Solter Consulting


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facebook

Facebook a Platform for Life after Death…

Facebook a Platform for Life after Death…

I am constantly amazed by this world gone digital. The power of social media platforms to connect us in so many ways. Whether it is reconnecting or forging new bonds, ultimately, the medium impacts the population across the globe leading us to feel less isolated and alone. The user creates their desired persona (profile), delicately crafts their image just so to develop a life story of pictures and mini blogs, showing only what you truly want others to see.

Virtual Touch

I touched on the phenomena of social media in the capstone project I completed for my MPS in New Media and Internet Marketing. I entitled it “The Virtual Touch” Social Media Platforms, Video Marketing and Real-Time Chat Applications Addressing Consumer Demand for Authenticity and Engagement in Today’s Digital Marketplace. Part of it was a slight attempt to see into the future and touch on how our interactions with each other, not only how we do business, but how we relate to each other is forever changed by these digital applications which evolve at the speed of light.

Digital Evolution

Digital marketing is a transformative medium. We can Skype, real-time video chat. Visually seeing someone and their surroundings adds to the communication, making it a bit more personal than text, as nuances can be detected in body language. It is not a perfect substitute however, there remains, and thankfully so, nothing quite like face-to-face contact to fill your senses and complete the communication cycle.

Facebook-Better than Reality T.V.

Facebook still holds a very strong presence beginning with thirty somethings and a growing senior population. You may not know if you are still in a relationship until you check your status. The live feed indeed is full of life, drama and circumstance. Today after quickly thumbing through my news feed, I was moved to sit down and write immediately, while the thoughts were fresh. There was a public post by a former high school classmate in which she had written to a dear friend, who apparently committed suicide 6 months earlier. It was very emotional, heart-felt and beautifully constructed. I initially wondered if it was the introductory paragraph to a fiction novel she was writing? I was hooked, I wanted to read more. I clicked the link to the addressee’s name and it brought me to her Facebook page. It was filled with Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday messages; pictures of a young, healthy, very, much alive looking girl. And there was a picture of my high school classmate with the young lady in Italy. How nice, happy and young they all look, I thought to myself. Is this the girl that committed suicide, I questioned? The only indication on the page lending itself to any insight into a less than perky mental state was the cover photo, an artist’s painting, slightly disturbing in its ethereal nature. The darkness of the larger shadow seems to be telling the little glowing spirit, “you called me and now it is time to go.”

daniel danger painting

Daniel Danger “Time to Go”

Your Heart will Go On

Can you hear the Celine Dion Theme song from Titanic?

I scrolled further and read a few posts written by friends and family. One exceptionally poignant update from the woman’s mother, thanking her for the time they had together and the joy she felt watching her grow into a beautiful, young woman. It was sad, a bit eerie, seeing posts and comments the woman, herself, wrote only a few months earlier. Not to mention, utterly ASTOUNDING that Facebook is keeping this girl alive. Facebook is providing a platform for loved ones to grieve, sharing their thoughts and memories. In doing so, her spirit lives on. It seemed to be therapeutic, aiding in the grieving process and all that is associated with losing someone so suddenly, including the immense guilt that others harbor when a loved one choses to take their own life. There were many posts filled with questions. Could I have stopped it, or done more? Maybe this forum gave them an opportunity to answer those questions or feel some relief while being comforted by others on the board.

Rest Well Little Spirit of Light.

As I gazed at the computer page looking at her profile, one would never know she was gone. There was indeed life on that page. I am in deep thought over what this all means. I found it very sad and a bit disturbing in that it can be a vehicle of denial. What if her Facebook page was how some people discovered she was gone or worse, think she is still alive? What if this form of preserving her, as if by Facebook breathing machine, keeps her from fully moving on? Maybe she wouldn’t want her Facebook to keep going when she had chosen to leave? These questions and emotions resonate. Moreover, I find it hopeful with plentiful messages of love, providing an ability to remember good times and come together in grief, thus letting the living continue to move forward. Remaining on the outer dermis (the most superficial of layers) 🙂 I can sum it up as: Facebook, you have transformed the way we conduct our relationships again! You are now a tool of the human spirit, keeping a soul alive to comfort those touched by it.

Rest Well Little Spirit of Light.


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Quuestions

Top 10 Questions to Ask your Analytics Service Provider

testing website analyticsThis is an oldie but goodie by my favorite analytics man, Avinash Kaushik. Anyone who can make Website Analytics funny deserves a gold medal! Here is a list of questions you should ask before you “Marry Your Vendor,” as Avinash Kaushik says in his textbook Web Analytics 2.0. These pertinent questions are adapted from this text in chapter two.

  1. Why would I choose you over the free solutions out there? (How are you unique, what is your best feature or service?)
  2. Do you provide software or are you solely a service provider? (They should insist you only use first-party cookies)
  3. Do you utilize several data capture mechanisms? (We are looking for multiplicity and the ability to work with rich media.)
  4. Will I own my data? What are the estimated costs of ownership?
  5. What support will be available to me? What are those costs?
  6. Will I be able to segment my data, how? (This is a must have feature in order to gather insights.)
  7. How does data export from your system to mine? What happens to my data if I cancel my contract?
  8. How easily can you integrate or import outside data? (Additional data sources leads to greater insights and site optimization.)
  9. What is your three year improvement plan? How will your product change and adapt to keep ahead of the competition?
  10. Who can recommend you? What clients have you recently lost and why? Have you made improvements based on that feedback?

These questions should help you make an informed decision before you enter into a contract with an Analytics Service Provider. I hope you find this information helpful on your quest for enlightenment and site optimization.

Solter Consulting can help you with your analytics insights, testing and optimization. We specialize in Google Analytics holding a certification in Google Analytics IQ.

googleanalyticsiq


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objective. Goal, KPI

Back to Basics-Establishing Objectives, Goals and KPIs

analyticscomponetsSometimes the best thing we can do for our customers is point them in the right direction, help them define their objectives and goals and create a framework for measuring them (KPIs).

Here is a mock up of the building blocks for a robust analytics program.

Section 1: Clickstream-“clickstream is the foundational data which helps you measure pages and campaigns and helps you analyze all kinds of site behavior: Visits, Visitors, Time on Site, Page Views, Bounce Rate, Sources…”(Kaushik 2010, 7)

Section 2: Multiple Outcomes- “Focusing deeply and specifically on measuring Outcomes means connecting consumer behavior to the bottom line of the company” (Kaushik 2010, 8)

Section 3: Testing- “By leveraging the power of experimentation and testing tools, you can run experiments on your site and le your customers tell you what works best” (Kaushik 2010, 8)

Section 4: Competitive Intelligence- “Knowing how you are performing against your competition is priceless – it helps you improve, it helps you identify new opportunities, and it helps you stay relevant” (Kaushik 2010, 10)

Section 5: Reporting- “If we want executives to use our dashboards and take action, then we must give them information and not data” (Kaushik 2010, 288)

Key Metrics:

The key metrics I am interested in are visits to www.xyzwebsite.com and more importantly unique visitors. Bounce rate is important too. I want to know if people hit my site and “puke” as Kaushik states in chapter 3. If my visitors do bounce, what page in particular is causing this reaction, which incorporates exit rate, or a bad exit? Conversion rate is also important to me, as I want to convert unique visitors to subscriptions and even better guest blog submissions. Just as important to the success of www.xyzwebsite.com is Engagement. How did my visitors enjoy their stay? I can measure this in the form of comments, liking and sharing the post on social networks.

Web Analytics Framework:

*Business Objective: What are we trying to accomplish? www.xyzwebsite.com is trying to create brand name recognition through the web.

  1. Get visitors to the site, increase number or visits and unique visitors.
  2. Increase activity through comments and guest submissions, sharing link.
  3. Visitor Loyalty-subscriptions, following on social networks.

The end game is to create profit through click-thru advertising, paid freelance writing assignments, paid reviews and free products/services.

Are these simple objectives DUMB: Doable. Understandable. Manageable. Beneficial?

*Goals: Goals are specific strategies you’ll leverage to accomplish your business objectives. 1. do x 2. improve y 3. reduce z.

  1. Write more blogs-get name out there and search engines working.
  2. Improve SEO
  3. Improve site appearance-fix tags; re-install share buttons on the bottom of every page.
  4. Install Google Analytics program –What are the most popular posts? What time of day are people visiting the site? What is the referring site? Optimize site based on this data.

*Key Performance Indicators: A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric that helps you understand how you are doing against your objectives.

  1. Number of unique visitors
  2. Number of Subscribers
  3. Number of comments/Guest blog/recipe submissions
  4. Sharing post link-number of likes and shares on social networks

*KPI Targets: Targets are numerical values you have pre-determined as indicators success or failure.

  1. 1000 unique visitors a week.
  2. 50 subscriptions a week.
  3. 2 comments on every post, one submission a week.
  4. 100 likes and 50 shares total.

 

(http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/web-analytics-101-definitions-goals-metrics-kpis-dimensions-targets/#goals)

Solter Consulting can help you get your business headed in the right direction. Contact us today.


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Social love

4 Be’s of Content Creation: Less Ego More Love

Content Creation: Less Ego More Love

What is the coming wave of content creation?

Identifying, creating and sharing your company or brand through culture. I think these lessons can be applied to life as well as business content.

This is done first off by checking your ego at the door. Know who you are and echo your values, goals and personality through the tone of the content.

Michael Brenner, the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred sums this up well in  his post How To Build A Culture of Content

“The simple fact is that the best way to sell more stuff is to help your target audience better than anyone else. And the worst way to try and reach your target audience in today’s digital, consumer-led world is to try and sell yourself directly. Ads are what we try to avoid.”

Through my experience and research, I have come up with the following simple components of Culture Content:

  • Be aware
    • Listen to your customers.
    • Know who and where they are.
  • Be relevant
    • Stay on point. (I, all too often diverge.)
    • Topic of interest to your customer segment.
  • Be helpful
    • Answer all customer questions and comments.
    • Share your knowledge and expertise.
  • Most of all Be yourself
    • Transparency-Make the invisible visible. (Take a peek under the kimono, so to speak!)
    • Authenticity- Facilitate genuine and relevant engagement.

Marcella Chamorro (2012) writes in To Be or Like to Be-The Need for Authentic Online Marketing in the Age of the Ultra-Informed Consumer.

“Consumers who feel engaged and hold positive association with an organization’s authenticity are more appreciative of the brand’s interactions, and much more willing to recommend it to others.”

Ultimately, this is what we are striving for through our social media campaigns, customer loyalty and evangelists to spread the digital word-of-mouth.

As these components of communication can easily be applied to our personal lives, perhaps it holds true that we should treat our customers like friends or at the very least welcomed guests in our home.

In closing, one last brilliant quote from Michael Brenner

“It takes executives who embody this spirit – living and breathing the notion that your brand is more than what you sell.”

Here at Solter Consulting you will find that we do what we say and say what we do and mean it!

Let us know how we can help your business grow.

Less-Ego-More-Love


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